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The year Dizzy Gillespie ran for president—spoiler alert, he didn’t win
10.21.2014
06:09 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:
Lyndon Johnson
Dizzy Gillepsie


 
In 1964 the “fate of the free world,” ahem, came down to a contest between two men, Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Republican challenger, Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator from Arizona. History tells us that the contest was decided in favor of Johnson, but the whimsically inclined can entertain another outcome in a parallel universe—John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie as U.S. President.

In that heady year the notion of Dizzy for President was a little bit of a thing in the culture, as the famous trumpeter, by then synonymous with bebop itself, announced his intention to become chief executive of the land. Dizzy even announced that his running mate would be Phyllis Diller.
 

 
As Barry McRae wrote in Dizzy Gillespie: His Life and Times:
 

Goldwater was a conservative who had voted against the civil-rights bill and exploited the ‘redneck’ backlash or favouring the “freedom not to associate.” At a Republican meeting he declared that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

That such a man could be considered for the presidency worried Gillespie enormously, and when jazz writer Ralph Gleason suggested that Dizzy himself had better credentials for the job, he began to take the idea seriously. Gleason began to use his jazz column to promote his possible candidate. He pointed out Gillespie’s skill with people of all nationalities and the success of the State Department tours. Jon Hendricks put presidential words to Salt Peanuts and Dizzy himself thoroughly enjoyed the whole operation. …

He postulated a change of colour for the White House, suggest Bo Diddley as secretary of state and told doubters that he was running for president because “We need one.”

 
Gillespie promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed “The Blues House.” He proposed the following provocative positions: Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max Roach (Secretary of Defense), Malcolm X (Attorney General—“because he’s one cat we definitely want to have on our side”), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace—“because he’ll take a piece of your head faster than anyone I know”), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Traveling Ambassador). The campaign buttons that Gillespie’s booking agency had produced some years earlier “for publicity, as a gag” were now enlisted in the effort; proceeds from them would benefit the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Martin Luther King Jr. He advocated U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, promised free education and health care, and pledged to put an African-American astronaut on the moon (if none could be found, Gillespie volunteered to go himself).
 

 
In 1963 Gillespie released Dizzy for President, which included as its final track “Vote Dizzy,” for which singer Jon Hendricks supplied new political lyrics to Gillespie’s trademark tune “Salt Peanuts” as follows:
 

Your politics ought to be a groovier thing
Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!
So get a good president who’s willing to swing
Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!

 

 
via Lawyers, Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
President Lyndon B. Johnson informs his tailor that his new pants must respect his ‘bunghole’
07.29.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Fashion
History
Politics

Tags:
Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson
 
On August 9, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson decided that he needed some new pants, so he got on the horn and called the Haggar Clothing Co. based in Dallas, Texas, and ordered himself up a new set, along with some shirts and jackets. That call has become something of a classic among presidential archive fans, for entirely obvious reasons: in his colorful, home-spun style, Johnson uses vivid language in describing “the crotch, down where your nuts hang” as well as describing an area we would today call “the taint”: “where the zipper ends, round under my ... back to my bunghole.” (Hilariously, LBJ belches right in the middle of that last description.)

Johnson lets on that his weight varies by “10 or 15 pounds a month”; add in the fact that Johnson nicknamed his penis “Jumbo” and it’s quite clear that the man needed a fair amount of space down there, lest the pants “cut” him “just like riding a wire fence.” Ouch. Any guy who has worn pants that are a bit too tight can relate.

Here’s a full transcript, from American RadioWorks:
 

Operator: Go ahead sir

LBJ: Mr. Haggar?

JH: Yes this is Joe Haggar

LBJ: Joe, is your father the one that makes clothes?

JH: Yes sir—we’re all together

LBJ: Uh huh. You all made me some real lightweight slacks, uh, that he just made up on his own and sent to me 3 or 4 months ago. There’s a light brown and a light green, a rather soft green, a soft brown.

JH: Yes sir

LBJ: and they’re real lightweight now and I need about six pairs for summer wear.

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I want a couple, maybe three of the light brown kind of a almost powder color like a powder on a ladies face. Then they were some green and some light pair, if you had a blue in that or a black, then I’d have one blue and one black. I need about six pairs to wear around in the evening when I come in from work

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I need…they’re about a half a inch too tight in the waist.

JH: Do you recall sir the exact size, I just want to make sure we get them right for you

LBJ: No, I don’t know—you all just guessed at ‘em I think, some—wouldn’t you the measurement there?

JH: we can find it for you

LBJ: well I can send you a pair. I want them half a inch larger in the waist than they were before except I want two or three inches of stuff left back in there so I can take them up. I vary ten or 15 pounds a month.

JH: alright sir

LBJ: So leave me at least two and a half, three inches in the back where I can let them out or take them up. And make these a half an inch bigger in the waist. And make the pockets at least an inch longer, my money, my knife, everything falls out—wait just a minute.

Operator: Would you hold on a minute please?

[conversation on hold for two minutes]

LBJ: Now the pockets, when you sit down, everything falls out, your money, your knife, everything, so I need at least another inch in the pockets. And another thing—the crotch, down where your nuts hang—is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it’s just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I’ve had anywhere in the United States,

JH: Fine

LBJ: But, uh when I gain a little weight they cut me under there. So, leave me , you never do have much of margin there. See if you can’t leave me an inch from where the zipper (burps) ends, round, under my, back to my bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need to.

JH: Right

LBJ: Now be sure you have the best zippers in them. These are good that I have. If you get those to me I would sure be grateful

JH: Fine, Now where would you like them sent please?

LBJ: White House.

JH: Fine

LBJ: Now, uh, I don’t guess there is any chance of getting a very lightweight shirt, sport shirt to go with that slack, is there? That same color?

JH: We don’t make them, but we can have them made up for you.

LBJ: If you might look around, I wear about a 17, extra long.

JH: Would you like in the same fabric?

LBJ: Yeah I sure would, I don’t know whether that’s too heavy for a shirt.

JH: I think it’d be too heavy for a shirt.

LBJ: I sure want the lightest I can, in the same color or matching it. If you don’t mind, find me somebody up there who makes good shirts and make a shirt to match each one of them and if they’re good, we’ll order some more.

JH: Fine

LBJ: I just sure will appreciate this, I need it more than anything. And uh, now that’s a..about it. I guess I could get a jacket made outta that if I wanted to, couldn’t I?

JH: I think that—didn’t Sam Haggar have some jackets made?

LBJ: Yeah you sent me some jackets some earlier, but they were way too short. They hit me about halfway down my belly. I have a much longer waist. But I thought if they had material like that and somebody could make me a jacket, I’d sent them a sample to copy from.

JH: Well I tell you what, you send us this, we’ll find someone to make it

LBJ:ok

JH: We’ll supply the material to match it

LBJ: Ok, I’ll do that. Uh now, how do I—can you give this boy the address because I’m running to a funeral and give this boy the address to where we can send the trousers—don’t worry, you’ll get the measurements out of them and add a half an inch to the back and an give us couple of an inch to the pockets and a inch underneath to we can let them out.

JH: What you ‘d like is a little more stride in the crotch

LBJ: Yeah that’s right. What I’d like is to give me a half a inch more then leave me some more. Ok here he is.

JH: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the others

 
Here’s a cute animation of the call by Tawd Dorenfeld for Jesse Thorn’s Put This On:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Lyndon Johnson’s Amphibious Car
04.02.2013
06:57 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Lyndon Johnson

LBJ Amphicar
Oh those unconventional American presidents and their eccentric habits!

The Amphicar was manufactured in West Germany between 1960 and 1968, with only 3,770 made. This picture of LBJ driving his was taken in April of 1965—for context, that’s right around the time Johnson delivered his “Peace without Conquest” speech on Vietnam, while secretly deploying offensive operations against the Viet Cong with a massive troop increase.

Apparently, LBJ used to take unknowing passengers for rides in the Amphicar, waiting until they got to the shore before shouting, “The brakes don’t work! The brakes won’t hold! We’re going in! We’re going under!” And of course they’d slip into the water, unharmed, but terrified!

Haha! What a wacky guy!

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment