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May 05, 1971 - Image 13

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1971-05-05

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Wednesday, May 5, 1971

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Thirteen

...American Dream Machine

scouting the last American
frontier.
In a Lockheed Electra we
scaled Mount McKinley, the
highest one on the American
continent. Bright, sunny day,
and the most beautiful sight I
ever saw.

refers to Rogers as the "kind-
ly debunker" - the man who
managed to merge himself with
the dream as both the devotee
and the debunker. He was, in
this sense, the inside-outsider:.
the friend of Presidents and ho-
boes alike. If the victims of the
Depression could be made to
laugh at their tragic state of af-
fairs, there was little danger
that the real culprit -- the
greed-oriented capitalistic sys-
tem - would be toppled. It is
after all, as Freud has well
substantiated, through wit and
humor that we can most easily
evade the demands of our con-
science.
Today, however, for increas-
ing numbers the horror of the
Nightmare is displacing al l
thought of the Dream. If Will
Rogers helped us laugh through
the Depression, no one (not
ever Bob Hope with his jokes
about potheads) can make us
laugh through the Viet Na m
war.
Somehow the Dream has
slipped away and all its on ce
rich humor has been replaced
by a tarnished bronze statue.
It is not so much an eerie obit-
uary as a sad commentary upon
our times when Brown reporte
the following regarding Rogers'
remains :
Apparently he left little in
the way of private letters or
diaries in which he expressed
his own private thoughts, and
meet of. his known attitudes
and beliefs are framed in his
public utterance - in which
the desire to adjust his ideas

to people must necessarily be
considered a kind of refract-
ing variable.
The scaffolding is self-sup-
porting - the public image be-
comes the man. It is not sur-
prising to learn that in 1928,
with his popularity on the rise,
Will Rogers toyed gamefully
with running for President.
Fortunately, he resisted the
temptation.
Still, the die had been cast.
By 1969, Nixon (who had learn-

ed well the necessity of remov-
ing his five o'clock' shadow)
could parody the following in
his inaugural address: "T h e
American Dream does not come
to those who fall asleep." But
by 1969 he need not have wor-
ried. The Dream, or at least
that haunting skeletal figure
that remains as a political eu-
phemism for the rewards to be
gained by playing the rules,
cannot be destroyed - not even
with bullets. Bernadine Dohrn,

James Johnson, and others,
have tried. But much more dis-
heartening is our gnawing
suspicion that Just as the
scaffolding cannot be destroyed,
neither can the underlying
Dream be regained. President
Kennedy, the students at Kent,
and Martin Luther King have
tried that, too.
If, at this late hour, the eagle
is to be resuscitated, he must
be given new plumage. And
that is not a joking matter.

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Brown, then, finishes the re-
port.
Even, perhaps, as some
reader went over the message,
the red monoplane's engine
stalled, the craft went out of
control, and the two quest-
ers plunged into shallow wat-
er from which they had taken
off. Then there was silence,
except for the wavelets lap-
ping against the hull of the
airplane and for shouts of
an Eskimo who had seen the
crash.
The eagle had landed, but
somehow his unruffled plum-
age remained intact. Recorded
on tapes and transcribed by
newspapers, the voice continues
today to utter its platitudes
(much of the sting removed by
the passage of time) long after
the heart has stopped. In Wash-
ington, where tourists are gath-
ered (undaunted by round-ups
of war protesters), a busload will
stop by a bronze statue of Will
Rogers. There a tour guide will
describe in patriotic terms the
good luck to be had by rubbing
the shiny toes of Will Rogers'
shoes. A few, perhaps laughing
self-consciously, will step for-
ward to test the magic.
As long as Rogers could keep
the folks laughing, there was
no threat to the system. Brown
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ii

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WGS-8121 Rimsky-
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WGS-8123 Beethoven: 5th
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WGS-8124 A Charm of
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WGS-8125 Tchaikovsky: 1812
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Korsakoff: Capriccio
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WGS-8126 Holst: The Planets
WGS-8127 Berlioz: Romeo
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WGS-8128 Masterpieces of
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WGS-8129 Provocative
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WGS-8130 Wagner: Der Ring
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WGS-8131 Ravel: Bolero/
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Dukas: Sorcerer's
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WGS-8132 Vivaldi: Gloria
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WGS-8134 Haydn: Military
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WGS-8136 The Best of the
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WGS-8139 Ketelbey: In a
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WGS-8140 Best of Mozart
WGS-8141 Pedro Lavirgen
Sings Spanish Favorites
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WGS-8144 Gregorian Chants
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WGS-8145 Virgil Fox Plays
the John Wanamaker
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