A look back at 2021 – Some unfinished draft posts…

You may notice one possible missing member of this Presidents Club – by mutual consent?

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It’s the beginning of January, 2022, just after New Year’s Day. Which makes this a good time to look back on 2021, and – in my case – back on some draft posts I never finished.

One such project – last revised on January 24, 2021 – I tentatively called, “Flag distress, etc.” (And that’s why I call it a draft. A “place to make mistakes, to try out new ideas, to explore variations on existing ideas.”) It had to do with Trump supporters flying the American flag upside down, explained below. But for some reason I started the draft post off like this: “Thank you, Donald, for just giving me the lede to this new post: Trump shuns ex-presidents club.” Along with a note that “for the uninitiated, this highly-exclusive club is – or was – made up of five men:”

After serving the highest office of American government, five men – Jimmy Carter, the late George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – became members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity. In Team of Five, Kate Andersen Brower [offers] a glimpse into the complex relationships of these five former presidents, and how each of these men views his place in a nation that has been upended by the Oval Office’s current, norm-breaking occupant, President Donald Trump.

Incidentally, the full book citation is Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump. The book itself is said to offer a “poignant, news-making look at the lives of the five former presidents in the wake of their White House years, including the surprising friendships they have formed through shared perspective and empathy.” Unsurprisingly, that group of five former presidents does not include Donald Trump. (Perhaps by mutual consent, if not relief.)

Another note: It’s now a group of four, since George H. W. Bush died on November 30, 2018. And Jimmy Carter is now a ripe old 97 years of age. (“Bless his heart,” as we say in Georgia. And see also my last post, “Will I REALLY live to 120,” as to my own aspirations in that area.)

I haven’t read Ms. Brower‘s book yet, but I did read The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. And in February 2016, I did a post reviewing the book, “Brother from another mother” and other ex-Prez tales. I ended that post with a photo of three ex-presidents, with a caption asking “Who’ll be the newest member of The Presidents Club on 1/20/17?”

I never dreamt that the answer would be “Donald Trump.”

Which brings us back to those upside-down American flags. I saw an example of the phenomenon just after the Biden Inauguration: “A lifted-up Georgia pickup truck with two American flags, with both of them flying upside down. I assume the driver was a Trump supporter, so I Googled ‘upside down american flag distress.’” And found out that an upside-down American flag was designed to be a signal of “Dire distress and extreme danger to life or property.” But it’s also been used as a signal of protest, which to me brought up this thought, last year at this time: “No doubt the same people now flying the American flag upside down complained most loudly about professional athletes kneeling down during the National Anthem.”

Then again, it turns out that some people back in 2017 were Flying The Flag Upside Down To Protest Trump. As in, “to protest Trump’s being president.” So I guess that’s why the call it “Freedom of Speech.” On that note, I can say – freely and without hesitation – that Donald Trump is my favorite EX-president. (And I hope he stays that way.)

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On a happier but likely unrelated note, I started another draft post in January 2021, “On the Beatles in Hamburg.” (Last modified January 30, 2021.) That started with me watching England, the 1960s, and the Triumph of the Beatles | Wondrium. (An online course offering “a fresh look at how a pop band became one of the most compelling voices against the status quo.”)

I don’t have the space to get into all that in this post, but readers who want to look ahead can check out the in-German version of “I want to hold your hand” at Komm gib mir deine Hand (Remastered 2009) – YouTube. Or Sie liebt dich (Remastered 2009) – YouTube. For some deeper background see The Beatles in Hamburg – Wikipedia. Something to look forward to!

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The Reeperbahn nighclub as seen from the side walk with its entrance lighted. Theatre marques say "Sex" and "Peep live shows".
Hamburg‘s “Reeperbahn,” where young Beatles honed their act…

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The upper image is courtesy of Book review: “The Presidents Club” (Washington Post), with the full caption:  “From left, George H.W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, 2009. (NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST).”  

Re: Upside-down American flag. As noted, Googled “trump supporters flag upside down.” And was surprised to learn this was “nothing new under the sun.” For example, see ‘Time For My Flag to Go Up’: How Anti-Trumpers Are Reclaiming the American Flag. See also What does an Upside Down American Flag Mean? – Collins Flags Blog.

The lower image is courtesy of The Beatles in Hamburg – Wikipedia. Some notes, for use in a future post: The “Reeperbahn” was one of a number of German “dives” where the band performed. Also, “German customers found the group’s name comical, as “Beatles” sounded like Low German: ‘Piedel,’ which is an infantile word for penis.” On a similar note, “the only women who hung around [those] clubs late at night were strippers, dancers, or prostitutes. Harrison (who was then only 17) called Hamburg “the naughtiest city in the world.” 

A further note: It took me awhile to find a good definition for dive bar, like the kind the Beatles performed at in Hamburg, “typically a small, unglamorous, eclectic, old-style bar with inexpensive drinks, which may feature dim lighting, shabby or dated decor, neon beer signs, packaged beer sales, cash-only service, and a local clientele.” However, in Hamburg, each such “Beatles” club had a doorman “whose job was to entice customers inside, as the drinks were expensive.”

Finally – and also for use in a future post on the Beatles in Hamburg – I got some good background from the 2009 book, Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents, by Mikal Gilmore.

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Other notes, this one re: “Brother from another mother.” See also Another “deja vu all over again?” The Brother from another mother post told how I came to acquire the book, at the reception for a funeral for my step-mother. There was a bit in there about great politicians selling hope, gleaned from Chris Matthews’ book, Life’s a Campaign, as well as some thoughts on Shakespeare’s, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” As well as some thoughts on the “good old days,” when political opponents could “sup with their enemies:” Like Ted Kennedy admiring the fact that Ronald Reagan, an ardent conservative, “could sup with his enemies.” Kennedy said of Reagan:

He’s absolutely professional.  When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone.  He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do…   He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself…   He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it.  There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth.  And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.

I added that “supping with your enemies” is something we should bring back: “We could use a bit more professionalism in today’s politics.”

Re: “Lede.” The link is to How to Write a Lede in Journalism – 2021 – MasterClass

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