Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Race To Save The Titanic....They All Could Have Been Saved

 It is an audacious thing to say that the fifteen hundred and twenty one people who froze in the icy twenty degree water of the North Atlantic could have been saved. But it is true. Sadly. The mythology of the Titanic would have us believe their fate was preordained. Nay the legend demands it now. Men gallantly sending off their wives and children and going down with the ship with the band playing, a final cigar, a final dash of brandy. It is all very WASPISH and assumes their fate was sealed by the isolation of Titanic in the middle of the Atlantic on April 14 1912. But there is another story and it is not heroic.

The truth is everyone could have been saved if it not were for human failing. The First Class passengers paddled away and waited for their rescue and watched their husbands and third class passengers go down with the ship. This is what is handed to us by history. But in actuality many of the lifeboats were busy rowing toward a light they could see very clearly. They were told by Captain Smith himself to go toward the light and that the ship would pick them up. So they did but they never reached the ship that refused to come closer. This was the California that was a mere ten miles away with her officers watching the Titanic sink in front of them while shooting off rockets. Rockets that her Captain  would deny were for distress and would go to his grave denying the ship that sank was the Titanic. 

And yet the tragedy grows. On the far side of the icefield the Titanic was being observed by passengers aboard the Mt Temples. They had been forbidden to go up on deck but many snuck up only to see a ship with lights blazing, shooting off rockets, sliding into the flat calm of the Atlantic. The Mt Temple would come no closer and later her crew would consider mutinying against the captain for turning back when they were less than five miles away. Many newspaper articles would follow with Captain Moore explaining he could not risk the ship by entering the icefield.

The real story of human failing has been plastered over by the heroic ideal that was immediately offered up to lessen the blow of the great tragedy. But the real story has yet to be told...until now. 

One Hundred and Sixty Minutes The Race To Save The Titanic






Sunday, May 23, 2021

America is Still Alive in New York

Maybe its biking around Manhattan that it hits you. Or when you walk into St Patrick's Cathedral in the middle of a mass and see that cavernous church that does remind you of the kingdom of heaven. Or Times Square where everyone is there in a mixed up homogenous loud mass of people including a naked cowboy. Or in Central Park where the kids are being entertained by singers and dancers and the parents are running around trying to corral their children in the most heterogeneous multculti stew of people you will ever see. Or when you go to the Plaza Hotel and see the fountain where Zelda Fitzgerald jumped in or the ornate lobby and the rooms where F. Scott Fitzgerald put the climax of Gatsby or seeing Freedom Tower or Grand Central Station...but it hits you somewhere in the middle of it...oh yes, this is America.

There is no room for divisions. Everyone is too busy. Even with the protests going on against the war in the Mideast or Black Lives Matter. People just take it in stride. And the people are not exceedingly beautiful or ugly or old or young or highly educated or ignorant because no on can dominate. No one gets old and the young are everywhere taking it all on. It was hot the weekend I was there as I was weaving in out and of cars on my rented bike and the smell of old buildings, urine, hot sidewalks, homeless people, the hotdogs stands, the vendors selling gyros, and the strange chicken on a stick, it all blends together and it is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. 

And then you are at a black tie dinner with the one percenters accepting an award and you would think these people must dominate NY with their money, degrees, sheer power, but its not true. You know that when you see the blue green of the Statue of Liberty in the distance from Battery Park and you imagine all those people who saw that statue for the first time and you know then... no one dominates New York except the people. Black, brown, Asian, white, Indian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu...it is all there and when you are finally finished and head for airport you take a final glance back and wonder if you did see it all and then you know the answer, of course you didn't...


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tearing Down the Mythology of Titanic April 14 1912: An Excerpt from One Hundred and Sixty Minutes The Race To Rescue the RMS Titanic

 One hundred and nine years ago the Titanic sunk taking over 1500 souls with her and it seems fitting to finally melt down the mythology that grew up around the doomed liner. The mythology was created to make these senseless deaths somehow more palatable to the world of 1912. It goes like this. The band played Nearer my God to Thee while the WASPY inheritors of male privilege, nay the titans of their time, the Guggenheims, the Vanderbilt's, gloriously threw down the gauntlet for all that was good and decent in the world of  White Male Privilege and saw off their wives' and daughters in lifeboats before having a final cigar, a dash of brandy, dressed in their finest like gentlemen, and when the icy Atlantic came for its due they shook hands all around and stepped off the last good ship of the Gilded Age and plunged to their icy fate to be forever memorialized in song, books, film, and then stapled to the cultural moniker of all that was decent in the good old Edwardian World. 

The real story on board Titanic is one of  straight up survival and a race to rescue people stuck on a giant ship that would sink in less than three hours. It is more of an Ayn Rand novel than E.M. Forester where people acted out of primitive naked primal impulse to survive than the Gilded patina of heroic Episcopal men who suddenly grew a conscience after exploiting millions during the post Civil War Industrialization of America. Just ask the third class passengers conspicuously absent from those rescued in the lifeboats. And the real story has a shocking epilogue and it is this: Everyone could have been rescued if human will had not failed. I will say it again. Everyone could have been rescued if it were not for human failing. And that is the real story of the Titanic. 



One Hundred and Sixty Minutes The Race to Save the RMS Titanic


Friday, February 26, 2021

One Hundred and Sixty Minutes The Race to Save the Titanic

 


One hundred and sixty minutes. That is all the time rescuers would have before the largest ship in the world slipped beneath the icy Atlantic. There was amazing heroism and astounding incompetence against the backdrop of the most advanced ship in history sinking by inches with luminaries from all over the world. It is a story of a network of wireless operators on land and sea who desperately sent messages back and forth across the dark frozen North Atlantic to mount a rescue mission. More than twenty-eight ships would be involved in the rescue of Titanic survivors along with four different countries.

At the heart of the rescue are two young Marconi operators, Jack Phillips 25 and Harold Bride 22, tapping furiously and sending electromagnetic waves into the black night as the room they sat in slanted toward the icy depths and not stopping until the bone numbing water was around their ankles. Then they plunged into the water after coordinating the largest rescue operation the maritime world had ever seen and thereby saving 710 people by their efforts.

The race to save the largest ship in the world from certain death would reveal both heroes and villains. It would begin at 11:40 PM on March 14, when the iceberg was struck and would end at 2:20 AM March 15, when her lights blinked out and left 1500 people thrashing in 25-degree water. Although the race to save Titanic survivors would stretch on beyond this, most people in the water would die, but the amazing thing is that of the 2229 people, 710 did not and this was the success of the Titanic rescue effort.


Order One Hundred and Sixty Minutes



Thursday, November 19, 2020

WGN CHICAGO RADIO INTERVIEW JOHN LANDECKER ON SALLY RAND

 Had a great interview with John Landecker on Sally Rand and her incredible ride into the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1933. Enjoy! WGN Interview on Sally Rand


ORDER SALLY RAND




Friday, November 13, 2020

For Immediate Release: Sally Rand Rides Again in New Book...The Girl Who Crashed the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair

 Sally Rand ran away from the Ozarks with the circus and then became a silent movie star under Cecil B. Demille but ended up in Chicago sleeping in alleys during the worst year of the Great Depression. She had one shot to save herself and she took it, crashing the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair on a white horse with only some white makeup on her body. She was arrested and then immediately hired and became famous for forty years, singlehandedly making the Worlds Fair profitable and herself rich. 

In the new book, Sally Rand American Sex Symbol Bestselling author William Hazelgrove holds up Sally Rands seven minute fan dance as a symbol of hope. "It wasn't just sex, people could go in to a darkened theatre for seven minutes and watch a woman with seven pound ostrich feather dance naked to classical music under a blue light...it was escapism and more than that, hope." Just like today, people were looking for some glimmer of hope under the avalanche of bad times. The small five foot blond with girl next door looks provided that. Sally Rand was a rags to riches story in the worst year of the depression. 

A , Chicago Tribune feature and a write up in the  Sunday Express in Britain have given the book the wings that Sally Rand used over a forty year career ending with her dancing for the Astronauts in Houston at age sixty. "She crashed the Chicago Worlds Fair but broke sexual barriers for women all over the world," Hazelgrove concludes. "Without Sally Rand there would be no Kim Kardashian or Lady Ga Ga...I think that is an amazing legacy for a hillbilly from the Ozarks."




Books by William Hazelgrove