Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The FBI was as close to Leonard Bernstein as his nearest telephone
August 11, 2009 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Alex Ross examines the 800-page FBI file of Leonard Bernstein. (single page print link.)
posted by NemesisVex (30 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
“I know that Bernstein is a card-carrying Communist but I have no proof of it but I can tell by the way he talks.”

I call my next peice "Nothing Ever Changes" and it consists of 4 hours of me banging random keys and wailing. There is no intermission.
posted by The Whelk at 6:12 AM on August 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


Wait, I thought Bernstein was a music dude? Why would...huh? *checks Wikipedia, reads first pages of article*

MetaTalk post questioning the editorial use of "800" and "FBI" in 5...4...3...
posted by DU at 6:27 AM on August 11, 2009


Actually, I grabbed that 800 figure from a headline on ArtsJournal. When I posted I realized the article didn't mention anything about 800 pages. So, yes, I was quick on the post button there.
posted by NemesisVex at 6:30 AM on August 11, 2009


Heh...I love the letter from the nun requesting more information on Bernstein. Do you think that if I sent a letter to Robert Mueller telling him that I heard on Metafilter that Cheney was a fascist and asking for more information, he would send me back any pamphlets?
posted by nosila at 6:36 AM on August 11, 2009


"Watkins! What are you doing with your salary over there?"

"I'm throwing it down this bottomless hole, sir!"

"Does it make me look tough on communism?"

"Yes sir!"

"Carry on, then!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 AM on August 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


Heythere now Devils', That's AMERICA'S bottomless hole, and you'd better remember and respect it.
posted by The Whelk at 6:45 AM on August 11, 2009


They show the Nixon Administration’s initial response to the peculiar threat posed by “Mass”—that multimedia, polystylistic spectacle in which Leonard Bernstein dramatized his struggle with God and fame.

I'm utterly shocked that Nixon would be paranoid that a gay, Jewish, New York conductor would embarrass him in the shrine to Nixon's former enemy, Kennedy.
posted by geoff. at 6:50 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Part 2, Bernstein and Nixon's Plumbers.
posted by Kattullus at 6:51 AM on August 11, 2009


A while back I saw a satire of the UK anti-terrorism billboards that basically said "While we're fapping around with a million meaningless reports of nothing, terrorists are busy making plans."

So, if we didn't have our various intelligence and law enforcement agencies looking out for communist musicals, what do you think might have been accomplished? Catching on to an army sneaking into Saigon? Stopping some guys from flying airplanes into buildings?

The mind boggles.

On preview, Devils Rancher and The Whelk, when do you want to get together for some serious drinking?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:53 AM on August 11, 2009


So, yes, I was quick on the post button there.
From the phrasing, I thought your "single page print link" might be to the dossier, which would've been a bit of an ask for this browser.
posted by Abiezer at 7:03 AM on August 11, 2009


On preview, Devils Rancher and The Whelk, when do you want to get together for some serious drinking?

Is there gas in the car?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 AM on August 11, 2009


I tend bar on the Astral Plane every Robot Party Week.
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robots don't have astral bodies.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's why it's empty, duh.
posted by The Whelk at 7:34 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


"subversive messages—in Latin"

G-man: What's this, then? "Yanqs eunt domus"? People called Yankees, they go, the house?
Bernstein: It says, "Yankees go home. "
G-man: No it doesn't ! What's the latin for "Yankee"? Come on, come on !
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The whole bit about advisers warning the White House away from Bernstein premieres reminds me of the disaster of Britten's Gloriana. Commissioned for the coronation of Elizabeth II, Britten's opera presented a flawed Queen Elizabeth I in a troubled relationship with a treasonous lover. The newly-crowned queen was apparently not amused by a critical dramatic interpretation of her namesake, and the performance was a critical and political flop for Britten, who in the grand tradition of classical failures, recycled it as a symphonic suite.

But CREEP's paranoia that Nixon might give polite applause to liberal ideas expressed in Latin at the unfortunate occasion of the dedication of his archenemy's memorial makes me giggle.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:52 AM on August 11, 2009


Amazing to read the Cold War obsession with Communism. Corporatism has certainly created plenty of major global messes. Imagine if the FBI had put its focus on corporate or political corruption.

Bernstein isn't the only one with an FBI file.
posted by nickyskye at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2009


But CREEP's paranoia that Nixon might give polite applause to liberal ideas expressed in Latin at the unfortunate occasion of the dedication of his archenemy's memorial makes me giggle.

Clearly, Nixon's necromancers were trying to prevent the invocation of a commie spell (in LATIN) by Bernstein. They countered it, of course, by raising a Dire Cheney to eat the heart of the last bald eagle and defilie the grave of Chief Seattle so that the spell would fail and "Tecumseh's curse" would lift, allowing the entity living inside the body of Ronald Regan to rule without fear.

I mean, it's so obvious when you think about it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, how I long for the days when the arts were taken seriously enough to be considered a threat to national security!

*weeps quietly*
posted by rtha at 8:29 AM on August 11, 2009



Oh, how I long for the days when the arts were taken seriously enough to be considered a threat to national security!

*weeps quietly*


Your wish answered


*weeps quietly*
posted by lalochezia at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2009


Clearly, Nixon's necromancers were trying to prevent the invocation of a commie spell (in LATIN) by Bernstein. They countered it, of course, by raising a Dire Cheney to eat the heart of the last bald eagle and defilie the grave of Chief Seattle so that the spell would fail and "Tecumseh's curse" would lift, allowing the entity living inside the body of Ronald Regan to rule without fear.
Hey, careful, you're cutting in on Charles Stross territory now.
posted by verb at 9:02 AM on August 11, 2009


Your wish answered

*bangs head on desk*

I gotta remember that "careful what you wish for" thing. Fuck.
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on August 11, 2009


posted by rtha Oh, how I long for the days when the arts were taken seriously enough to be considered a threat to national security! *weeps quietly*

Trust me, art still is.
posted by mattdidthat at 9:22 AM on August 11, 2009


Maybe I didn't read the two articles closely enough, but I didn't see anything in there about Bernstein's homosexual relationships. Surely the FBI knew about those too and would have documented them as evidence of his unamericanism?
posted by Nelson at 9:26 AM on August 11, 2009


Have you ever gotten to use your fauxtography license, mattdidthat?
posted by Kattullus at 9:31 AM on August 11, 2009


I wonder how many people know the name solely as the one lyric in It's The End Of The World As We Know It that they can easily discern.
posted by Spatch at 9:51 AM on August 11, 2009


I dunno Spatch, but since this was by Alex Ross I figured there would be some kick ass artwork. Not so much.

G-Man circa 1950s: Sir! We think Joe Gallo is looking to takeover the Profaci crime family in New York which could start a war that could kill a lot of...

Hoover: Wait, wait...

G-Man: ...lot of people could be killed here, they've got loads of guns! And we know Profaci is unpopular and Gallo's brothers Larry and Albert could...

Hoover: No, no, no. Stop. The FBI is interested more in communists these days.

G-Man: Uh, ok. Oh! Yes sir! One of our Colonels stationed in East Berlin was contacted by a Soviet Air Force officer who wanted him to reveal secrets and..

Hoover: No, no, *adjusts bra*

G-Man: there's a Col. Maskim Grigorlevich Martynov who's a member of the Soviet delegation to the U.N. who we think wants nuclear weapon secrets to..

Hoover: No, no, look, there's this conductor who...

G-Man: A senior Warrant Officer appointment in the Royal Logistic Corps? Because in the UK, in Cambridge sorta, there's...

Hoover: No, a musical conductor, who might be a homosexual.

G-Man; *suddenly finds fingernails interesting* A homosexual sir?

Hoover: Yes. And we want to know if he's red, ok? Leonard Bernstein.

G-Man: The New York Philharmonic conductor.

Hoover: Yes.

G-Man:*long pause* Is he engaging in sabotage or something sir?

Hoover: No, but we think he's red. And we need to know, dammit!

G-Man: Uh, well, he's just a musician isn't he? I mean we're looking at this Donald Duart Maclean guy who's the Secretary of the Combined Policy Committee on Atomic Development and we think he's telling the Russkis how much uranium we have access to...

Hoover: No, no! Berstein has been promoting the work of Charles Ives.

G-Man: Sir, uh, this Maclean guy, Kim Philby, four or five other Cambridge people from the UK, we're pretty sure are giving the Soviets atomic secr...

Hoover: No, no! It's Ives! My God man! Ives! We can't allow polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, and aleatoric elements to sap and impurify our precious melodic traditions!

G-Man: Uh...*backs out of office slowly* I'll put some men right on it ...uh, sir.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Fuck you Smedleyman for being funnier than me and combing Dr. Strangelove.
posted by The Whelk at 5:34 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, careful, you're cutting in on Charles Stross territory now.

No, that would require painfully bad sex scenes with superglue and topical anesthetics as a metaphor for intellectual property politics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2009


No, that would require painfully bad sex scenes with superglue and topical anesthetics as a metaphor for intellectual property politics.
I think you're thinking of Cory Doctorow, now.
posted by verb at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older "Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave i...  |  Aging Chrome: Cyberpunks in 20... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments