Death to Van Gogh’s Ear – 2 (Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and Charlie Chaplin)

continuing from here 

AG: “Einstein alive was mocked for his heavenly politics.”  – (At the end of his life Einstein got worried about the atom bomb and tried to get into politics quite heavily (with) celestial notions of the dangers.  And immediately Time magazine and the wits of the newspapers of the day began mocking him for being an idiot and a fool for intruding on something he knew nothing about, although he’d invented the bomb.)

Student: True.  And the White House laid it on him, too.
AG: Yeah.
Student: They said, “You cool it or else we’ll cool you.”
AG: Hm-hmm.  Really?  What was that?
Student: Well, Truman just said, you know, he said, “Mind your own business,” in very forceful terms….
AG: Yeah.
Student: … to Einstein.

AG: “Bertrand Russell driven from New York for getting laid.” –  Does anybody know what that means?  What that refers to?  CCNY, City (College) of New York had invited the philosopher Bertrand Russell to lecture (in) 1938, maybe, or during the War, or something.  He came over with his young lady friend, and the New York Daily News and the Hearst newspapers got wind of this and said that he’s an immoral man who’s coming with his mistress on this boat from England to teach our young children in CCNY.  And, actually, it was a giant scandal, and the New York City Board of Education got into a big fight, and the Catholic Church got in on it and denounced Bertrand Russell and he was not appointed.  By the time he landed in New York there was such a scandal the Board of Education was scared to appoint him to his professorship, and you can’t imagine what an enormous blow to intellectual liberty that is. Russell was the greatest rational philosopher of the century, and here we had a chance to have him in New York, teaching, and the Catholic Church, the priests and the foggy-minded people of those days actually literally (had him) …

Student: And Russell of all people.
AG:  … driven from New York for getting laid. Well, kind of. Vulgarly put.   Yes?
Student: Russell wasn’t really a swinger, I don’t think.
AG:  No, hardly.  He was a very careful….
Student: A pretty straight guy.
AG: Well, he actually did get quite a bit of girls.  But that was his steady.


“And the “immortal Chaplin driven from our shores with the rose in his teeth,- (” that’s a reference to the end of “City Lights”, with a rose in his teeth.  He had the rose in his teeth all his life). “(D)riven from our shores” –   (do you know Chaplin’s story?  He was accused of being a Communist and an atheist, but he also kept making out with little sixteen-year-old girls, and finally, because of his political opinions, I think, before the war, maybe, or after.  I’ve forgotten…

Student: Well, when the….
AG: I’ve forgotten what time. When was Chaplin driven away?
Student: Before the war.
AG:  In the ’40s?
Student (1): Yeah.
Student (2: No.
AG: Before the war.  No, I think after.
Peter Orlovsky Forty-Eight.

AG: “Modern Times“, then, let’s see, “The Great Dictator” was still in America  – he did in America.  That was his last.  His attack on Hitler.  Probably during the war.  Just before.  During the war. And then the next thing was what? What was the next movie by Chaplin?

Peter Orlovsky:  Here in New York?

AG: “Monsieur Verdoux” probably.  And it was a bittersweet thing, half serious, half comedy.  And then he was driven out. It was about an adulterer bluebeard. A bluebeard adulterer who gets all these girls and kills them for their insurance, until he meets Martha Raye, who’s indestructible.  He can’t manage to kill her.  He tries any number of times (but) he can’t manage to kill her.  But it was about a bluebeard who during the daytime was a perfectly ordinary bourgeois fellow, like Eichmann, with his family and a double life.  So it was actually a satire on an American bluebeard politics and manners. So the IRS finally got after him. Probably J. Edgar Hoover and the IRS and everybody for being pinko, and they persecuted him, and actually were going to seize all of his assets and movies and everything and take his entire stock of art away, so he fled.  He was smarter than they, technically, as a businessman (and) fled to Switzerland (and) had all his films copywrited there.

But “driven from our shores with the rose in his teeth.” And it did interrupt his career as a filmmaker, because he had a studio, he had personnel, he had entire set-up houses, the whole machinery for producing film after film after film, which he’d developed since the ’20s.  (It) was broken up by the intervention of the government.  He had to start all over again.  New cameramen.  It was a distant cousin of mine that was one of his traditional cameramen, who then, when Chaplin left, lost his job and had to find another job.  (He) couldn’t move his family to Europe to continue working with Chaplin, so the whole structure that Chaplin had created, which was the most brilliant and beautiful diamond in Hollywood, as far as art (is concerned), was actually destroyed by the government.

So, anyway, that’s the way you do it. Or that’s the way that’s done.


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