Monday, February 29, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

A pleasant diversion from the Coen Brothers.  Not one of their top-tier efforts such as The Big Lebowski, Blood Simple, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Barton Fink, or Raising Arizona, nor one of their misfires like The Ladykillers or Inside Llewyn Davis.

If you like Hollywood, particularly old Hollywood, circa 1951, and the films of that era you'll find a lot to enjoy.  Set in a Hollywood studio, the plot, such as it is, revolves around the kidnapping of star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) who is in the midst of filming the studio's epic about Jesus entitled Hail, Caesar!  The movie also features song and dance numbers, a spectacular water film a la Esther Williams, Chinese restaurants, an ecumenical review board for Hail, Caesar with a Catholic priest, Protestant minister, Orthodox bishop and rabbi, and a cabal of Communist screenwriters.

The movie revolves around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), the studio's production head and chief fixer.  Brolin is terrific and most of the cast is solid.  Clooney reprises the numbskull roll he's played so effectively before for the Coens in O Brother and Intolerable Cruelty.  He's particularly funny discoursing on the dialectic after being brainwashed by the Commies.

Scarlett Johansson plays the Esther Williams-type character (no way can that be bad), Channing Tatum is the song and dance guy, with more going on than initially appears, Tilda Swinton plays characters based on Hollywood gossip legends Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons and Wayne Knight (Newman!) has a small, but pivotal part.

Best of all is Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle, an aw-shucks, singing cowboy and stunt man who turns out to be a lot sharper than it first seems and Veronica Osorio as Carlotta Valdez, a Carmen Miranda type actress.  It's fun to watch Ehrenreich and Osorio's interplay in their two scenes together.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Loving Vincent

This is pretty mesmerizing.  It's a trailer for the movie Loving Vincent, described as the first fully painted feature film in the world, bringing the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life.

You can catch a larger sized version of the trailer at the website for the movie.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Budget Tables

Each year the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) produces several volumes of data in support of the budget for that year.  These reports always contain interesting nuggets of historical information.  Let's look at some from its supporting documents for the FY 2017 budget. submitted by the President.

% of Adults Graduating High School
1960 - 58
2014 - 89

% of Adults Graduating College
1960 - 11
2014 - 33.5

Reading & Math Scores for 17-year olds - Unchanged from 1970 to 2014

Life Expectancy (at birth)
1960 - 69.7
2014 - 78.8

Property Crimes per 100,000 households
1980 - 49,610
2014 - 11,806

Violent Crimes (per 100,000 people)
1980 - 4,940
1995 - 7,068
2014 - 2,010

Murder Rate (per 100,000 people)
1960 - 5.1
1970 - 7.9
1980 - 10.2
1990 - 9.4
2014 - 4.5

Environment & Energy
Ozone (PPM)
1980 - 0.101
2014 - 0.068

Particulate Matter
2000 - 13.5
2014 -  8.8

Energy Consumption per capita (mmBTU)
2000 - 342
2014 - 309

Energy Consumption per GDP
1960 - 14.5
2014 -  6.2

Federal Spending (in $trillions)
1980 - 0.591
1990 - 1.253
2000 - 1.789
2007 - 2.729
2009 - 3.517
2014 - 3.506
2016 - 3.951
2021 - 5.124 (est.)

Changes in Budget Spending By Category Over Time
National Defense (ND)
Human Resources(HR) - Education, Social Security, Health, Veterans
Physical Resources(PR) - Energy, Natural Resources & Environment, Transportation, Commerce
Other - International Affairs, Science, Agriculture

$ in billions 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rubberband Man

Time to lighten up a bit.  Let's listen to Rubberband Man by The Spinners, which rose to #2 on the charts in 1976.  The Spinners had a series of charting songs in the mid-70s, including Could It Be I'm Falling In Love, One Of A Kind (Love Affair) and Then Came You.  Crank this up - you won't be able to stop moving.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

And Now A Moment Of Reflection

Growing up in the 60s and graduating college in ’73, I find it increasingly difficult to figure out if my reaction to current-day trends are profound reflections, based on my lived experience set in the context of the passing decades or whether I’m merely a cranky guy yelling, "it's not like the old days!", and “get off my lawn!“.

What He Said

The Order Of Things

Ever wondered about not only the names of each book in the Old and New Testaments, but the names of the Nine Orders of Angels in Three Hierarchies?

Ever thought to yourself, "I wish I had a handy guide to the Fabric Care Coding System"?

Wanted to win a bar bet by knowing the Social Castes and Classes in Ancient Japan, Azteca, Celtic Tribes, the Mafia, Vikings, along with the list of Weberian Sources of Social Power?

Wanted to know what the heck all those numbers printed on checks mean?

Win a trivia contest by listing every known type of Cutting Tool?

Urgently needed to know who was Margrave of Baden in 1298?

Find a list of the sixteen types of openings in the Earth's crust? 

Now you can, all in one small book!

The motto of this blog is "The Value of Useless Knowledge" and thanks to THC reader JM, we have discovered an incredible practitioner of that motto - Dr Barbara Ann Kipfer, the author of The Order Of Things: Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders, all jammed into a 615 page, 4x6 inch paperback.,320_.jpg(from amazon)

The only way to convey what Kipfer is up to is to quote from her introduction:
So many things in our world are related, but how often do we know how?  So many subjects and things have a structure, but how often are we aware of what its hierarchy actually is?  From the inner workings of the smallest things to the complex system of the universe, this book is an attempt to cover all those things that we have organized, or that we find naturally organized, into:

SCALES                     CLASSIFICATIONS
RANKINGS                BRANCHES

We know these orders exist, but have you ever tried to look one up?  One can easily enough find the plant and animal kingdoms in the encyclopedias, but how about the organization of the Boys Scouts, the Mafia, or sumo wrestling ranks?
So what kind of maniac would attempt this?  According to Wikipedia, Dr Kipfer is a lexicographer, editor of Roget's International Thesaurus, and author of sixty books, including the best selling 14,000 Things To Be Happy About (which THC never heard of until 30 minutes ago).  Befitting the eclectic nature of her work, she has doctorates in Linguistics, Archaeology and Buddhist Studies, along with a  B.S. in Physical Education.

This post only scratches the surface on the staggering compendium of useless knowledge contained in the book.  It is definitely worth purchasing and randomly diving into.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sandby Borg

Sandy Borg Excavations CIS(Sandy Borg, from Archaeology Magazine)

It looks like the 5th century was a pretty grim time on the island of Oland, Sweden.  Over the past five years, archaeologists have been excavating the ringfort of Sandy Borg.  Oland is a long, narrow (85x9 miles) island located off the southeast coast of mainland Sweden (see map below, Oland is within Box 1).  This article in Archaeology Magazine provides the most background. Borg, one of 15 ringforts known on Oland from the era, covered an area about the size of a football field, within which were 53 houses, surrounded by a rampart 15 feet high.  Although the excavation has uncovered less than 3% of the site, mostly concentrated on a 1500 square foot house, it is clear that a massacre occurred.  Fourteen skeletal remains have already been found, all showing violent deaths, and it is thought that hundreds may have died. The 5th century was a time of endemic warfare on the isle and elsewhere in the region, but archaeologists have discovered several striking aspects about what happened at Sandby which have created an aura of mystery around the site.
(Artist's recreation of Sandby, from Ars Technica)

The first is the discovery of Roman coins, including golds coinage, minted during the reign of the Emperor Valentinian (425-55 AD).  While Roman coins have occasionally been found elsewhere on Oland, Sandby has an unusually high concentration of such findings. Some historians believe the Roman historian Tacitus may have made reference to Oland in his Germania (98AD) but certainly by the 4th century as the northern tribes entered their era of the great migrations, natives from the islands traveled south to serve in the Roman military and as raiders of the empire.  The 5th century coins appear newly minted and unmarked indicating that they were directly given to the men who settled in Oland. This period ended near the end of Valentinian's reign, which is also when the last dated coins are found at Sandby.  With Valentinian's death, the Western Roman Empire, which had been struggling to survive for fifty years, entered its final death throes, becoming, for the most part, a shadowy presence, before it was finally put out of its misery with the deposition of the last emperor in 476. The archaeologists think this ringfort was where most of the returning unemployed Roman mercenaries lived.
A Roman coin found at the site of Sandby Borg, whose inhabitants probably included a number of unemployed Roman soldiers.(Roman coin found at Sandby, from Ancient Origins)

Then there is the fact that, unlike the other Oland ringforts, Sandby seems to have been occupied only briefly, a few months at most, before its destruction.  The excavations have not shown layers of occupation.  Why the site was built and why it lasted for such a brief time is unknown.

Third, is that there is no evidence of looting which is highly unusual, as that was often the main motive for such attacks.  The inhabitants apparently expected an attack and buried caches of coins and jewelry have been found, all to the left of the doors of the houses, but in addition it does not seem that the attackers took any of the livestock or anything else from the homes.  In fact, the raiders left the livestock penned up, to die of starvation. They came, they killed, they took nothing, and left, which is extremely odd behavior.
One of the brooches.(Buried brooch recovered in excavation, from Ancient Origins)

Finally, the people who inhabited the site and the location itself were shunned for some unknown reason.  The site has remained uninhabited and, even more unusual, left untouched, not even looted, since the massacre  and for the entire time since then stories have circulated about the site.  As Ars Technica reported in its article on Sandby Borg:
Even today, people in local villages say they were warned not to visit the ruins as children because of ghosts and curses.
Perhaps, as the excavation continues, we will learn more about who the inhabitants were, why they died and why the site was not looted.  This link takes you to the official website for the excavation.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Lady Is A Tramp

Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald team up during a Sinatra TV special in the 1960s.  Frank is great as always but Ella takes it to another level.  The Lady Is A Tramp was composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for the 1937 musical, Babes In Arms.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


References to God and religion have shown up in quite a few pop music songs over the past fifty years.  This sampling of 17 tunes illustrates some of the different takes on the subject.  And, if you get to the end and are wondering, Losing My Religion (1991) by R.E.M. is not included because it is not about religion.

Pride Of Man (1968) from Quicksilver Messenger Service (composed by Hamilton Camp who later went on to voice Greedy Smurf and Harmony Smurf in The Smurfs cartoons) was typical of the hippie era, with its warning that mankind better straighten itself out and get rid of all that greed and war or else . . . .

All You Zombies (1982) by The Hooters.  The song was written by two band members, Eric Bazilian, who composed the next tune on this list and Rob Hymans, who also co-wrote Time After Time with Cyndi Lauper.
Holy Moses on the mountain
High above the golden calf
Went to get the Ten Commandments
Yeah, he's just gonna break 'em in half!
Watch the cheesy 80s video.

Bazilian's composition, One Of Us (1995), was a smash hit for Joan Osborne on her debut album.  Lyrics, vocal and melody come together well.

From the gospel tradition we have People Get Ready (1965), by The Impressions (composed by Curtis Mayfield), with its references to the civil rights movement.
In the same gospel mode is Jesus Is Just Alright (1966), written by Arthur Reid Reynolds and first recorded by his group, the Art Reynolds Singers.   The first cover version was in 1969 by The Byrds and quickly became a staple of their live sets, with another popular cover by the Doobie Brothers, becoming a hit single in 1973.  The song has since been covered by many other artists.

Many U2 songs, particularly in the band's early years, have religious overtones.  Gloria (1981) is very direct, with its chorus: 
Gloria, in te domine (Glory in you, Lord)
Gloria, exultate (Glory, exalt him)
Oh, Lord, if I had anything
Anything at all
I'd give it to you
One of U2's best known songs, Sunday Bloody Sunday (1983), is a plea for peace in Northern Ireland, with its last verse telling us "the real battle just begun, to claim the victory Jesus won, on a Sunday Bloody Sunday"

Regina Spektor, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States when she was nine, contrasts our sometimes joking take on God with the old adage of "there are no atheists in foxholes" in Laughing With (2009).

Dar Williams provides a good-natured take on dealing with those of different (or no) faiths in The Christians And Pagans (1996).

In Let It Be (1970), The Beatles evoked the solace provided by faith in times of trouble.

Songs often reference God but sometimes they are really about other things.  For instance, Highway 61 Revisited (1965) by Bob Dylan starts off:
Oh, God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?"
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run"
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done ?"
God says. "Out on Highway 61".
But that's it, and the song goes on to discuss other interesting facets of Highway 61.

This is Leonard Cohen's moving interpretation of the Story Of Isaac (1969):

Then we have the anti-God songs.  Dear God (1986) by XTC, mangles theology but THC thinks the composer could care less.

Randy Newman's, God's Song (That Why I Love Mankind) (1972) is a scathing take on God and humanity, which makes for quite an acidic combo:
I burn down your cities-how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You all must be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why I love mankind
You really need me
That's why I love mankind
In a category all its own is Jesus Walks (2004) by Kanye West

Let's end on on a more upbeat note, starting with God Only Knows (1966) by the The Beach Boys (music by Brian Wilson; lyrics by Tony Asher; lead vocal, Carl Wilson).  In an indication of how much things have changed, the song's title induced some hesitation about its release among the producers and record company because it mentioned God in the title, which was unusual for a pop song at the time.  It's also an example of the ambiguity of phrases invoking the Lord's name in pop culture; is "God only knows", just a meaningless expression, often used but little thought about, or does it mean here "God only knows", and no one else, as an expression of the deep mystery of life?  You can decide.

The song has a gorgeous melody, arrangement and vocals with some very unusual musical aspects which you can read about here and here.  First up is the original version, followed by a 2014 remake (the song has been covered hundreds of times) featuring Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Chrissie Hynde, Lord, Chris Martin, Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters & Nirvana), Sam Smith, Florence (of Florence + The Machine), Brian May (of Queen), and Brian Wilson.

We'll finish with Spirit In The Sky (1970), composed and song by Norman Greenbaum, which became a massive international hit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Looking For A Place To Stay In Chicago?

This place is available on AirBnB.  And, it's cheap, only $10 a night courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
AIC Museum Recreates Van Gogh Bedroom Painting and Puts it on Airbnb (1) 
It's a promotion for the Institute's exhibition, Van Gogh's Bedrooms.  Here's the original.
AIC Museum Recreates Van Gogh Bedroom Painting and Puts it on Airbnb (6)

Courtesy of Twisted Sifter.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Race For Eurotrash Nominee

. . .  and our current leaders, by a large margin, are:

Donald Trump as Silvio Berlusconi, without the bunga-bunga room (well, he may have the bunga bunga, but he doesn't have the room.)

Bernie Sanders as Jeremy Corbyn, without the anti-Semitism.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pre-Valentine's Day Checklist

Listen up guys.  THC is always trying to be helpful, so here is a pre-Valentine's Day checklist if you remain unsure of what to do with your gal.  Courtesy of Jimi Hendrix and designed to answer the question "is this love, baby or is it just confusion?".

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Liberty: The Sanitary Fair Speech the imaginative conservative)

The President's train pulled into Baltimore's Camden Station promptly at 6:00 on the evening of April 18, 1864.  It was one of his few trips outside of Washington during the Civil War.  Abraham Lincoln carried with him the knowledge that the crucial spring campaign of the Union armies under their new commander, Ulysses S Grant, would begin in just two weeks; a coordinated plan of attack in which George Meade's Army of the Potomac (accompanied by Grant) would set out to destroy Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and William Tecumseh Sherman's troops would march on Atlanta (to learn more, read The Overland Campaign Begins).  Its success or failure would determine the outcome of the war and of Lincoln's presidency as he faced his own campaign, for reelection in what was expected to be a close race that year.

The event that drew the President to Baltimore was the Maryland State Fair for U.S. Soldier Relief, more popularly known as the Sanitary Fair.  The idea of two members of the Ladies Union Relief Association, Ann Bowen and Fanny Turnbull, the Baltimore fair, like those in other Union cities was designed to raise funds for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, the major national relief organization for aiding sick and wounded Union soldiers.

For the opening day of the fair, which ran until April 30, businesses and schools in the city closed at noon, followed by a large parade featuring thousands of Union soldiers, including 3,000 African-Americans of the newly formed United States Colored Troops.

For Lincoln, it was his first visit to the city since he was forced, by the discovery of a plot against his life, to secretly pass through Baltimore on the way to his inauguration in 1861.  It was also timely, as the Maryland assembly was debating a new constitution which contained a provision ending slavery.

An audience of about 3,000 heard the President make some brief remarks to officially open the fair, which was held in the Maryland Institute, a spacious exhibit hall, illuminated that night by a thousand gas lamps. Maryland Institute, site of the Sanitary Fair(Maryland Institute from baltimore city archives)

Lincoln began by touching on a theme that he would expand upon in his Second Inaugural Address, given in March 1865.
When the war began, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, expected it would last till now. Each looked for the end, in some way, long ere to—day. Neither did any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much affected by the war. But here we are; the war has not ended, and slavery has been much affected—how much needs not now to be recounted. So true is it that man proposes, and God disposes.

He then reminded the audience that "liberty" is not self-defining.  It may mean very different things to different people.
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.

How true!  Each generation of Americans is called on to define that word.

And then the President delivered this parable:
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing something to define liberty; and thanks to them that, in what they have done, the wolf’s dictionary, has been repudiated.

Lincoln closed by mentioning recent reports of a terrible event at Fort Pillow, Tennessee where it was claimed that 300 Negro soldiers and their white officers had been massacred by Confederates.  Six days earlier the fort had been captured by rebels after a fierce fight.  Today, it is generally recognized that an undetermined, but substantial, number of Negro soldiers and white officers were, in fact, killed while attempting to surrender.  Lincoln vowed to determine the truth of the reports, adding:
Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the Christian world, to history, and on my final account to God. Having determined to use the negro as a soldier, there is no way but to give him all the protection given to any other soldier.

This relatively little known speech is another reminder of Lincoln's ability to be eloquent and meaningful in a few words.

The full speech can be found here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Ruined Tower

Painted in 1838 by the American artist, Thomas Cole, Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower, was generally not known to the public until purchased by the National Gallery of Art from a private collector in 1993.
 File:Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower-1838-Thomas Cole.jpg

The tower is similar to those THC has seen along the Amalfi Coast and commonly known as Saracen Towers, originally built in the 9th and 10th centuries to provide early warning of Saracen pirates coming from Sicily and North Africa.  To see what one of these towers looks like today go here and here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gettin' Sardonic With Elvis Costello (Vol. 1) seventiesmusic)

To paraphrase Keith Moon, Elvis Costello is the best Elvis Costello-style lyricist of the rock era, by turns sardonic, witty, caustic and king of the put-down of himself, and others.  Add in a large vocabulary, (his first compliation of published music and lyrics was entitled "A Singing Dictionary"), and a love of wordplay and puns (see, for example, Girls Talk, below) and you've got a great package for a lyricist if you like those attributes, as THC does (for more on THC's experience with Elvis read this).  As the years went by, he also added a dose of tenderness into his verse.

In this post, we'll give you some excerpts from the early Elvis, drawing from albums released from 1977 though 1981.  Some pop lyrics don't sound as good, once they are separated from the music.  These do.

I said, "I'm so happy, I could die"
She said, "Drop dead",
Then left with another guy
(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes 

You snatch a tune, you match a cigarette
She pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet
I don't know how much more of this I can take
She's filing her nails, while they're dragging the lake

You think you're alone until you realize you're in it
Fear is here to stay
Love is here for a visit
Watching The Detectives

All of your family had to kill to survive
And they're still waiting for their big day to arrive
But if they knew how I felt they'd bury me alive
Welcome To The Working Week

I could tell by the nights when I was lonely
And you were the only one who'd come
I could tell you that I like your sensitivity
When you know it's the way that you walk
Why do you have to say that there's always someone
Who can do it better than I can?
But don't you think that I know
That walking on the water, won't make me a miracle man?
Miracle Man

Well, I see you got a husband now
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hands
I'll bet he took all he could take
Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
When I hear the silly things that you say

Alison, I know this world is killing you
Alison, my aim is true

I remember when the lights went out
And I was trying to make it look like it was never in doubt
She thought that I knew, and I thought that she knew
The both of us were willing, but we didn't know how to do it

I was down under the covers in the middle of the night
Trying to discover my left foot from my right
You can see those pictures, in any magazine
But what's the use of looking, when you don't know what they mean?

Why don't you tell me 'bout the mystery dance?
Mystery Dance

You're upstairs with the boyfriend
While I'm left here to listen
I hear you calling his name
I hear the stutter of ignition

I got this cam'ra click, click, clickin' in my head

I know what you're doin'
I know where you been
I know where, but I don't care
Cause there's no such thing as an original sin

I'm not angry
I'm not angry, anymore
I'm Not Angy

We were waiting for the end of the world
Dear Lord, I sincerely hope you're coming
Cause you really started something
Waiting For The End Of The World

Sometimes I call you, when I know you're not lonely
But I always disconnect it in time
No Action 

I keep thinking about your mother
Oh, I don't want to lick them
I don't wanna be a lover
I just wanna be your victim
I don't go out much late at night
I don't go out much at all
Did you think you were the only one
That was waiting for a call?
The Beat 

No, don't ask me to apologize
I won't ask you to forgive me
If I'm gonna go down
You're gonna come with me

Hand In Hand

Lip service is all you'll ever get from me
Lip Service

Don't say you love me, when it's just a rumour
Don't say a word if there is any doubt
Sometimes I think that love is just a tumour
You've got to cut it out

You say you're sorry for the things that you've done
You say your sorry but you know you don't mean it
I wouldn't worry, I had so much fun
Sometimes I almost feel just like a human being

Maybe they've told you
You were only a girl in a million
You say I got no feelings
This is a good way to kill them

You got a lot to say
Well, I'm not joking
There are some words they don't allow to be spoken
Lipstick Vogue

There are so many people to see
So many people you can check up on and add to your collection
But they keep you hanging on
Until you're well hung
Your mouth is made up but your mind is undone

Accidents will happen
We only hit and run
He used to be your victim
Now he's not the only one

Accidents will happen
We only hit and run
I don't want to hear it
Cause I know what I've done
Accidents Will Happen

But you tease and you flirt
And you shine all the buttons on your green shirt
You can please yourself
But somebody's gonna get it
Green Shirt

I could be a corporal, into corporal punishment
Or the general manager of a large establishment
They pat some good boys on the back and put some to the rod
But I never thought they'd put me on the goon squad
Goon Squad

Photographs of fancy tricks
To get your kicks at sixty six
He thinks of all the lips that he licks
And all the girls that's gonna fix

She gave a little flirt, gave herself a little cuddle
But there's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle
Capital punishment, she's last year's model
They call her Natasha, but she looks like Elsie
I don't want to go to Chelsea

Oh no, it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
I don't want to check your pulse
I don't want nobody else
I don't want to go to Chelsea
(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea

The word upon everyone's lip stick
That you're dedicated
You may not be an old-fashioned girl
You're still going to get dated
Girls Talk

She said, "I catch you taking liberties,
And they do not impress me
Attach me to your credit card
And then you can undress me"
Crawling To The U.S.A.

I wish I had your confidence
It's love and not coincidence
Do you say these words to everyone?
You're fantastic, you're terrific
Your excellence is almost scientific
You took the words out of my mouth
You put your tongue into my cheek
But I'd better lose my memory by Wednesday week
Wednesday Week

Big tears mean nothing
You can count them as they fall
Big tears mean nothing
When you're lying in your coffin
Tell me, who's been taken in?
Big Tears

Layin' about, lying in bed
Maybe it was something that I thought I'd said
With the tempo of today
And the temptation of tomorrow
I could give you anything but sorrow
Just A Memory

Maureen and Stan at the skating rink
Looking for the drummer who threw up in the sink
Laughing and singing, dressed up like dice
Maybe they could freeze to death out there on the ice
Ghost Train

You've never been this far
You've always been too smart
And you know all our boys
Are really girls at heart

This is your big decision
Hope you're not disappointed
He's got double vision
When you want him double jointed
The Imposter

If there's anything that you want
If there's anything that you need
There's no need, to be evasive
Money talks, and it's persuasive

Now you're sending me your best wishes
Signed with love and vicious kisses
You lack lack, you're so lackluster
Is that all the strength you can muster?

Down on the mainspring, listen to the tick-tock
Clock all the faces who move in on your block
Twice shy and dog tired because you've been bitten
Everything you say now sounds like it was ghost-written
New Amsterdam

I was looking at the black and white world
Trying to name some pin-up
Those days, she was just a beautiful girl
Now she's framed and hung up

I though she was young until
I saw her last night in close detail
Though they all fade away, when you're so pale

It's more than just a physical attraction
It starts with a face and ends up a fixation
But you're never gonna feel a fraction
Of the way it used to work on your imagination
Black And White World (undoubtedly inspired by Pictures of Lily from The Who)

The subtle touch of authority
Will take you anytime down to the station
You say that is all right by me
Now you're living with the curse of sophistication

You're just itching to break her secret laws
As you go from claws to clause
Give me temptation


Monday, February 8, 2016

What Happened??

Watching this presidential campaign has caused me to reflect on the beliefs my parents sought to instill in me growing up from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.  They had different ways of communicating.  Mom, who held positions in the local and state Democratic party, was always pretty direct.  Dad preferred to do it through the stories he told us, which contained the messages he wanted us to absorb.  Looking back, I'd distill the common points as:

1.  The United States was the best country in the world and we were fortunate to be Americans.
2.  In order to succeed you needed to work hard (that's not the same as saying "if you work hard, you will succeed").
3.  The treatment of Negroes (as they were called then) was a disgrace, in both the South and North. We needed to support the civil rights movement and I must treat everyone with respect.  The only basis for discrimination in treating people was their behavior.
4.  The Commies were bad, really bad.  Before I went off to college, Mom gave me a lecture on how to recognize a Commie front group.
5.  We had a obligation to help the neediest, those who could not help themselves.*
6.  FDR was a great president, the best so far in the 20th century.

Half a century later, I'm still with Mom and Dad on 5 1/2 out of 6**.  So how come when I look at President Obama, the grifter Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, an old man filled with bitterness, envy and greed, I think "what the hell happened to my party?", and find myself a card carrying member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy? (I'd include an image of my membership card here but we've been instructed to never display it to non-members; there's also a secret handshake and passwords involved.)

And lo, what Beast comes slouching towards us, to devour all? . . .  It's The Donald.


* "Those who could not help themselves" had a much narrower definition for my parents than it does for today's Progressives. ***

** Today I think FDR a great war president, particularly about the strategic decisions he made in the first eighteen months of the war; he did some good stuff about the banking system at the start of his first term; and, having listened to several of his Fireside Chats, can understand why he was successful in raising people's spirits during the worst of the Depression.  On the other hand, most of his economic policy during the Depression amounted, at best, to useless hand-waving and, at worst, to delaying America's recovery and the damage he did to the Supreme Court and constitutional law still reverberates more than 75 years later.

FDR and Reagan had the best Presidential temperament of anyone who held the office during the 20th century.  I'd pick Ike as #3, which only goes to remind us that temperament and temper are two different matters, since Ike was known to lose his frequently.

***  And speaking of FDR, here he is speaking to Congress in 1935:
The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.  To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit . . .. It is in violation of the traditions of America.
When FDR discovered that the draft Social Security bill was not a contributory pension, he ordered it rewritten, complaining "This is the same old dole under another name".

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Love Parade

THC stumbled across this scene from the 1929 musical comedy, The Love Parade, starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in her first film role.  The movie was made early in the "talkie" era.  The Jazz Singer, considered the first talking film, and released in October 1927, had become a smash hit, but the first all-talkie film from a Hollywood studio, Lights Of New York, wasn't released until July 1928 and one of the largest studios, Columbia Pictures, didn't release its first sound film until February 1929.

The Love Parade was German-born director Ernest Lubitsch's first talkie and the film hit it big at the box office.  Later in his career, Lubitsch was to make classics like The Shop Around The Corner, a charming film set in Budapest and starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan; Heaven Can Wait with Don Ameche and Gene Tierney; and the very funny To Be Or Not To Be, starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny (and later remade by Mel Brooks), proving how unique the Lubitsch touch was as he's the only director who could have made a hit comedy involving Nazis in Occupied Poland during World War II.

The song is Anything To Please The Queen and it's enjoyable to watch and focus on the actor's reactions, particularly MacDonald's, while Chevalier has a very funny bit around 1:25.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The State Of Massachusetts

We've featured this once before, but THC was listening to it again today and wanted to do a reprise - this time with the lyrics and a different video.  An intense and powerful song from the Dropkick Murphys.
She had excuses and she chose to use them
She was the victim of unspeakable abuses
Her husband was violent, malicious and distant
Her kids now belong to the state of Massachusetts

They've been taken away! Hey!
They've been taken away!

Billy was a bright one, Tommy's off his head
Mother loved them both the same, at least that's what she said
I don't predict the future, I don't care about the past
Send them both to DSS [Department of Social Services], now you've had your chance

The poison stole your babies
The judges took your rights
You can have your children or the night

I suppose you've been a victim, I suspect you may have lied
Have you lost all ambition, won't you give this thing a try
If you can't and you fail, you won't be the only loser
These kids don't stand a chance with you in their future

They've been taken away! Hey!
They've been taken away!

Friday, February 5, 2016

No Cuba Libre

Last Sunday's Washington Post carried an editorial titled "Failure In Cuba", taking the Obama administration to task for it failure to achieve what it declared were the goals of its policy restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries - "to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans" and "to engage and empower the Cuban people".

The Post is downright scathing about what has happened since normalization began in December 2014, after the mid-term elections, when the President felt it was safe to undertake his initiative:
Yet there is scant evidence so far of a sea change in Cuba — perhaps because Mr. Obama continues to offer the Castro regime unilateral concessions requiring nothing in return. Since the United States has placed no human rights conditions on the opening, the Castro regime continues to systematically engage in arbitrary detention of dissidents and others who speak up for democracy. In fact, detentions have spiked in recent months. The state continues to monopolize radio, television and newspapers.

The administration has defined one of its goals as opening Cuba to the Internet, but the nation still suffers from some of the lowest connectivity rates in the world. The regime established a few dozen Wifi spots but charges people $2 an hour to use them; the average salary is $20 a month. The state retains a chokehold on the economy, including tourism; the benefits of a 50 percent increase in U.S. visitors are being garnered by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law, the industry’s boss. .Meanwhile, Cuba’s purchases of U.S. goods have fallen by a double-digit percentage.

What’s most evident over the past year is that the Castro brothers are effectively preventing real change and reform even as they reap the rewards of Mr. Obama’s opening. The president’s only response has been more unilateral concessions, along with talk of a visit to the island before he leaves office. Autocrats everywhere must be watching with envy the Castros’ good fortune.
THC has written before about the reality of Cuba (see Top 5 Reasons We Ended Cuba EmbargoSolving Income Inequality (reporting on Cuba's maximum wage of $20 a month), and New York Times Has Second Thoughts On Cuba (THC was joking)).  He was not opposed to a change in America's policy towards Cuba if it involved a mutual opening up, but that is far from what has happened.  Instead the Castro brothers, reputed to be worth hundreds of million dollars, are thriving while the Cuban people continue to suffer.

Beyond what even the Post editorial mentions is that U.S. government contact with dissidents is now less than it was before December 2014, because our contacts are now directed through the government instead of around it.  The dissidents report they are demoralized by what has happened.

President Obama's actions have been shameful.  As with so much else the President has done, THC finds his real motives unfathomable.  THC remembers every president since JFK.  Some we think highly of, others not so much, but he's always had a sense of why they acted the way they did.  Perhaps someday, we'll really get a sense of the inner man and what he really thinks of us and the world.  From what we can see on the outside it's very disturbing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Forgotten Americans: Henry Lafayette Dodge

. . . to read about some other Forgotten Americans, go here. redstone tours)

In Blood And Thunder, his splendid account of the life of Kit Carson and the mid-19th century conflicts in the American southwest,  Hampton Sides chronicles the story of the Navajo as they fought the Spanish, other tribes, and finally the Americans, after the occupation of New Mexico by General Stephen Kearny in 1846.  For most of the next twenty years, the relationship between the United States and the Navajos was troubled, but Hampton noted one exception:
"During the mid-1850s there was perhaps only one bright spot in the American-Navajo relationship.  For a few brief years a truly competent man held the office of Indian agent to the Navajo people.  His name was Henry Linn Dodge, a perceptive young man from Wisconsin who had lived for years in the territory."
This brief mention caught the eye of THC and he undertook some research, quickly learning that Henry L (HL) Dodge remains an honored figure by the Navajo tribe to this day.  He also found that the first full biography of HL Dodge had been published very recently: Red Shirt: The Life And Times of Henry Lafayette Dodge by Lawrence D Sundberg, a work which took the author twenty years to research and write, and from which much of this account is taken.  An anthropologist who taught for many years among the Navajo, and speaks their language, Sundberg is also the author of Dinetah: An Early History Of The Navajo PeopleRed Shirt is a fascinating read that gives a flavor of life during America's westward expansion. The story of HL and his family is typical of the adventuresome and restless characters who moved constantly westwards during the 19th century.

HL's grandfather, Israel Dodge, and his brother, John, emigrated west from Connecticut in the late 1770s, eventually making their way to Kaskaskia along the Mississippi River in modern-day Illinois.  A rough, small settlement with a substantial percentage of French population, Kaskaskia was isolated in the surrounding wilderness.  The Dodge brothers were ambitious, rowdy and occasionally lawless as they sought their fortunes. Under the Treaty of Paris (1783), the area became part of the new United States but by the end of the decade the Dodges had worn out their welcome in Kaskaskia and relocated across the river to Saint Genevieve in the Spanish territory of Missouri (in the 1790s, the two towns were on the opposite side of the Mississippi but the river has since shifted its channel, leaving both on the west bank).

Israel's son, Henry Dodge, who'd been left behind in Kentucky with Henry's wife, rejoined his father in the early 1790s.  Israel and young Henry prospered under the Spanish and, after the territory became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, became mine and property owners as well as public officials.  Henry was a lowly recruit in former Vice-President Aaron Burr's conspiracy to detach the new Louisiana territories from the United States.  Upon hearing of President Thomas Jefferson denunciation of Burr's actions as an act of treason, Henry deserted Burr though he was subsequently indicted as a participant though the charges were eventually dropped (for more on this strange, and still controversial, episode see The General Was A Spy).   Three years later, in 1810, Henry Lafayette Dodge was born.  HL never liked his given middle name (selected by his father in honor of Marquis de Lafayette; as a young soldier, Israel Dodge and Lafayette had both been wounded at the Battle of Brandywine in 1777; for more, read Lafayette's Tour) and never used it once he'd left Wisconsin; although he is now often referred to as Henry Linn, during his time in New Mexico he was known as Henry L.; Linn was the last name of his father's half brother, Lewis Fields Linn (d. 1843)).   

Henry Dodge became a general of the Missouri militia during the War of 1812.  However, during the 1820s, the family's financial fortunes suffered and, in 1827, Dodge moved the entire family, including HL, to the booming river town of Galena, Illinois (a 20-day upstream journey by keelboat), leaving behind a mountain of debt., from steamboat times)

Shortly after arriving in Galena, Henry Dodge relocated his family once again into what is today Iowa County, Wisconsin in the southwestern part of the territory.  The settlement he founded, along with forty other lead miners, became known as Dodgeville and is today the county seat.  In the Black Hawk War of 1832, "General" Dodge commanded the territorial militia, leading them during the final battle of the campaign against the Sauk and Fox Indians in which 22-year old HL served as a lieutenant.  Like many frontier wars, it originated in a welter of confusion and misunderstandings.  The Sauk and Fox had been driven by the Americans out of Wisconsin and into Iowa, where they were subject to attacks from their traditional Indian enemies.  Desperate to escape their tormentors and return to their homeland, about 1,300 tribe members recrossed the Mississippi triggering a war.  Quickly realizing their dreams of a return would not be realized the Indians attempted to surrender but their efforts were not understood and they were violently repulsed.  Massacres occurred on both sides, climaxing in a final battle in which the Indians were bloodily defeated, with men,women and children killed.  The outcome of the war transformed the Wisconsin territory.  At the time of the Black Hawk War there were fewer than 10,000 white settlers.  By the mid-1840s the population had grown to 155,000. brittanica)

In 1833, President Andrew Jackson appointed Henry Dodge commander of the First Regiment of United States Dragoon.  Among his junior officers were Stephen Kearny, who would later conquer New Mexico, and Jefferson Davis (who despised Dodge).  Three years later, Jackson named Dodge the first governor of the new Wisconsin Territory, a role in which he served until 1841 and then again from 1845 to 1848, when Wisconsin was admitted to the Union and Dodge became its first senator.
(Senator Henry Dodge)

In the same year, HL married Adele Bequette, whom he had known in Saint Genevieve.  It was also becoming clear that, for reasons that remain unclear, Henry Dodge had selected HL's younger brother, Augustus, as his political heir and began grooming him for higher things, though HL continued to look after the family business interests.  August Caesar Dodge became Iowa's first territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress and then one of the state's first two senators after its admission to the Union.  Augustus Caesar and Henry Dodge are the only father and son to serve in the U.S. Senate at the same time.

HL and Adele soon started a family, having four children and, from 1838 through 1843, HL served as postmaster at Dodgeville, along with running an inn and store in the town (the post office was housed in the store - synergy!).  Like his father and brother, HL was active in Democratic party politics and in 1843 was elected Sheriff of Iowa County, uneventfully holding the office until December 1844 when he became clerk of the U.S. District Court for Iowa County.

Then, in May 1846, HL Dodge vanished from Wisconsin, leaving his wife and children, never to see them again.  His presence is next documented on August 28, 1846 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when Stephen Kearny, in the process of establishing a civil administration for the newly conquered territory announced:
Henry L Dodge is appointed Treasurer of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the place of Francisco Ortis, who, in consequence of sickness, is unable to perform the duties.  
Why did HL leave Wisconsin, leaving his wife and young children to a life of poverty (though General Dodge did his best to help the family over the years)?  In Red Shirt, author Sundberg tries to unravel the mystery.  Though HL had business debts and been arrested a couple of times for assault and battery, Sundberg's speculation centers around a sworn deposition given by Andrew J Hewett on May 21, 1846 just after Dodge disappeared.  Hewett had sued Dodge for an unpaid debt of $124 and according to Sundberg's summary of the deposition:
He knew for a fact that Henry L Dodge had left Wisconsin and that "he has had very grave and serious family difficulties" and that Adele had "separated from him"'.  He also flatly stated that Dodge had left his home "at a late hour of the night taking his clothing with him".
Sundberg goes on to speculate, based upon some complicated family history, that what may have driven HL Dodge to leave was his wife's discovery that he had two illegitimate children while they were married.  As the author notes:
Political infighting, duels and pummelings, debts and deceptions and fraud; all those peccadilloes were discussed openly in Wisconsin . . . but in the personal letters and in the press one subject was never addressed directly and only alluded to with the most circumspect similes.  That was the subject of sex and extra-marital sex.
With General Dodge governor of the territory and pushing for statehood amidst his political enemies, a scandal involving his son could have been devastating.  Sundberg makes an informed guess that Henry Dodge helped with his son's flight.  Stephen Kearny had served under Dodge in the First Dragoons and the two had a good relationship.  On May 13, 1846, the United States had declared war on Mexico and, in anticipation, Kearny had earlier been ordered to assemble an army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, near the Missouri border, with instructions to march on Santa Fe, once war was declared.

Kearny's Army of the West did not leave until the end of June, 1846, giving HL plenty of time to make the journey from Wisconsin and join the expedition.  It is very possible HL carried a letter from his father to Kearny.  HL did not enlist, nor is he shown on any roster of teamsters so it is uncertain in what capacity he accompanied the 2,000 man army on its journey across the Great Plains, a great feat of logistics, planning and leadership by Kearny who later in the year, accompanied by a little more than 100 dragoons, undertook an epic journey, guided by Kit Carson, across the southwest desert to San Diego, a trek which THC will feature in a post on October 6, 2016.

Kearny was able to occupy Santa Fe without a fight, entering on August 18 and quickly moving to establish civil government, leading to HL Dodge's appointment.

The world Kearny and the other Americans entered was different from anything they'd seen before.  There was the light and blue sky amidst dramatic rock formations with little grass or forest.  The Spanish colony (part of the new nation of Mexico since 1821) was in many respects unchanged since its founding in the late 16th century as the second European settlement within the boundaries of what was to become the United States.  Isolated by 1,000 miles from the nearest substantial settlements in Spanish Mexico it had existed as a US_Southern_Colonies_Arizona_page-2.jpg(Nuevo Mexico, with Santa Fe to north) beleaguered outpost, from which at one time the native Pueblos had temporarily expelled the settlers (see Pueblo Revolt).  For 250 years, the Spanish (now Mexicans) and Indians had existed in a state of perpetual hostility.  To the east were the Comanche who ruled the Great Plains.  To the north, south and west, the Apache (Jicarillo, Chiricahua, Mescalero), Utes, Navajo and other tribes.  Both sides raided each other for sheep, horses and slaves.  Not only did the tribes fight the Mexicans but they were constantly at war with each other.

(This map of present day New Mexico can serve for orientation.  During the 1840s & 50s, settlements were strung out from around Taos in the north through Santa Fe and Albuquerque and further south along the Rio Grande, which roughly follows I-25 from Santa Fe to the Texas border.  The major route to Navajo country follows I-40 west from Albuquerque, and Dodge's initial trading post at Ciboletta was about where the I-40 icon is located.  Fort Defiance was located just north of where I-40 enters Arizona.)
(map via wikimedia)

The largest and most feared of the tribes were the Navajo, with an estimated population of 10-12,000, , having settled in the area perhaps 400 years earlier after having traveled south along the front of the Rocky Mountains from the northern plains. Unlike their counterparts on the Great Plains, the Navajo were a pastoral people herding large flocks of thousands of sheep, cultivating crops, including large orchards of peach trees in the Canyon de Chelly in the heart of their homeland, which covered all of central and northern New Mexico, west of the Rio Grande, northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah, and living in semi-permanent dwellings.  Like most tribes, they were very loosely organized with no formal governing structure, a situation incomprehensible to the Americans they were soon to encounter.,_Monument_Valley.jpg
(Navajo hogan, from wikicommons)

The living conditions for the Mexicans were primitive even by the standards of frontier Americans.  As Sundberg writes:
"To the unprepared American traveler, it was as if he'd suddenly dropped through a hole in the modern world and landed with a thud on the outskirts of biblical Jerusalem. 
The Indians were baffled by American attempts to arrange treaties and a cessation of hostilities. Initially, the tribes were pleased that the Americans had defeated the Mexicans, but they could not understand why they couldn't continue to raid their settlements.  On November 23, 1846, the American army met with the Navajo near present day Gallup, New Mexico to discuss a treaty.  Zarcillos Largos, one of the tribe's headmen is recorded as telling the Americans:
"You have a strange cause of war against the Navajos.  We have waged war against New Mexicans for several years.  We have plundered their villages and killed many of their people, and made many prisoners.  We had just cause for all this.  You have lately commenced a war against the same people.   You are powerful.  You have great guns and many brave soldiers.  You have therefore, conquered them, the very thing we have been attempting to do for so many years.  You now turn upon us for attempting to do what you have done yourselves.  We cannot see why you have cause of a quarrel with us for fighting the New Mexicans on the west, while you do the same thing on the east.  Look how matters stand.  This is our war.  We have more right to complain of you interfering in our war, than you have to quarrel with us for continuing a war we had begun long before you got here.
A treaty was arranged, but it quickly broke down among mutual misunderstandings, the continuing hostility of the Mexican population, quarrels among the tribes and the insistence of the Americans on imposing a governance structure on the tribes that simply didn't make any sense in their world.  Even with that, Largos later told the Americans that the Navajo were willing to join them "at any time [to fight] against the Mexicans".

The next decade saw a constant series of crises between the Americans, the Mexicans and the tribes brought on by raids, random murders, kidnapping for purposes of slavery, rustling and every kind of unruly activity.  Things got bad that in 1852, the commander of the American garrison wrote the Secretary of War recommending, according to Sundberg:
 "New Mexico was clearly a waste of American effort and money.  The 'class of our people' would never want to live there.  The country was so lawless that only a military dictatorship could suppress the chaos.  The colonel suggested pulling out altogether and giving the territory back to the Mexicans, leaving them enough weapons to fight off the wild Indians".  
Secretary of War Conrad openly endorsed the idea and there was talk of turning the entire territory into an Indian reservation, though the opposition of the local Mexican population carried the day.

This was the situation in which Henry L Dodge found himself (once in New Mexico he never used his middle name of Lafayette).  On July 15, 1847 he enlisted as a private in the Santa Fe Battalion of Mounted Volunteers.  In enlistment papers he is described as 5'9", with a florid complexion, gray eyes, dark hair and his occupation as lawyer. Fe, 1840s, from wikimedia)

Based on Sundberg's narrative we can tell a few more things about HL Dodge; he was smart, had a sense of humor, an easygoing and open personality, was good with languages, quickly learning Spanish and passable Navajo, seemed less burdened with some of the common prejudices of the day, and liked the ladies.

After serving in Santa Fe and Taos, Dodge was discharged on August 28, 1848.  In November he was appointed Notary Public for Santa Fe, a financially lucrative post signaling he had established strong political connections.

By March 1849 he was back in the military as captain of an infantry company composed of sixty men, mostly Mexican.  He participated in an expedition that summer against the Ute and Jicarilla in northern New Mexico.  While the expedition was underway, a fiasco occurred in which a group of Navajo leaders at a gathering at a military outpost were the subject of an outburst of violence caused by yet another misunderstanding.  Several Navajos were killed, including Narbona, the 80 year old senior headman of the tribe.  Lodge was involved in trying to prevent this event from triggering a war and in September the Navajo agreed to another treaty. HL was the only American commended in  report to the U.S. Commissioner for Indian Affairs.

A few weeks after being mustered out of the army in late September, Dodge was appointed Quartermaster and Commissary agent for a new army outpost at Ciboletta, about 50 miles west of Alburquerque, near the Laguna pueblo.  His job was to find and procure supplies for the dragoons stationed in the remote outpost and it served as his primary base until 1853.

Dodge was a wanderer and from Ciboletta he could indulge himself while fulfilling his trading and commissary obligations.  It also gave him an opportunity to get to know the Navajo.  At Ciboletta he lived with Juana Sandoval by whom he had two children.  As his reputation for fairness grew, he was often called in to mediate disputes among the tribes and between the Americans, Mexicans and Indians. Coloradas, Apache, from

Dodge was even able to establish a relationship with Mangas Coloradas, the great chief of the Chiricahua Apache and helped broker a peace between the tribe and the Americans in 1852. By the following year, the beleaguered U.S. civilian and military leaders, with the likely encouragement of Wisconsin Senator Henry Dodge, decided to appoint HL Dodge as Indian agent for the Navajo, the pueblos of Azuni, Laguna and Acoma and the seven secluded towns of the Hopi.  Dodge's agency covered 79,000 square miles, an area the size of Nebraska.  It was quite a challenge, since the Navajo and the other tribes were enemies of long standing though Dodge was to spend almost all his time with the Navajo.

Supported by a minimal budget, an Indian agent's role was to represent the government to his Indian charges and vice versa, encouraging the tribes to abide by their agreements and to provide them with promised supplies.  Most agents did not reside with their tribes and saw it as a potentially profitable opportunity and had no specialized knowledge or affinity for Indians.  Dodge would do it differently.

In September 1851, the U.S. army decided it needed to project its power into Navajo country and took a risk in building Fort Defiance, a lonely outpost just across the current day border with Arizona and more than 150 miles from the nearest substantial New Mexican settlement.  Its main source for food was the Zuni pueblo, seventy miles away. turtletrack),_ARIZONA_-_NARA_-_524283.jpg
(Navajo at Fort Defiance)

Unlike our images of a Western fort surrounded by a stockade, Ft Defiance consisted of several buildings, stables, and a stockade for livestock but was open to the surrounding area.  Manned by a garrison of about 190 infantry it was the logical place to house Dodge's agency if his intent was to reside close to his clients.

But that's not what HL did.  Feeling confident that his personal relationships with the Navajo were strong, he decided to live amongst them, setting up his agency about thirty miles northeast of the fort near the Chuska mountains. Those relationships may have been particularly close because according to Navajo lore, Red Shirt (the name they gave him because of his love of red flannel shirts) had taken a Navajo wife who was closely related to headman Zarcillos Largos which made him a kinsman to the tribe.  If this had become known to Dodge's American bosses the relationship would have caused a scandal.

Dodge quickly got to work, requesting farming equipment, a constant refrain in his letters.  Here's one sent to the superintendent for Indian Affairs in the territory in the spring of 1855:
"This Spring bids fair for a good croping year as much snow has fallen in the Mountains of Chuski, Tounicha, & canon Blanco, and the Indians in the above mentioned places are much in want of about 200 hoes and one dozen axes please send me the hoes and axes if possible . . ."
He also introduced silversmithing to the Navajo, bringing to the agency an experienced silversmith to teach the craft.  According to Sundberg the "most notable student, Herrero Delgadito, most likely started the distinctively styled Navajo silverwork". silversmith Jim Wilson, from Tusconweekly)

A lot of his work was done from the saddle, riding more than 1,000 miles in his first three months on the job (July-Sept 1853).  He was busy crossing Navajo country to collect thousands of stolen sheep and horses that the tribe had agreed to return to the settlements along the Rio Grande as well as negotiating a peaceful settlement to a dispute between the Navajo and the Jicarilla Apache.

While Dodge was successful at keeping the peace he was notoriously terrible at writing reports to his superiors and keeping accurate accounts.  Often he'd go months between reports and some of the ones he did send contained only one sentence; government audits of his accounts always found deficiencies.  He was saved because of the unusual circumstance of having both a territorial governor and superintendent of Indian Affairs who recognized the value of his work, were willing to give him some leeway, and were themselves flexible in their thinking of how best to deal with the Indians. 

This was even more true of the man who became Dodge's closest ally, Major Henry Lane Kendrick, commander of the outpost at Fort Defiance.  Dodge and Kendrick worked together well and while Kendrick was a strict disciplinarian he had more sensitivity about the Navajo than any of his predecessors or successors.  It was at Kendrick's urging that after a few months Dodge relocated his agency to Fort Defiance.

Together, over the next three years, they were able to maintain the peace.  As early as June 1854, the Santa Fe Gazette, a paper which had constantly called for ejecting the Indians from the area, noted:
"Until with the past year or two, the Navajoes, for the last thirty-five years, have been constantly committing depredations upon the Mexicans; and this change in their conduct can only be attributed to the action of Agent Dodge in locating himself in the heart of their nation, which, thus far, has exercised the most beneficent influence over them."
There were an endless and ongoing series of incidents to deal with.  Renegade Navajo murdering New Mexican herders and stealing their livestock; Navajo being blamed for raiding and killing by other Indians; New Mexicans kidnapping Navajo children and grazing their stock on Navajo land.  Each one had the potential to escalate into full scale conflict and each was defused.  With Dodge's advice and help, Kendrick resisted quick military responses to provocations which increased the chances for peaceful resolution.

The kidnapping of children, which had gone on for centuries, was a particular sore point for both parties.  New Mexicans insisted that the Americans ensure by treaty that the tribes return their kidnapped children, yet resisted returning the Indian children they had kidnapped (a significantly higher number than those held by the Indians).  Dodge was, for the first time, able to obtain the release of some Navajo children.

All this occurred while the army was fighting the Jicarilla and Ute in northern New Mexico, making it even more important to maintain peace with the Navajo.  The Jicarilla War climaxed in 1854 with two events; the first on March 30 when the Indians inflicted one of the army's worst defeats in the West, attacking sixty dragoons near Taos, killing 22 and wounding 34, followed several weeks later by a successful army attack, guided by Kit Carson, which ended the war.

In November 1856, amidst rumors that the Coyotero and Mogollon Apache were raiding near the Zuni pueblo, Major Kendrick decided to mount an expedition with forty dragoons as a show of strength.  He invited Henry to along, and HL, always restless and interested in an adventure, accepted, bringing along a friend, Navajo headman Armijo.  Riding south from Zuni, the expedition moved into uplands, a rocky world of mesas and arroyo canyons, dotted with pinon pines and sage. pueblo, late 1800s, from arizonastate)

On the morning of November 19, Dodge and Armijo decided to do some hunting and split off from Kendrick's column, intending to rejoin it later in the day.  It was typical of Dodge's casual nature to ride off with only one companion while the dragoons were hunting Apache.  They soon shot a deer; Armijo dressed the carcass and volunteered to take it back to the troops.  Dodge wanted to do more hunting so the two parted ways.  Henry was never seen alive again.

By the next day, when Dodge had still not rejoined the column, Kendrick launched a thorough search, in which Armijo took the leading role, the only thing found were some tracks, clearly indicating that Dodge had encountered Apache but giving some hope that Dodge was kidnapped and still alive.  The realization that a large party of Apache had been so close to the dragoons without them having a hint of their existence was a shock.

Efforts were made to contact the Apache in order to ransom Dodge but they were unsuccessful. Two months later remains were found, making it evident Henry had been murdered shortly after encountering the Apaches.

Within a few months of Dodge's death, the entire team that he had worked with was gone.  A new territorial governor and superintendent of Indian affairs (who happened to hate all Indians) were appointed.  Major Henry Lane Kendrick was also gone by the summer of 1857, leaving to become professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.  Promoted to colonel in 1873, he retired in 1880 and was remembered as one of the most popular professors to ever teach at the academy.  In 1885, a Navajo delegation to Washington DC took a side trip to New York City to visit the retired officer whom they greatly respected.  The 80-year old Kendrick died in 1891, having caught cold serving as an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of General William Tecumseh Sherman (as did former Confederate General, Joseph E Johnston). Lane Kendrick from aztecclub)

All of the successors in New Mexico, military and civilian, were to be found wanting in their ability to keep the peace.  Several Indian agents for the Navajos were appointed in quick succession with their performance ranging from indifferent to incompetent and none able to establish the personal relationships with the tribe that Dodge had done so effectively.

in 1860, hostilities resumed between the Americans and Navajo.  By 1863 the situation was so bad  the Americans decided to put an end to it once and for all and sent a large military force under the command of Kit Carson to Canyon de Chelly, the heart of Navajo country.  The campaign accomplished its goal by laying waste to the Navajo homeland and forcing the starving Indians to surrender.  In the spring of 1864, 9,000 Navajo walked about 300 miles to a small reservation near Fort Sumner in eastern New Mexico, well outside of their traditional lands.  It was a miserable experience on flat land unsuited to agriculture and eventually the plight of the Navajo drew sympathetic attention from many Americans, including Kit Carson, who wanted them to be allowed to return to their homeland.
 (Canyon de Chelly, from launchphotography)

In 1868, yet another treaty was negotiated and the Navajo returned to the New Mexico/Arizona border area under their headman Manuelito, and armed conflicts with the U.S. government ended.  The reservation, which has been expanded several times over the years, now covers an area about the size of the state of South Carolina, making it the largest reservation in the country.  Navajo Nation, with about 300,000 members, of which 2/3 live on the reservation, is the largest tribe in the United States.

Abandoned by her husband, Adele Bequette Dodge never remarried, dying in 1905.  Of her four children with HL, only the eldest had any recollection of their father.

One of HL Dodge's grandchildren from his relationship with Juana Sandoval lived until 1966.

And then there is Henry Chee Dodge, about whom Sundberg provides some fascinating background.   Henry Chee, whose mother was Navajo, always claimed his father was Juan Amaya, Dodge's interpreter, who named him in honor of his friend, but there remains a question about whether he was really HL's son by his Navajo wife.  From the age of eight, the orphaned Henry Chee was raised at Fort Defiance by mixed Anglo-Navajo families.  HL's brother, former senator Augustus Caesar Dodge, took an interest in assuring the child was properly educated at the Fort's school.  In 1883, he became patrol chief of the Navajo police force and a year later was appointed by the Indian Agent as head chief of the Navajo Nation after the death of Manuelito.  An astute businessman, Henry Chee partnered with an Anglo to establish a profitable trading post in the Chinle Valley or as Raymond Friday Locke puts it in The Book Of The Navajo "Thrifty and well acquainted with the white man's way of doing business, he amassed a considerable fortune" and as council chairman "was shrewd in his dealings with the government", negotiating mining and oil exploration deals that brought substantial monies to the tribe. He also liked the ladies, reputedly having eight wives. Chee Dodge, 1885, from Navajo Times) Chee Dodge, 1945, from maguiresplace)

Elected as the Navajo's first tribal chairman in 1923 and serving until 1928, Henry Chee was reelected to the post in 1942.  He died on January 4, 1947.

Henry Chee's son, Thomas Dodge, graduated from St Louis University Law School and took up legal practice in Santa Fe.  From 1933 to 1936 he was Navajo tribal chairman and spent the rest of his career working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Dodge's daughter, Annie Dodge Wauneka, was an influential member of the Navajo tribal nation and became the second women on the tribal council, serving twenty seven years, and for three terms was also chairman of the council's health and welfare committee. In 1963 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.  She passed away in 1997.

HL Dodge remains an admired figure by the Navajo.  In researching this piece, THC came across many tributes to his work and sympathy for the Navajo.  A 2013 article from the Navajo Times summed it up:
He made friends with the local headmen, and when the territorial governor got tight with farm implements, he bought them for the people out of his salary. . . The small regiment at Fort Defiance proved incapable of defending the tribe against slave raids and incursions into their traditional grazing lands, and the Navajos grew restless on several occasions. But Dodge always managed to keep the peace, advocating for their rights in Santa Fe and sometimes bringing the headmen along, to the chagrin of the New Mexicans living in the capital.