Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Norman Mailer

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Norman Mailer:

Here he is interviewed by the conservative icon, William F. Buckley. It’s too bad we can’t have such a respectful discussion between liberals and conservatives these days.

In the 1950s, many proclaimed Norman Mailer as the great American novelist, the successor of Ernest Hemingway. His career began with The Naked and the Dead (1948). During the 1950s, he struggled to write a successor that would live up to that first novel’s potential. But still the critics hoped. Unfortunately he was not Hemingway. He was Norman Mailer.

Then he took on the establishment and his persona grew and grew until he seemed to be everywhere. It made some wonder when he had time to write. It got to the point where it seemed that when Norman Mailer farted, the world stood up and applauded. Then he turned to non-fiction and journalism.

His Armies of the Night (1968) won the Pulitzer Prize. Between that book and his masterpiece, The Executioner’s Song (1979), for which he won his second Pulitzer, he wrote several journalistic works like Of A Fire on the Moon (1971) and The Fight (1975). He seemed to have found his subject, American society in the last half of the twentieth century as seen by Norman Mailer.

Norman Mailer was accused of being a misogynist. He found it easy to get into a fight. His personality was that of a brawler. Of all the writers who came out of the World War II generation, Norman Mailer seems to have the potential to become that which he dreamed of most, the great American novelist. With only a few exceptions, he fell short. It seemed like much of his life he was in search of a subject. And such a struggle it was. But always there was his ego.

For writers and artists, Mailer can be a warning. Never let your ego get in the way of your art. But one thing that Mailer reminds all of us about. Words matter, and writers matter. We forget that at our own risk. They tell us things we don’t want to hear. They tell us the truth. If for no other reason, that’s why Norman Mailer matters.

And here is Mailer’s legacy to his fellow writers:

The New Mayor

The new mayor walked through the front door of the City Hall. “Mr. Mayor,” his predecessor said as he put his hand out. Kevin reached out and shook his hand.

“Mr. Mayor,” Kevin said.

“Follow me,” Drew said. He led Kevin down the hall toward the elevator. As the two of them walked, Drew explained what each office was and who worked in it. Drew introduced Kevin to each person in that office. Kevin was surprised that Drew knew everybody’s name.

Just as they came to the elevator, Drew stopped and introduced Kevin to one of the janitors.

“This is Hector. He is here from Puerto Rico. He and his family moved here ten years ago.” Then he turned to Hector and said something in Spanish.

After a few words with Hector, the two stepped into the elevator. As the elevator lifted toward the third floor, Kevin asked, “What were you saying to Hector?”

“I was asking him about his daughter, Maria. She has cancer.”

“How do you keep track of everybody?” Kevin asked, amazed at the previous mayor.

“I take the time,” Drew said. “And I get out of the office. At least, half of my day. It’s my job.”

“I thought your job was getting things done.”

“There’s only so much you can do. You get a lot more done if you get to know the people you’re doing the things for. Do you really want what they want?”


“Oh, I see. You think staying in the office? Studying budgets? Meeting with bigwigs? That’s my job? No, no, no. My job is serving the people, not the bureaucracy and the money. That’s why you beat me. Because I forgot that.”

Politics in America 1: Introducing the Great Man

News from the Outback or the Great Beyond or Uncle Bardie’s Bag of Tricks: This is my 401st post. Don’t know whether I should give myself a big pat on the back or a big Whoopee or just keep doing this. Oh well, 401 down and 7 gadzillion to go.


There have been many great political novels. This isn’t one of them. And any facsimile to the truth is purely accidental.

Chapter 1
Introducing the Great Man.

He had not always been The Great Man. “Just how did he become The Great Man?” you ask. That’s easy to answer. They asked him to run for President. The Party Elders of the Do-Naught Political Party did, that is. The P.E.s, as they were called. He was the obvious choice. He looked the part. If they had not ask him to run, some young whipper-snapper would have lost the election for The Party and it would’ve been another eight years out of power. They could not have allowed that, now could they? No, they had no choice.

When they came to The Do-Naught Party’s Convention, there had been no clear-cut nominee. Who was The Party going to give the nomination?

The Big Guy of The Do-All Party had been president for eight years. His Party was getting ready to nominate The President-in-Waiting, his Vice President, better known to One-and-All as L T, Little Twerp.

The Great Man’s Party, the DoNaughts, had to do something to prevent that little re-dunce-dancy of a Vice President from winning the election. They had been out of power almost as long as the Democrats had before the FDR sweeps in the early nineteen thirties. What to do?

When he came to the Convention, he was not The Great Man. He was not even a Dark Horse or a Dark Horse’s hinny. He certainly wasn’t one of The Grand Old Men of The Party or The Young Turks. He had only been the Mayor of Weazel Sneeze for fifteen minutes, and this was his first convention. When The P.E.s looked around and saw him, they were pleased. Very pleased. Finally they had their man. He looked like a President.

As Ronald Reagan knew, that was the most important qualification for the job. You had to look the part.

If you take a twenty dollar bill out of your wallet and looked at the face on it, it’s Old Hickory, one of the most popular presidents who ever was. That was what The Great Man looked like. Andy Jackson.

Politics In America is his story.

Chapter 2 next Wednesday.

Chester (A Dog With Issues) Endorses Donald Trump

This one is a big Wow. Uncle Bardie was on the floor, absolutely in histerics.

Almost Iowa

dogI arrived home to a pitiful scene. A panic stricken Scooter had taken refuge on the roof of his doghouse.

Below him, a furry tempest raged. 

It attacked his dog dish, instantly shredding it into a scattering of twisted metal shavings – then it peeled chunks of plywood off his house and reduced them to sawdust. Finally, as I watched in amazement, it ripped shingles from under Scooter’s paws as he danced madly about in despair.

I called my buddy Stan.

What did you toss into Scooter’s kennel?” I shouted into the phone.

Are we talking about Chester?”

Chester is Stan’t psychotic dog.

“Yes… why is he here?”

“Daphne and I are on vacation and you have DirectTV.”

It made perfect Stan-sense.

Chester may be profoundly disturbed but there is one thing that keeps him emotionally stable – subscription television.  Specifically, the dog loves the Home Shopping Network.

So to rescue Scooter, I rushed into the house and cranked…

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Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Great TV

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The West Wing” (1999-2006).

I’ve been watching “The West Wing”, a series written and produced by Aaron Sorkin. It ran for seven seasons in the early two-oughts. It gave Americans a real behind the scenes look at what it is like to work for a President of the United States. Though the President in the series was a Democrat, he could just as easily have been a Republican.

It is not easy working for a President of the United States in the West Wing of the White House. As long as the staffers are on the job, they get little sleep. Sometimes they will work as long as forty-eight hours, then go home only to have to come back to the White House in four hours because there is a crisis in a part of the world they can’t even pronounce. And often they are not appreciated for the valuable work they do.

The series dealt with terrorism, assassination, kidnapping of the President’s daughter and so many other problems the modern Presidency might have to deal with. We complain when a President takes two weeks off in the summer and goes on vacation. The truth of the matter, as we see in “The West Wing”, is that Presidents doesn’t get a vacation even when they are on vacation.

All this has led me to give some thought about politics and politicians. The Founding Fathers were politicians. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were politicians. Often on different sides of an issue. Yet, through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, they hammered out the Declaration of Independence. With more blood, sweat and tears, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay and a bunch of other folks in the room gave us one of the greatest documents in human history. The Constitution of the United States. All were politicians. Pretty damned good ones too.

Abraham Lincoln was not only a politician. Even worse, he was a lawyer. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were politicians. Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower were politicians. In previous lives, Truman had been a haberdasher and Eisenhower was a general. Once they ran for election, they became politicians.

Politicians have given the American people some terrific things. They gave the country the Erie Canal, the 13th Amendment (and all the other amendments), the United States Interstate Highway System, the Tennessee Valley Authority (which gave much of the South electricity) and the G I Bill. It took the vision of a politician to think the United States could put a man on the moon. It took political vision to believe that we could bring down the Berlin Wall and re-unite the Germans.

Yet we hate our politicians. We hate politicians so much we are willing to elect the supposedly non-politicians Donald Trump (a real estate developer), Ben Carson (a neurosurgeon) and Carly Fiorina (a former CEO of a computer company). Could it be that we expect them to wave their magic CEO wands and make wonderful things happen? Because these folks are telling us that they’re not politicians.

Bull double hockey sticks. When a person steps into the political arena and asks for votes, he or she is a politician. And it will take a truckload of political ability to move heaven and earth to get their agenda considered, much less done.

The moment one of them becomes president, they are going to be hit with a ton of bricks. And it’s going to hurt. Bad. All of them, including Donald Trump, will be given a cup of humility. They had better drink the hemlock or they won’t get a darn thing done. As Abraham Lincoln and our Founding Fathers knew.

The first thing they are going to learn is that the President of the United States is not a CEO. The Prez can’t just order things to be done and expect them to get done the way a CEO can. He can’t even order his cabinet to do what he wills them to do. God help him or her if they think they are going to get Congress to do their bidding. If they even try, they will get pie in the face, then handed their head to them on a platter.