Danny and Me

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu7/10/15
One day, during the early 1980’s I was booked on a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas.  After checking in, I walked to my departure gate and waited for my plane to arrive. Since I had arrived early and there was going to be some time before takeoff, I bought the “Los Angeles Times” newspaper.

I sat down and started reading through the newspaper. Starting from the back of the paper, I finished one section after another, placing each section I had finished on a side-table next to my chair. I was half-way through paper when a man walked up to me and asked would I mind if he read the parts which I had finished. As I looked up to tell him he could, I gazed into the face of Danny Thomas.

He picked up the paper and started to read. In a moment, he started talking to me and this developed into friendly chit-chat. As we spoke, it came out that I had been living in Asia for a number of years.  Upon hearing this Mr. Thomas perked up and asked me various questions about Asia and my experience there.  I was pretty positive about Asia’s economic growth and future and how this might affect the USA negatively.  Mr. Thomas responded by saying something to the effect that he was a JFK man and, like JFK, believed in the economic union of North and South America.

The moment Mr. Thomas said this, something came over me, and I didn’t want to continue our conversation. I am not completely sure why I had such a strong reaction, but a couple of points probably contributed to it. First, I wondered if he was trying to impress me with his liberalism. I have found older people will often do this to in order to establish a faux point of commonality with younger people who they are just meeting.   Second, even in my late twenties, I was not a fan of JFK. To my mind, he was/is not the great president many claim him to be.

Anyway, in order to be rid of Mr. Thomas as politely as possible, I started to speak about things which I was pretty sure would not interest him. I pushed my earlier points about the rise of Asia and to cap it off, I mentioned that I probably agreed with Otto Spengler who wrote “The Decline of the West”.  Once I mentioned that, Mr. Thomas looked at me as if to say, “What is this kid talking about?” In a few moments, he thanked me for the paper and told me it had been good talking to me. He moved away and I went back to reading my newspaper.

When I look back on this episode, I regret, somewhat, that I didn’t take the opportunity to spend more time with Mr. Thomas. He was a very nice, easy-going man. There were absolutely no “airs” about him. We were just two strangers passing the time having a pleasant conversation at the airport.

Perhaps I should have just listened, instead of trying to shoo him away with esoterica.  Perhaps….but I still don’t want to hear about JFK and how great he was. • (1377 views)

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16 Responses to Danny and Me

  1. Steve Lancaster says:

    Today, you will need to be in grad school for anyone to even have a idea of who Spengler was. Like Clausewitz, he is quoted but never read, which is unfortunate as Spengler’s philosophy is not as doom and gloom as the title of the book.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


      By chance, I read most of “Gundgedanken ueber Krieg und Kriegfuehrung” by Clausewitz last year. I don’t know the English title, but the literal translation would be “Basic Thoughts over War and War Direction” it would probably be translated as something like, “Principles of War and Conducting of War”. It is mainly a book of aphorisms taken from his book “On War”. The first chapter reads, “Essence and Goal of War” (Wesen und Ziel des Kriegs). The first aphorism reads, “War is nothing but the continuation of State politics with other means.” (Der Krieg is nichts als die fortgesetzte Staatpolitik mit andern Mitteln.)

      • Timothy Lane says:

        That’s usually translated as “War is the continuation of policy by other means” (or sometimes “politics” instead of “policy”). Of course, with liberals, it’s sort of reversed — politics is a form of war (against the opposition) by other means.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I know the usual translation but don’t like it. It leaves out two important thoughts, “nichts als” is nothing but or nothing other than, and “Staatpolitik” is State politics or policy which means it is the policy or politics of autonomous political entities.

          In translations, I tend to be literal even if the translation may not sound as nice. Some German phrases do not lend themselves to flowing English and vice versa. I am interested in what the author wrote, if I can get to it. Maybe that’s why I like footnotes.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, to be fair, when you compare JFK to all his Democratic successors (LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Obama), he starts looking pretty good.

    I have a copy of Spengler’s Decline of the West, though I haven’t read it. I will note that James Blish used Spengler’s ideas in his Cities in Flight series, which is how I first heard of Spengler.

  3. Anniel says:

    What is there to say about JFK except that the myth is greater than the reality. But lots of women would gladly have changed places with Jackie, and it sounds like a lot did.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I understand the attraction of celebrities.

      Last night I read the free Kindle edition of Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra. Apparently this guy was Frank’s valet/personal assistant/gopher for 15 years. This is a kiss-and-tell book all the way. And as with all such books, you have no idea if you can trust it one way or the other.

      But suffice it so say, apparently Frank lived in the fast line in regards to “broads.” Lots of them. I was worn out from the drama just from the few pages of the free sample. I couldn’t live like that…broads or no broads. And for this generally old-fashioned guy to marry the libtard (and new-age goofball) Mia Farrow? Oh, that was a big mistake.

      I never supposed Frank to be an angel. And there’s no way I’m purchasing this book. It’s just too scuzzy. It’s the kind you need to take a shower after reading. But one thing about celebrities, it’s probably best to know them from afar, to bask in the glow of their well-crafted image — which is often based upon world-class talent, of course, as it was with Frank.

      And I’m guessing Danny Thomas was a really nice guy. But through the years, you just resign yourself to the fact that the celebrities travel in a different galaxy, and never the twain shall meet. But if you do look behind the curtain, be prepared for a shock. I had to laugh-out-loud at the naiveté of this one reviewer at Amazon who garnered some information from this book about one of his heroes that was a little upsetting:

      I expected this book to touch on just the superficial, but it really delved into a part of our history. Like millions of baby boomers, I idolized John F. Kennedy. Yes – I knew that he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, but I didn’t know about the barrage of call girls and cocaine. When JFK was campaigning, he asked George [the author of this book…Sinatra’s gopher], “What do colored people want?” Diplomatically, George responded that he didn’t know and asked Jack what he wanted (for our country). JFK, with a big leering grin, responded,” I want to f*ck every woman in Hollywood.” Statements like this just amazed me.

      JFK was a sleezebag, coming and going. Yes, he fought gallantly for our country, and no one can take that away from him. But he caught a bullet that could have, in some ways, been a break for Jackie.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But one thing about celebrities, it’s probably best to know them from afar

        I think this also applies to real artists. In the end one must look at the product and not the producer. I think it is the case that, more often than not, people who give so much of themselves to their work can become extreme egotists. Even if they don’t they can become monomaniacs and lose sight of others.

        JFK was a sleezebag, coming and going

        Years ago I read somewhere a story of three up-and-coming young men in Washingtion D.C. It took place in the 1950’s. They were talking in some famous watering hole in the city going on about policy and the like. A beautiful woman/women (I can’t recall) came by and sat with them. At the end of the story, the one man left with the beautiful woman/women and the other two stayed talking into the wee hours. The man who left was JFK. The two who stayed were Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon.

        As a side note, I worked for someone who was close to a high ranking foreign service official who had worked with both Nixon and Kennedy. This official told my boss that Nixon was a much nicer and warmer person than Kennedy. In fact he said Kennedy could be quite nasty. So much for TV and newspaper propaganda.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And yet the 1960 exit polls had Nixon narrowly winning the female vote and Kennedy narrowly winning the male vote. Go figure.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The problem was they forgot to poll the cemetery vote.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Yes, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Nixon actually won the election….if it hadn’t been for illegal ballot stuffing in various Illinois or Chicago districts.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Illinois wasn’t enough, but there was also vote fraud in Lyndon’s Texas, and those two together would have sufficed. Sam Giancana certainly felt that he elected Kennedy and deserved better treatment as a reward. (He didn’t get it, Bobby Kennedy being a strong anti-crime AG at the time, just as he had previously been a strong Joe McCarthy supporter).

  4. SkepticalCynic SkepticalCynic says:

    Being from Nawuth Cair-o-linuh I have always been somewhat po-uh. A lot of money does bad things to normally good people.


    Interesting incident, KFZ. Danny Thomas was probably a nice guy but not, from what I have heard, a great intellect. JFK was certainly not a great President, being politically what would now place him in the Republican Establishment – today’s Democratic Left would never abide him. About the best that can be said of him is that he was better than the Democrats who came later.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Danny Thomas was probably a nice guy but not, from what I have heard, a great intellect

      Of course, I only spoke to him briefly, but I had the same feeling. In fact, I believe I registered this when he started talking to me about Western Hemisphere cooperation. It is hard to describe, but when he approached this it was a little like a Dutch Uncle who was trying to impress his young nephew. And if anyone knew about international trade at that time, South America was not the up-and-coming place. In fact, as I recall, a large part of the reason the US started developing a large trade deficit was due to the drop off of exports to South America.

      Perhaps I was wrong about the Dutch Uncle bit, it may have just been his way of talking. But when JFK was brought into the discussion I had to bail. I was and still am fairly opinionated and didn’t want to get into a disagreement with Mr. Thomas who had been very decent to me.

      I must also say, I have always thought what he did with St. Jude’s Hospital to be wonderful. That place has done a tremendous amount of good from what I understand. Especially with childhood leukemia.

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