The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

THE ANNALS OF FLIGHT, OR CHUCK YEAGER SLEEPS WITH THE FISHES: I like to watch TCM [Turner Classic Movies, for those of you without basic cable], first, because I like Hollywood movies from a time when Hollywood knew how to make movies that people wanted to watch, and secondly, to indulge my habit of taking characters from one movie and stuffing them into the movie I’m watching at the moment. This is a vile habit, akin to cracking your knuckles in front of your mother or breaking wind during the more solemn parts of a funeral, and it is a habit that makes it difficult to remember movie trivia, since I’m never sure if the factoid I am trying to dredge from the noisome sinkhole of my memory is something that actually occurs in a movie or whether it is something I made up. On the other hand, such a habit can make life interesting at times, as when you watch The Right Stuff and you start to wonder how the movie would turn out if Michael Corleone broke the sound barrier instead of Chuck Yeager. Certainly, the change of characters would have improved the quality of the cinematic cuisine; Gordo Cooper’s burned hot dogs are simply no match for Mama Corleone’s lasagna.

I suspect that the same guy who put a bullet through Moe Greene’s eye did the job on the sound barrier; no one else in The Godfather was anywhere near Edwards Air Force Base, and, let’s face it, the idea of Clemenza in the Bell X-1 rocket plane causes cognitive dissonance on a massive scale; there wouldn’t be enough room in that plane for Clemenza, the gun, or the cannoli. I also have a hard time imagining what the sound barrier could have done to the Corleone family that Michael would feel the need to have the barrier whacked in such a loud and grotesque manner; causing a sonic boom in front of a bunch of eyewitnesses, most of whom work for the government, is not particularly subtle, unless the lack of subtlety is the point of the exercise.

The barrier’s loud demise must have had something to do with the narcotics business, which Don Corleone did not want to get involved with, but this is just speculation on my part; everything I know about the mob I learned from the New York Daily News; but it’s what makes the most sense to me. If the sound barrier got mixed up with dirty cops and the Tattaglia family in the drug trade, then the hit on the barrier may have been simple justice, an example of someone who should have known better becoming involved in a dirty business and then getting what was coming to them. That’s a terrific story, or at least Tom Wolfe thought so, but then again, what do I know?

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