Tag Archives: Truman Capote

March 12th

On this day in 1947 Truman set forth his policy that became known as the Truman Doctrine. Unfortunately, the Truman in question was Harry and not Capote. A Truman Capote Doctrine would have been enormous fun and probably have consisted of cocktails, fine frocks and suits, gossip and illicit drugs. Harry’s consisted of giving money to Greece and Turkey to make sure they didn’t become all communist and shit.

 

Churchill and Truman discuss the fact that Stalin has just farted

What we’re basically looking at is the beginning of the Cold War and all the paranoia that went with it. Greece and Turkey were looking particularly worrisome at this point. Stalin demanded partial control of the Dardanelles, the US and the UK really didn’t want this happening, so the US  – the UK were skint – gave the Turks $100 million in economic and military aid to ensure that Stalin was left with nothing. The problem in Greece was a civil war which was pitting the internationally backed government against communist rebels. Now, the rebels weren’t getting aid directly from Stalin – I’ll come back to those reasons in a moment – but from Tito who was another communist in Yugoslavia. The UK had been  helping the Greek government out but had to stop when they ran out of readies, so once again the US stepped in, gave them $400 million to stop them falling under the sway of Uncle Joe.

 

Harry’s doctrine went on to become a central pillar of US foreign policy throughout the period of the Cold War.  If there was a sniff of somewhere getting a bit to far to the left they’d intervene with aid or might. Communism was seen as a sort of domino effect; if one country went, its neighbours were sure to follow. One might see it as a grand policy all about protecting democracy and making the world a safer place. To be fair, the USSR under Stalin was hardly a bed of roses, although it was a bit thorny (yes, you may groan, I am), but there was one factor that the US seemed not to comprehend or maybe they were just ignoring it for reasons one can only wonder at.

The factor in question was Soviet might. If you know anything about WWII – and let’s face it, it’s hard not to given that every other documentary on the “Hitler Channel” is about the bloody war – you’re probably aware that the USSR was pretty much fucked by it. Nearly a whole generation of young men were annihilated, there was famine, there was want and there was an awful lot of need. Soviet might at this point in time was a joke. Stalin could no more have taken over the free world than he could have forgiven someone for getting his agitprop wrong and writing something that was anti-Stalinist. Either the US didn’t know this, or they did and acted in the way they did anyway.

Why would someone want to do that? Well, WWII had got the US out of the depression, but without the war maybe it would all go

The other Truman Doctrine

wrong again? Unlikely, but why take the chance. Of course a real war, going on all the time, would be horrid, but the Cold War sort of allowed us to be at war but not at war and to reap the benefits without having to put up with actual death and destruction. It wasn’t only the US who saw this; the USSR were quick to catch on to the economic benefits of the industrial military complex as well.  Now, I’m a dreadful old cynic and they were probably all just scared of each other and none of of them were thinking about money and might and being big ole Superpowers and all that, but its worth having a tiny bit of a think about.

 

As is Truman Capote’s non-existent Doctrine. He was, as he said himself “top banana in the shock department”, so he’d likely have had us doing unspeakably filthy things with only the alcohol et al to take the blame for our lack of morals, but I’m sure it would have been an awful lot more fun than building tens of thousands of nuclear missiles and spending decades being afraid of people who were a bit different. Booze not Bombs!

Today is the birthday  of a chap called Peter Doherty. If you care to peruse his wiki page, it will tell you that he is most famous for co-founding The Libertines with Carl Barat. This is obviously horse-shit as he is most famous for being a sweaty oleaginous smack-head who once, and we will never know how he managed it, got to be Kate Moss’s boyfriend.

To be fair to the scabby-faced fool, some of the music he produced with The Libertines is quite good, but Mr Doherty thinks of himself as a musical genius and some sort of reincarnation of William Blake; he is not. He has written poetry in blood, gone on about Albion in an attempt to make himself seem more Blake-like, got told off for driving too fast, without a licence, without insurance and with drugs in the glove compartment and somehow succeeded in making the wearing of a greasy pork-pie hat atop a filthy dirty head of hair

I don't fancy yours much

quite the thing.

 

Apparently Pete’s not as much of a junkie as he used to be, which as resulted in him getting a bit porky and sweaty, which better suits his face. He thinks he looks like a cherub, when in fact he looks like the slow kid at the back of the classroom who had a constant cold sore.

As I write each paragraph, I’m wondering if I can find something nice to say about Pete the poseur. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m all for rebellion and life as art and expression and daring to live close to the edge. I just don’t think that getting all smacked and cracked up as a rebellion is that clever and therefore see Mr Doherty as nothing more than a dough-faced buffoon.

Anyway, yada yada etc. Happy birthday Buffoon Boy. You forgot that you have to show that you have the talent before you piss it up against the wall and die young leaving everyone feeling bereft, but nobody’s perfect.

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February 15th

On this day in 1980 Lillian Hellman, in high dudgeon over some remarks made about her by Mary McCarthy, threw her toys out of the pram and got her lawyer to phone Ms McCarthy with the message “You’re sued, bitch!”

Their lack of amity stretched back over about thirty years. They’d met at a poetry reading and things had cut up a little rough – verbally at least – over the rhyming structure and origins of There was a Young Girl From Nantucket. Hellman challenged McCarthy to a poetry-off and onlookers gasped in amazement as the two women pit their wits against each other for over three hours. Eventually a sweat-sodden Hellman admitted defeat when she was up against If William of Orange had been a Banana. The fact that McCarthy had very nearly faltered on If Pigs Could Fly and Lambs wore Roller-Skates was no consolation to her and from that day forward the two eminent ladies of letters had a mutual antipathy for each other.

Fast-forward thirty years, when McCarthy was being interviewed on television and was asked about Lillian. Mary was not kind. She

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Norman Mailer's favourite fantasy

stated that Ms Hellman was not capable of writing the truth, called her a liar and laughed when she recounted the tale of the day Lillian had told everyone at a lunch table that she had invented mayonnaise. “We all would have believed her.” said Mary, “But she then went on to tell us it was made of Heinz salad cream with some cream and a couple of egg yolks added.” Lillian was absolutely furious and so she issued a lawsuit claiming $2.2 million in damages for libel.

It really was a frightful mess and while everyone agreed that Mary should have kept her mouth shut about the mayonnaise gaffe, they also thought that Lillian was being a bit of a bitch. The fact is Hellman was a bit of a fantasist and made up stories about herself all the time. It got that even she wasn’t sure when she was lying and when she was telling the truth, so suing someone for being a bit sarcastic about her predilection for telling porkies was a little rich.

Lots of people rushed to Mary’s defence, which just made Lillian crosser and then Norman Mailer suggested that they slug it out in a boxing ring, but everyone told him he was a bloody idiot and when he remembered that both women were rather elderly and therefore it wouldn’t be that good an image for his wank bank, he agreed that shutting up might be the best thing in the circumstances. The lawsuit dragged on for four years and then, luckily for everyone involved, except Lillian, Lillian shuffled off this mortal coil. Mary was able to get her life back, Mailer tried to get Cindy Crawford to argue with Princess Diana so that he could suggest his boxing ring idea again, and the literary types of New York went back to gossiping about Truman Capote. It is rumoured, though it  has never been confirmed, that Lillian’s last word was: “Mayonnaise”.

 

Today is the birthday of the singer in one of the worst bands in the world ever. The band is UB40 and the singer who screeched and barely formed the words of the poor excuses for songs that they performed, is Ali Campbell. As well as being a shit singer, Ali has been blessed with the sort of face that even a mother can’t, in all conscience, love.

UB40 have been called the most successful reggae band in the world, but critics who are not  hampered with cloth ears have said that

Campbell often did a poo in his pants while singing

UB40 are to reggae what poo is to diamonds. There most successful hit was Red, Red Wine in which Ali Campbell went for method singing, added an “h” to wine and caused many household pets to develop lemming-like tendencies whenever it was played on the radio.

 

Campbell has since left UB40 and has managed to have solo success in the face of remarkable obstacles: his voice, his face, and everything about him. Today, he celebrates his 52nd birthday, probably wearing a comedy dreadlock wig and wishing he was more like that nice Bob Marley. Happy birthday, Ali Campbell. You utter knobend.

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