The newly wedded couple smiled
out at me from the pages of the New York Times, and involuntarily I smiled
back—a warm smile of sympathetic understanding. More power to you, I
thought. How wonderful that age is not proof against beauty, charm, nor of
courage to stand up to passion and meet it "hand to hand as in the
ring," in the words of Plutarch.
I can't understand the scoffing,
deprecating reaction I've heard to the marriage of John D. Rockefeller,
unless it be charged to envy. Envy, vexed at what is great and transcendent,
always strives to depreciate it and find some flaw in it.
I think it's wonderful. How
fortunate are they to find "still in its embers living the strong fire
of their affection." Love at that age must be like living again. The
sweet poignancy of earlier happiness dimmed by time, they must think these
are the most beautiful days of their lives. Joy is written all over their
faces in the news photo; joy and an appreciation of their good fortune,
and yet something akin to apology for finding it.
Why should that be necessary?
Why should they show awareness of existing resentment? Why are so many folks
so quick to resent others' happiness? Are we innately envious, selfish?
Can't we bear the thought of others finding pleasure that, perhaps, eludes
This seeming reluctance to grant
others enjoyment of which we are not a part seems a characteristic of modern
cynicism. The ancient sophists and mystics frowned on fun, but for
themselves as well as others. They simply took a dim view of sensual
pleasures, holding it to run counter to true nobility of character, purity
of the soul. Witness the indifference and statuesque coldness towards
"the heated folly of the emotions" which the Stoics advocated: the
no-more-laughing and no-more-weeping of Spinoza.
pleasures of love never profited a man, and he is lucky if they dp him no
harm," growled Epicurus 2200 years ago, and he threw in this bit of
advice: "Remove sight, sensation and contact, and the passion of love
is at an end."
What the old boys didn't seem to
realize was that the liveliest thought still is inferior to the dullest
sensation. Even Emerson, a scant century ago, complained that the ingenuity
of man has always been dedicated to the solution of one problem: how to
detach the sensual sweet, the sensual strong, the sensual bright from the
moral sweet, the moral deep, the moral fair.
It remained for Henri Bergson,
of the modern crop of philosophers, to point out that the mechanistic
instinct of the mind is stronger than reason. Love is an insidious, subtle
god that laughs at logic and overpowers obstacles with a mere glance. To
ignore that fact is to be guilty of what the Greeks call acatalepsia—a.
denial of the capacity of the mind to comprehend obvious truths.
is not merely pervasive and persuasive—it is unpredictable and
unexplainable too. Its whimsy is not best illustrated by its visitation to
septuagenarians, by any means. How can you account for a sultry sophisticate
like Ava Gardner falling for the likes of Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra?
Or luscious Paulette Goddard for Charlie Chaplin and Burgess Meredith?
But who am
I to complain? Without that wonderful, inexplicable idiosyncracy of
womanhood where love is concerned, where would guys like me come off!
So here's to love—at any
age—and here's to the honeymooning Rockefellers. May they heed the words
of Plato: "We must not regard what the many say of us, but what he who
has understanding of just and unjust will say, and what the truth will
say"; and take solace in the pronouncement of Lucretius: "Envy
like a thunderbolt sometimes strikes and dashes men down from the highest
point with ignominy into noisome Tartarus"; and find comfort in
Aristotle's recipe: "It is for the sake of happiness that we all do all
that we do";
inspiration from Confucius: "There is no one who does not eat and
drink, but few there are who really know flavor." Me? I think love is
here to stay—I'm for it.
If the ascendancy of
is solace and inspiration to us fortyish folk, think what encouragement
the Rockefeller saga gives us. And then there was William Randolph Hearst,
dying at eighty-eight—exactly twice my age—and Marion Davies still with
him. What have I been worrying about?
Great Romance too, a September-May song that started over thirty years ago
and continued until December's days ran out.
As far as
I'm concerned, the best thing about Hearst always was Marion Davies, and
the paeans of praise poured upon him since his death by the hirelings of his
far-flung newspaper empire are rather sickening. One syndicated writer
lamented the "tragedy" that befell the nation when Hearst failed
to get the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904. He would have beaten
Theodore Roosevelt easily, says this character. How loyal can you get!
Orson Welles did a masterful job
of portraying the lord of San Simeon in "Citizen Kane," I thought.
Hearst, for all his power and wealth, his influence and affluence, couldn't
keep the film out of the movie houses, although Welles went on the dirt list
and was blacklisted by all Hearst operations until Rita Hayworth left him,
an opportunity seized upon with glee by Hearst's smearers to maul the nervy
young genius with paper bullets.
The picture really was terrific,
with a spine-tingling ending, dramatic in its impact through its very
Well, no matter how much Hearst
irked one with his high handed misuse of the power of the press and his flamboyant
yellow journalism, he was a champion in his own field and he contributed a
chapter to Americana. And mighty as he was, he could find in all the
wondrous maze of San Simeon no armor tough enough to repel the
heart-piercing love bug when it really bit him.
Ad hominem . .
omnia vincit amor . . . sic itur ad astra.
Supreme Court has ruled that public housing is not "public property
used exclusively for any public purpose," and therefore is not entitled
to tax exemption. Effect may be far-reaching .... Intrigued by this thought
in an obscure weekly paper: "Having removed ourselves from
in government we look upon it as a wealthy old uncle whom it would seem we
wish to die that we may inherit mythical benefits. We storm the ramparts of
our economy to demand that which will impoverish us. Americanism is a
beautiful and a workable thought but it takes people to make it work and to
make it beautiful. The same people can destroy it through
selfishness". . . . Agreeably surprised to find the support aroused by
my reference to Senator Bob Hendrickson as New Jersey's next governor ....
Beardsley Ruml says American industry could spend over two billion out of
their taxes under the five per cent clause for research and welfare but they
muff the ball and use less than one-seventh of it .... The film "Take
Care of My Little Girl" is a devastating satirical expose of college
sororities .... What made "On Moonlight Bay," vocals by Doris Day
and Spring Lake's Gordon MacRae, particularly interesting to me were the
songs circa 1917, just after my col'm on tunes of that World War i era.
Couldn't have timed it better myself than did Old Man Coincidence with his
long arm .... Walt Disney is truly a genius. Saw a cartoon about a windmill
and its animals that lifted me right out of my seat with its impact. Just a
cartoon, mind you! His "Nature's Half Acre" is an enthralling
experience in naturalism. . . . What a provocative job Danielle Darrieux and
Fernando Lamas do with that teaser "We Just Sat Around" in
"Rich, Young, and Pretty," a first-rate musical, incidentally. The
timing and expression of the sophisticated, charm-laden duo are something to
see, and the piano background is something to hear .... "Showboat"
is in all-around good film, tuneful and colorful, but the high tpot came
when Ava Gardner sidled onto the piano to sing
"My Bill" as Helen
Morgan used to do. She has a sultry, haunting quality in her voice best
manifest in the bluesy "Can't Help Lovin' That Man." The Warfield
rendition of "Old Man River" compares favorably with Paul
Robeson's too .... Rosemary Clooney has some more recordings coming up
with the same celeste background that was so effective in "Come On-a
My House". . . . Have you caught Tony Bennett's deal on "Cold,
Cold Heart"? Also, in the same vein, "Warm Beer and a Cold, Cold
Woman" and "60 Minute Man." Phew! . . . June and her cute
friend, Brenda Turley, thought we were merely going for a ride the other
Sunday eve, and when Ross's persuasion took us to the boardwalk at
Seaside Heights they found themselves transplanted into the midst of
throngs, wearing shorts and sans shoes. Shorts were not uncommon, but the
nudity of their nether extremities was embarrassingly distinctive, to say
the least. Two pairs of unclad feet never before were the object of so much
attention. Seems like a commentary on modern civilization in that somehow:
deshabile has practically no limits on the beach, but keep those tootsies
decently covered on the boards. I don't get it .... Incidentally, the fuss
and furore over gambling seems to have passed Ocean County by; Seaside
Heights is as wide open as Atlantic City used to be .... Fleet Farquhar
Jones, the former Penn backfield flash, is the latest to pay the extreme
penalty for football fame. Jones died at twenty-five from an illness
resulting from a ruptured spleen suffered in the Penn-Brown game a few years
ago. And his dad is a big physician, too. Few escape some lasting effect of
grid activity .... Speaking of middle age, as I was awhile back, I've
decided they call it that because that's usually where it shows first.
Swimming has slimmed me down some this Summer, though. If only I didn't like
my victuals so much!