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, 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


 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


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 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."

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Photo Shoot for Sally Rand American Sex Symbol in Chicago

 She danced at the Chicago Theatre in 1933. That is where the Tribune wanted to have the photo shoot so I went down to the city after not being there for eight months. It was a strangely beautiful November day. We had a spate of warm weather for the week and the morning was warm, sunny, and felt like spring. The police were in the streets and the stores were boarded up including the Chicago Theatre. The usual crowds were gone leaving some street people, security guards, the police and one author waiting for the lights to get set up outside the theatre.

And then we started shooting.  The photographer wanted me to think about Sally Rand. She could have related to 2020. She crashed the Worlds Fair during the worst year of the Great Depression. She had been in Hollywood where her career disintegrated then ended up sleeping in alleys in Chicago before a tryout at  the Paramount Club gave her an idea to use seven foot ostrich feathers to hide her nudity. It worked and she got the job and then set her sites on the Worlds Fair. 

Sally Rand tried out but the fair wasn't interested. So she got a boat, a horse, covered her body in white makeup and then took the boat to Northerly island on the opening night and galloped into the celebration which was for only the money set of Chicago. The horse reared up and Sally Rand was arrested and then became famous for forty years. And so that was what I thought about while the photographer snapped away. It was a desperate move during desperate times. In the year 2020, we can relate.  Sally Rand American Sex Symbol

Books by William Hazelgrove