Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Report

Heartland Heartland by Mort Sahl

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Weird how somebody who wrote jokes for JFK and got blacklisted for helping Jim Garrison scrutinize the Warren Report also supported Alexander Haig's bid for the Presidency. He made fun or Reagan, yet was considered a friend of the Reagans.

Sahl's always been a hero of mine and I just about wore out my parent's copy of his album recorded live at the Hungry i. His book is showing me just how complex and multifaceted he really is.

Mort Sahl was better than Lenny Bruce, because he didn't just want to shock people to become famous. He wanted to challenge people to think about what they believe and why they believe it and he wanted to expose corruption and hypocrisy and have fun doing it. There wouldn't be a Jon Stewart, Steven Corbet, Bill Mahr or SNL Weekend Update if there hadn't been a Mort Sahl. Heck, there might not have been a Smothers Brothers or a George Carlin if there hadn't been a Mort Sahl. Come to think of it, Lenny Bruce, Shelly Berman, a Bill Cosby or Bob Newhart either. He pioneered comedy albums and college shows. He had a late night talk show and radio call-in shows (you owe him too, Al Frankin and Stephanie Miller). He acted, wrote, and produced movies and TV- yet hardly anyone remembers him.

First he endangered his career by being just as critical of JFK as he had been of Ike- then he REALLY endangered his career by working with New Orleans DA Jim Garrison to try to get to the bottom of the JFK assassination. I don't know how many conspiracy theories are out there or how much I agree with Oliver Stone's Kevin Costner movie, JFK- but I do agree with Sahl that we should demand scrutiny and accountability of those who profit from the military. Howard Hunt was CIA connected to Oswald, Ruby and Clay Shaw... and guess what? Howard Hunt was involved in Watergate. Maybe not a conspiracy, but a scary correlation- what with bogus intel, torture and wire tapping in the news again under Bush, maybe it's high time that America gave Mort Sahl another chance.

"This matter of two sides to every question is bad logic and bad practice: sometimes there are no sides; sometimes there are a hundred." ~Mort Sahl

"One reason to keep going is that the country was given to us as a sacred charge. It is, as Stephen Vincent Benet says in 'the Devil and Daniel Webster,' not the only place that created free man- but... Read More its a place that demands that we decide what to do with out freedom. You can only punish yourself, That's the existential view. I don't think there's any reward beyond participating, beyond being here. And the antithesis of reward is punishment, and the only punishment that can come is self-inflicted. I remain optimistic. Whether or not the optimism is justified, I don't know. I want to stay around for the third act." ~Mort Sahl

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