A CONTENTIOUS BURT PRELUTSKY at WVRC on March 24th
Yes, we did have a meeting, and it began with the Invocation, by SUSAN KLEIN Since Bishop Oscar Romero was killed on March 24th 1980, this is the Anniversary of his death. Bishop Romero was leading protests about social conditions in El Salvador, and his opponents decided the only way to quiet him was to kill him. He made a difference, but it cost him his life. In her prayer, SUSAN pointed out that his example continues to show the way to social justice. Thank you, SUSAN this was history that most of us didn’t know. And speaking of not knowing, we were then told that the REAL LEO TSENG would lead the Pledge. Before he did, LEO reminded us that he was not born in the U.S., thus earned his Citizenship, which is most precious. He urged each of us to think about all the words of our Pledge of Allegiance. Well done, LEO, even if you did try to skip the Four Way Test! RICK BROUS had prepared two songs, but was limited to one, so song sheets ABOUT the Four Way Test were passed out. It isn’t quite clear to YOE why or how, but RICK in demonstrating the tune, was then thanked for his presentation a solo, it turned out.
There were several guests. Murat Binard was our Visiting Rotarian, coming to us from Istanbul, and his daughter, who is in Rotaract, was with him. Needless to say, NEVIN SENKAN had fun meeting him. PP STEVE SCHERER was pleased to present his son, Ben, who is in his medical residency in Chicago. The HEIKKILA’S, DWIGHT and SOOK, brought Soo Youn, who is doing some advanced study at UCLA. PEGGY was with her helper, and of course SUNNY was with LENNY. While neither of our two usual bird dogs, ATHENA or BRIAN, were present, it nonetheless was established that DON PARK didn’t have his pin thus he donated five bucks.
MARK ROGO had two reports. First, he visited UniHi, and had never set foot on that campus before. He was impressed with their four separate departments almost like college and noted that they have one staff person who does nothing except check on any missing students. This pays off, since their graduation rate is better than other LA high schools. At this point, JACK PAUL rose to report that he had recently given two 1-1/2 hour talks to their Engineering Students, and he found them to be an excellent audience. This speaker program is directed by STEVE PETTISE, and is just the kind of Community Service that Rotary favors. MARK ROGO then reappeared, reminding us all that next Thursday, the 31st, Robert Goodricke will be speaking from 7 to 9 (some question time, included) at the University Synagogue, which is located over Peet’s Coffee in Westwood. He is the author of “A Reliable Wife” which is currently #1 on the NY Times Best Seller list. Sounds intriguing.
Don' forget our relief checks for Japan, please. Make them out to Westwood Village Rotary Foundation, and send them to DON NELSON. He will combine them, DOUBLE the amount, and send it to R.I. This is a real deal - twice whatever you can give. And I'd appreciate knowing if you are participating - not the amount, but that you are aboard. Please keep me posted (YOE, that is). And while I'm at it, the last District Breakfast of this Rotary year will be April 12th. The Speaker will be Christine Devine, and she is excellent.
PP CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, Burt Prelutsky. He has a long and distinguished writing career, including print, movies and TV. He has been the movie critic for the LA Times, and is the author of “Conservatives are from Mars and Liberals are from San Francisco.” And it may be appropriate here for YOE to admit that he (YOE, that is) considers himself to be a moderate conservative, but recent tests on the internet indicate a leaning toward both Liberalism and being a Libertarian. I bring this up now, since the following report should be perhaps considered along with my personal background.
Burt Prelutsky was raised in a Russian Jewish home his parents came from the old country. This of course meant he was a Democrat he had to be. He voted for the recent Democrats, including Jimmy Carter, but contends that he always woke up the next morning hating himself. He served two terms on the Writers Guild Board of Directors, and this provided a turning point for him. The Board was empowered to provide up to $5,000 toward any request they received, with requests above that going to the entire membership for a vote. The lawyers in the Robert Maplethorpe case requested $5,000 for his defense. He was a photographer, and his pictures were mostly of 10 or 11 year old nude children. When the Board voted, Prelutsky was against support. This shocked the other members, since they considered this to be a case of censorship. After all, Maplethorpe was opposed by Senator Jesse Helms, for one. Those on the Board could not believe that Prelutsky would side with a southern racist. So this was a turning point for him.
He then switched to reading from a couple of his recent articles. First was a story about the new flag hanging near his doorway. He bought this flag to honor his grandparents, on his Mother’s side. He didn’t know his other grandparents, since they died before he was born. While they arrived in the U.S. in 1921, they never learned English, relying on Russian, Hebrew, and Yiddish, which they preferred. Since Burt spoke only English, his recollection of his grandparents was that his grandmother would smile at him, and slip him a quarter. His grandfather always wore a black suit, and was very religious, attending Suhl twice a day.
He then switched to his book, “Trying to Make Sense of Liberals”. Suddenly he found that all his Jewish friends wouldn’t have anything to do with him they cut him off. He became convinced that they would reverse his circumcision if they could (some laughter here). He named Spike Lee and Barack Obama, claiming that Obama found nothing exceptional about America. He felt Jews expected that he (Prelutsky) could be bought, and they apparently believed that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were buying explosives and should be prosecuted for war crimes. He noticed that they never had much to say about Christianity.
What kind of place would it be for liberals? He figured it would be a dark and scary place, with lots of potholes. They would be comparing George Bush to Hitler, hoping he would die a slow and painful death. They are approaching a high point, from which they see the world. He doesn’t expect them to say nice things about the world why should they? They are out to destroy America, whether intentionally or otherwise. He wonders why they question Sarah Palin's intelligence, when they have Nancy Peloisi and Janet Napolitano (and you can see we are getting into some possible trouble here). He suggested Barbara Boxer should be sprinkled with fertilizer, and watered twice a week. (And, to be fair, some people laughed) This, improbably, led to questions from the floor.
Q&A When were you at UCLA? He never got a degree from UCLA, but he did write for the Daily Bruin, Satyr Magazine (humor) and Westwind, their Literary magazine. His first semester of college was at UC Santa Barbara, which was like a wasteland. When he transferred to UCLA, ROTC was required, and he hated the 0700 starting time. This was the spring of 1958. While he was the movie critic, he panned Exodus, which outraged the head of their production company they were big contributors to UCLA. When they found out he was Jewish, their comment “Yeah, they’re the worst kind” got another delayed laugh. How does he think liberals are destroying America? He thinks going into Libya is insane. These are not George Washington’s and Abraham Lincolns running around on their streets. Both parties are wrong, but the Democrats are wronger. Solar and Wind power is insane. Maybe eventually, but not now.
Obama raises the debt level by four trillion dollars in two years, and the Republicans want to reduce it by 500 billion in ten years. He then provided an interesting way to understand these huge numbers. 1 million seconds is about 13 days. 1 billion seconds is about 32 years. 1 trillion seconds is 32,000 years. When he claims to be a conservative, it’s because he is in tune with conservative values. He’s a Republican, but he would be for a third party, but they would back the wrong guy.
He asked for a show of hands of those who watch Fox News. Apparently, CBS fired a commentator named Juan Williams, who was then picked up by Fox. He says PBS is the mouthpiece for the left, but firing Williams didn’t really hurt Williams at all. He wants someone to ask Williams why he continues to pretend he is a victim. At this point, SUSAN KLEIN began to challenge some of his statements and from here on, I’ll just summarize. Somehow they got onto the subject of Muslims, and SUSAN felt strongly that his viewpoint was completely one-sided against, that is. When he said he didn’t understand why people want to be Muslims today, SUSAN objected, strongly. He wouldn’t quit.
JACK PAUL stood up, stating he was a liberal and was for social justice. This drew a response from Prelutsky, and the two of them began dueling. Apparently one phrase that bothered PRELUTSKY was the word social before justice he claims the two are totally different animals. Speaking personally, I wouldn’t want to challenge JACK to a verbal duel. I do hope that some of what I have reported is accurate and maybe even helpful in recalling this most unusual meeting. Could I be forgiven by reminding everyone that I love to inject a new word into your vocabulary, and now you, too, can use Contentious!