The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 30, 1940


Site Ed. Note: We were thinking about the collapse of that bridge along I-35W over the Mississippi in Minneapolis-St. Paul the other day, August 1. We are glad there were relatively few who lost their lives.

We have to wonder about it, a little strangely, as it occurred just 15 days after we finished with that note we began three weeks ago accompanying April 27, and just a day after we added those photos from August 27, 2001 to April 29.

The piece on Mr. Satko and his trailered boat from Richmond to Tacoma, there by sea to Juneau after some trouble for a time encountered with the Seattle gendarmerie, did not of course mention the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge disaster of November, 1940. But we could not help but reference it, especially as there was no loss of human life, only that of a single dog stuck in the car on the bridge, which the pipe-stem wielding professor tried without success to rescue. In those days, folks knew how to handle Nazis, even when they gave each other a wind roundbout the keystone note on the Wagnerian Ring.

And we thought about it some in connection with its causes, ostensibly a too streamlined girder system supporting its deck, elimination of the essential for the sake of streamlining aesthetics, big in 1940, the stabilizing box trusswork below to provide the necessary rigidity in fortuitous, inevitable stress; in the case in point, caught in a fairly moderate wind of about 40 mph and twisted and turned, rolled and rocked, until, like a coat hanger in need of another utility, its tensile strength became weakened by the friction’s press, finally gave way and fell to the rushing stills of the river below.

The bridge in Minnesota, of course, had a different structure, a box-truss system, which apparently due to the road work afoot on the deck, which, while intact, had provided stabilizing strength to the trusses below, just as plywood sheathing on a house to the sticks supporting it during its construction, (just as with those thin and wieldy plastic sheets dyed as macadam, once pinned to the otherwise wobbly polyurethane girder boxes of those opulent building sets we enjoyed as a child, gave rigidity to the whole from its malleable constituent parts), gave way under the rumbling, swaying weight of the cars and trucks treading over it at rush hour. If the ties which bind are sufficiently broken, rebar by rebar, and a gap in the roof is sufficiently great, with stress on the rest, the house will collapse. Simple as that.

On October 16, 1989, we finished plying the sheer wall structure of a room addition to our house. We rushed ourselves for some reason. Next day, it shook some, but held. In the days preceding, as we worked steadily, we had been listening a lot to that new song, "The Man in the Long Black Coat".

So we were thinking about it all some in relation to these coincidences of timing: the references to Tacoma-Narrows 18 days before in our note, the death of Mrs. Johnson just before that, the falcon we saw in the cemetery nearby where we live, both occurrences in quick succession leading us to post the photos taken August 27, 2001 in Texas, the quote from Cymbeline, the reference we made to that then unstated quote in our piece to fill the microfilm's void of October 13, 1938, re the aftermath of that which occurred in New York City shortly after we took those photos in Texas, and some other things, the April 16 massacre at VPI leading us to recall a similar massacre at Austin occurring August 1, 1966, 41 years to the day before the bridge fell this week in Minneapolis, our reference in our new headnote of five days earlier to "X-ing a Paragrab", and our neologizing a little Poe’s shortened form of the city in which the two papers vied, "Nopolis", into "Shinopolis", "Three Five Zero Zero", subliminally referenced in the note accompanying April 27, or at least so discernible after the fact, though not actually consciously intended as we wrote it.

We were thinking too about the poem by Matthew Arnold, his reference to the Sea of Faith, once girding the earth, gone, said he, in 1867 as the Austro-Prussian War raged in the wake of the Civil War in this country. And St. Paul and the evidence of things not seen. And the St. Anthony Falls, the Pillsbury Mill, and Dave Clark of the Textile Bulletin, all the bits and pieces, just upstream, the "Temptation of St. Anthony" by Brueghel and Bosch, and his feast of January 17, downstream a way from that.

And the planet’s warming, threatened with a flood and ice age accelerated by the numbers to the destruction of much of life as we know it in just a few decades should this techno-fixed marriage between Man and his carbonized gaseous discards churned from Hell, especially within the United States, not quickly be dissolved and substituted by another means for the Ride, readily available with the correct impetus.

All while some poor fool worries whether we suggest in a caveat to readers that they read a poem as a whole without regard to silly analysis tearing it to its shredded constituent parts and whether that is properly cited from some source other than one’s common sense, while the fool blithely cobbles together silly analysis to replace even sillier analysis, thinking that "scholarship", while not heeding the roof which binds it all together, a poem a few lines in length.

Ah, what does it all mean? Did the bridge collapse because someone in Minneapolis read our notes and thought it portended something, and thus? Did something ominous, some grey bird, tap us on our eyes without letting us know when or where or what and impel us to write as we did because that immanence understood the collapse was imminent and while, not preventing it, perhaps somehow avoided a worse occurrence somewhere down the line? Was it independent of anything here, and is all simply the concatenation of an interesting set of circumstances and coincidences in word plays, without interconnection, merely a fault in engineering compounded by lack of foresight and caution to the whole in effecting repairs to a small part of a crumbling infrastructure built in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, all to convey us faster, faster, faster hither to there?

We can’t say, of course. But we tend toward the belief in evidence of things not seen—that the portents of worldwide cataclysmic change are present, whether examined through geology, ecology, metaphysics, or common observation, and have been for some time, for at least a century, and continually in our presence, reminding almost daily to re-gird ourselves for the long haul and cease our worry so much of the short, fast ride, hither to nowhere.

So may the fourteen or so people who lost their lives Wednesday in Minnesota live on as more telling souls in this regard, in an effort to save from ourselves this hunk of orbiting water and dirt and biomass, such that future generations might yet take their stock in its remaining beauty.

And, yesterday, as we walked through that same cemetery nearby where we live, again by the stretch of ground where we saw the falcon two and a half weeks earlier, we saw some freshly dug earth, adorned at each top corner by a small United States flag, no marker yet, just a number, but only a few feet from where that falcon landed on July 16.

Five years from this date of Walpurgis Night, 1940, Adolf Hitler finally did his greatest service of his miserable life and politely put a pistol to his temple and pulled the trigger.

In his attempt to conquer the spinning sphere, he forgot something: We occupy the very same space in any given moment which another on the same latitude as ourselves did a moment before, whirling apace 25,000 miles per day around our axis, meeting ourselves every twenty-four hours about.

Vidkun Quisling, though perhaps standing in the shoes of the original Thane of Cawdor, did not a whit the outcome change for one settled on Macbeth’s serpentine rammed-earth designs.

Give thee a wind; thou ‘rt kind…

We dedicate this note to the Lord High Protector of Goose Island and his seeing-purblind lineage abounding.

And, so long to an old pal of the late nighttime so many years ago, a champion of the underdog, Mr. Snyder. Your jovial wisdom and willingness to say just about any old darned thing in the face of insanity always inspired many of us, sirrah. Godspeed to your unrequited spirit and may it be caught by another somewhere down the colorful martooni line.

Blandness and "neutrality" isn't it, as it leads only ultimately to world war, in case you bland neutrals of the Goebbels numb-speak didn't notice.

And, without knowing he had gone, we suddenly saw his image last Monday just laughing away and having the best time, as he passed us on the way somewhere. As they say, the rest is hostery...

So, let's all just look ourselves right in the mirror and just ask the question, finally: Sir, are ye insane or what?


Veto of This Scheme Would Be Justified

The President is reported to be in humor to veto the Barden amendments to the Wage & Hour Law if they succeed in getting past the Senate--which is less than certain. And he ought to.

About the basic principle of the Wage & Hour Law there may be room for difference of opinion. The only good feature of the Barden amendments is the provision that the law shall not hereafter apply to the people making as much as $150 a month.

For the rest, the amendments simply mean exempting over one million workers employed in canneries, packing houses, lumbering, etc.--the biggest interest in Mr. Barden's North Carolina district--from the wage and hour provisions. It is precisely such people that the bill was designed to protect, for they have been among the lowest paid in the country.

And the argument put up for it--that these people process farm products--has no cogency at all. So do people in textile factories process products of the farm. And there is not the slightest reason why owners of canneries, lumber mills, etc., should be given favors over the owners of textile mills.

Nor is it any argument that these higher wages mean higher costs for canned goods, the products of packing houses, lumber, and so on--higher living costs for the consumer. Higher wages everywhere mean that.

These amendments merely propose, in the last analysis, to get at the Wage and Hour Law by making an empty shell of it, while still pretending that it is a good thing in general. That is a good deal less than candid and deserves the veto.

Red Stuff

These Demands Smack All Too Plainly of the Source

Twenty years of cooking up wild charges and questionable evidence for the Dies Committee by the worst labor-baiting shipowners of the West Coast, couldn't do as much to confirm the public suspicion that Communism has wormed its way into the maritime unions as the demands of the crew of the American-Hawaiian freighter Pananan, which is tied up in San Diego because of their refusal to take it to sea again after it had entered the California port en route from Baltimore today.

These demands have nothing to do with wages and living conditions on the ship. According to the report of the captain what they demand is:

1--That the licensed officers be replaced by unlicensed members of the crew, the captain alone being allowed to remain on the bridge;

2--That the licensed officers be required to stay completely off decks;

3--That men be allowed to smoke while at the wheel.

It comes simply to demand that the ship be turned over to the crew to run as they please, with all discipline done away with. An unlicensed officer on a ship's deck is a thousand times more dangerous than a fourteen-year-old boy at the throttle of a railroad locomotive. And all experience has shown that men in ships must be kept at work and on the alert if the vessel is to be safe.

Such demands as these are strictly in the Communist vein. The idea of the Reds is never to improve the condition of the men whom they bamboozle into listening to them, but to create chaos.


Robert Should Have This For His Single Services

Robert Rice Reynolds plainly deserves a fitting reward from his grateful countrymen.

Robert, in his latest speech in the Senate, has informed the nation that the real danger to the United States is not that Nazi Germany may win in Europe and attempt to grab Allied possessions on this side, but that England has a naval base in Jamaica, France has a naval base in Martinique, Holland has one in Curacao, Mexico owns Lower California, and Costa Rica owns Cocos and [indiscernible name] Island. And that we must take them, by pressure if possible, by force if necessary.

We wonder that we had not thought of it before. But in point of fact, it is well known that the British have been trying to incite the Indians to burn Washington ever since the town was founded. It is notorious that the French have their "cells" in New Orleans and have long been proselyting suckers by feeding them at Antoine's. Investigation by our scouts reveals that Wilhelmina has well developed plans for annexing us, and that by week after next at the latest the mighty Dutch fleet, led naturally by the Flying Dutchman (that mighty man-of-war which nobody has ever been able to injure with even the greatest guns), will come pounding irresistibly into Long Island Sound to reclaim Manhattan for Peter Stuyvesant and the patroons.

And it is common knowledge that the Mexicans and the Costa Ricans are just on the verge of burning Los Angeles and carrying off all the cuties from Hollywood, thus turning America into a desert depriving Robert of anybody to play post office with.

For ourselves, we here and now vote for war with England, France, and Latin America. We may get whipped, but we will have avoided war with the Nazis--naturally, the greatest good. As for Robert, we think that a very fitting reward would be to invest him with full title and dignity of, say, Lord High Admiral and Protector of Goose Island.


Allies Seem Pretty Well To Have Lost in Norway

Barring a miracle of 1914, it looks as though the Allied effort in Norway has already come to debacle. As this is written, London has not yet officially admitted the fall of Storen, but the London dispatches take it for granted--and it is not likely that the censor would pass them if it were not well known to be true. And in any case, the Germans seem clearly to have established land communications between Oslo and Trondheim.

The taking of that city is now an extremely difficult feat for the Allies, perhaps an impossible one. There seems to be little doubt that the Germans are moving in reinforcements--whether by air or by sea--more rapidly than the Allies. And these troops to seem to be adequately equipped.

The Allies still have a chance to break through down the Gudbrandsdal Valley, perhaps, but there is nothing in their performance thus far to suggest that it can be done. And at this stage of the game, further Allied reinforcements are of dubious value, since the narrowness of the Norwegian dales makes it possible to use only a limited number of troops.

The British and French both have a faculty of making such a stand at the last moment as to turn a stunning defeat into a sort of negative victory. But it is probable that the Andaisnes offensive will have to be set down as a failure.

As for the Namaos offensive, it is left dangling, the ineffective half of a pincer, of which the other half was to be Andaisne. Moreover, the troops in that sector seem to be few and poorly equipped, and are already disorganized by defeat. It would be a marvel if they could yet succeed in taking Trondheim.

The Allies may manage to keep a foothold on central Norwegian soil, but it promises to have only nuisance value and to be held at great cost in blood--at least until forces and equipment can be brought up for a heavy offensive. And that such forces can be successfully brought in and organized is certainly questionable. Chances for them mainly rest on the possession by the Allies of a Norwegian airbase. And with Trondheim out, there is little hope of their acquiring such a base.

To the layman's eye, it looks as though the Allies have moved with a singular lack of energy and effectiveness, and to have failed utterly to make use of England's supposed mastery of the sea.

And something else we ran across the other day. What it means we don't know. Maybe it's Suzanne or Johanna or whoever she might be. We believe it's just art, to be enjoyed as a whole or not at all. V'la L'Bon Vent...

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