Opinion, Uncategorized

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela…

When it comes to movies we all have ‘guilty pleasures’ or ‘bad movies we love’ that we really don’t want to admit.   One of them for me, and I’ve never seen it it in it’s entirely, or do I know French, is a rather berserk little film from 1975 featuring French Actress Catherine Deneuve called Le Sauvage (Call Me Savage AKA Lovers Like Us).  From the decade that, in my opinion, where her Chanel No 5 commercials were way better than any of her movies, she stumbles into Bardot territory with this one.  Let’s just say that Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro didn’t come a moment too soon.

In Le Sauvage then 32-year-old Deneuve plays Nelly, the breathtakingly beautiful fiancée of a Latin American crime boss.  She suddenly realizes at what looks like an engagement party, also known as the opening credits, that she just doesn’t want to be married to him anymore.  Escaping the would-be groom’s amorous intentions, she runs to her ex-boss Alex Fox, played by Tony Roberts, where after changing her clothes in front of him yanks off the wall his priceless French Impressionist Painting (which apparently no owner of a third-rate disco can do without) and runs into the streets of this South American metropolis she’s stuck in.  It is there that Nelly meets Martin, none other than 54-year-old French film legend Yves Montand who is there with his own crack pot scheme; believe it not something to do with perfume.  She asks for his help, he gives it to her, she returns the favor by hiring a plane to take her to the tropical island where Martin lives.  There, Nelly begins to drive him crazy and a battle of wills commences.  He throws her into his boat.  She takes an ax and sinks the boat. He dives into the water and swims after her, still holding onto that painting, back to shore. She steals his food, he whistles after her.  She locks him in his cellar, he escapes.  She runs away, he throws a pineapple at her.  Of course, after all that they fall in love.  However, it’s not just love, it’s SAVAGE LOVE!

Despite the casual sexism, flimsy plot, bad clothes, bad acting on Roberts’ part, and of course the essential gratuitous topless scene, Le Sauvage has a charm of its’ own.   Not only that, it’s all set in a tropical paradise of untold riches where there are gorgeous beaches, world class airports, and natives who speak pretty good French.  A Francophone Costa Rica for the 70’s if you will.

Did I forget to mention that the country was Venezuela?  Despite the irony, what is going on down there now will be left for another time.  However back in 1975 it was the perfect place to apparently make a romantic comedy.  In fact, it seems that back in France it’s considered a classic.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot at the moment see for myself how true it was.  I was watching our heroine’s plane being turned back at the airport when something came up and I couldn’t finish it the one time I caught it on television.  However, from what I saw of it, and clips on YouTube, it was for me a hoot.  So, I really don’t know how it all ends for our couple.  Does Martin take Nelly to Paris where they live happily ever after?  Does she do commercials selling his perfume?  Does Alex ever get back that painting?  When it ever comes back on Turner Classic Movies, or pops up at the Cleveland Cinematheque, I will have to drop everything and find out.


Link to film clip courtesy of YouTube.  Can be deleted at any time.

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Friday Night Musings


This evening, before I attended a sold out Summers at Severance concert featuring Mozart’s Requiem, I visited what was once the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  I say once because it’s now along with the Holden Arboretum called Holden Forests and Gardens.  Anyway, the first words to come out of the mouth of Librarian Gary Esmonde were “Don’t tell me you are still involved in politics!” Then, he was the one to tell me that he heard Steve Bannon was finally let go and showed me the article in the newspaper he was reading to boot.  Wow, Neo-Nazis converge on Charlottesville last Friday, Steve Bannon gets the boot this one.  Things happen faster than I can write.

What I saw on the television last Saturday stunned me.  I knew that with Trump in the White House much of the discreet bigotry that we still see in Society will roar back into the public mainstream.  However, what took place there, leading to an Ohioan to drive his car like a would be Isis Jihadist into a crowd of people killing Heather Heyer and injuring so many others shocked me.  That day, I did a quick post on the blog regarding this.  Later, I received via on of my social media accounts a comment from someone I know from the neighborhood.  This individual (who I won’t name to protect) wrote that it sounded like sides were wrong in Virginia; just like the President this person voted for in November would say.     Initially, I was so angry I invited others to chime in, and I usually don’t like doing that.   The subsequent cyber-debate between this person and a guy I know pretty much reflects the polarized mood of this country right now.  However, where we are at now didn’t just come out of the blue; and that’s the problem. The thing is, this person is not the only one I know who would side with Trump on this matter.

The mass resignations of CEOs and now members of Trumps Evangelical Advisory Board (of all things) I pray will put more pressure on his enablers in Congress to do something.  Former president Barak Obama’s tweet that went viral said what many people out there wanted to hear. So did John Brennan in his letter to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where he writes,  “If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and our standing in the world.”  Unfortunately, the Donald has apparently already done both.


Is Howard Fineman right in saying his Huffington Post article that Donald Trump will want to be the “last man standing” amidst the chaos he sows or is Tony Schwartz in saying that he will resign by the end of this year if Mueller gives him immunity.  Both choices are tough ones, and so much damage to the nation has been done in the meantime.

I wonder what will happen next week.



A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Thoughts on Charlottesville; A Quick Little Post.

What I’ve seen so far on the television regarding the violence that broke out today in Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving one dead and 19 injured disturbs me.  The debate over removing a statue of Robert E. Lee aside, what happened today, and Trump’s manufactured tweet, is another step down a path for this country that I fear.  This on top of the jitters over North Korea,  and now Venezuela, makes me think about what our president said on the campaign trail and in his inaugeral speech of an America that, seems today far more like what he spoke about than only a year ago.  Despite saying the words “there is no room for prejudice”, the Alt-right and White supremacists are emboldened because they have a few of their own now in the White House.

This American carnage “stops right now”, as Trump said in January, or will it get worse?


A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

A Quick Little Post.



View of Lake Erie looking West from the Villa Angela Beach Pier.  Taken Saturday.

The dog days of summer are staring to feel like more like Indian Summer this past week here on the North Coast.  Not one day braking 90 last week and seventies this weekend.  Actually, this is the perfect weather for me and it’s really nice to not to have the air conditioner running.  Saturday  I took a walk at Wildwood and Villa Angela.   The surf on Lake Erie were high and the waves were crashing over the breakwalls with wild abandon.  I myself came more than once being splashed with water on the fishermen’s pier at the mouth of Euclid creek.   For some reason, weather like this make my mind wander north and I kept thinking how it would have been a nice day to drive up I-90 to Canada.   Instead, I wound up at a steak dinner in Newbury Ohio.

This past Wednesday, the Washington Post’s Daily 202 has something on the new book that just came out by Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake.  Having just glanced at this ad hoc review by James Hohmann, I must admit that it’s something I might like to take out of the library if possible.

To be honest, I do respect those on the other side who sincerely believe conservative values and are willing to work with liberals and progressives on major policies if need be.  Congressman Flake seems to be one of those in mind.  It is very courageous of him to stick to his guns at a time when so many Republicans chucked those very values out the window once Barack Obama left the White House.

Again, things are developing so fast when it comes to national politics.  I wonder if the Donald would like to frame a copy of the latest issue of Newsweek for one of his golf courses?   Then again, after seeing that publicity stunt..I mean rally…in West Virginia (“lock her up?”), I wonder what the President of Mexico and Prime Minister of Australia think about us since so many actually did vote for this guy.  Thanks to the transcripts, among other things, we all can get a pretty good idea what they think of the man himself.

Other books of interest are out there that caught my eye from one by Canadian journalist Doug Saunders to the latest by the MIT tech geeks Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee titled Machine, Platform, Crowd.   However, what I really would like to do is more writing, and finding a professional audience who is willing to read and share it.   Let’s see what comes up in the next blog posts.


Photographs taken by James Valentino.

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Out in the Boonies: Picnics with the Geauga Dems and Other Matters.

There is always that fine line where you go to a group’s event because you have to or you want to.  The tipping point between one or the other is regarding the costs.  So, when a club has their free annual picnic the odds are you plan to be there like I was a few Sundays ago in Russell Township for the Geauga Democratic Party’s Picnic.

An Annual event, the picnic was one of many held throughout\ NE Ohio this time of year.  The pavilion in The West Woods Park was crowded.  Middlefield Councilman Ron Wiech and his team were grilling up the hamburgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausages.  As my my watermelon, it wound up joining the other two already there being eaten.  Janet and Terry Carson were working the tables as a few candidates did come up to speak; and not just Ron.  Former Appeals Court Judge Mary Jane Trapp spoke since the one who won her seat in 2010 is aged out and she would like her old job back.   That wouldn’t be at all a bad thing since Ms. Trapp was an excellent jurist and because there is talk that the husband of the one there now, Tim Grendell, is actually thinking of running for it (having a record of playing poltiical musical chairs with his wife in the past). The residents of the NE corner of Ohio could do a whole lot worse. Then there was a woman who is trying to run against Congressman David Joyce.   Finally, Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill spoke and announced he wasn’t going to run for governor next year since Richard Cordray might.

After all, isn’t the saying that all politics is local?  I continue to keep Frank Rich’s piece in my head on how long it really took during Watergate for the tide to turn against Richard Nixon.  Despite all the mind-boggling news from eight people now at that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower to news that Trump met a second time with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit, it will probably be well into 2017 before anything on  the order of  July 1974 hitting DC.  We’re stuck with the Donald for now, and the damage he, McConnell and Ryan have done so far these past six months has been considerable.  Yet, for many of those who voted for Trump  in November, that’s probably what they want.

So far, all this really hasn’t hit people.  After all, the stock market is still up, housing starts rebounded and apparently for the first time in seven years pay increases for low-income workers outpaced the rest of the population.  Of course, no matter how much our president would like to take credit for all this, it was eight years of hard work by the previous administration that in part made this happen.  It will be interesting to see what economic reports will show a year from now.

It may be 2017 but it’s still an election year.  In Cleveland, not only is there a mayoral race but a number of councilmen such as Mike Polensek, are trying to get re-elected too.  Recently, I attended my second campaign meeting for him at the Lithuanian Hall on East 185th St.  He already ordered the yard signs, had a few T-shirts, planned a fundraiser in August, and has been walking up and down the streets in Ward 8 and plans to do even more.

What Donald Trump said in that New York times interview didn’t surprise me at all; especially throwing Jeff Sessions (let alone Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus) under the bus.  After all, hasn’t it always been for him all about himself?  However, as this piece in the Daily 202 shows, you go ona limb for this guy at your own risk.

With a president who is apparently trying to see if he has the right to pardon himself, it is ever more essential for the Democrats to get their act together for 2018 and be able to win back at least the Senate.  The divisions there between the Sanders supporters and those who are just plain ‘liberal’ might make it rather difficult to bridge for a clear concise message.  However, it can be done, if Perez and company can do more than just send out surveys and requests for money.   Then again, with John McCain not only voting against “skinny repeal’ but also admonishing his colleagues to try to work together, you may just never know.


A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Happy Fourth Of July From Mad Man On A Great Lake.


A view of the Wildwood Yacht Club, taken today.

Who would have thought this is already July?   The blog is still here and this writer is busy with his little projects.  Despite the loud noises from firecrackers scaring my cat, today has been in fact the quietest of a four-day weekend away from ‘the job’.  I didn’t get as much done as I hoped, but I can’t say that nothing was accomplished either.

There are some ideas for potential upcoming posts, and at least one article churning around in my head for this blog.  It turns out one possible subject I could have worked on; a policy summit on housing,  human capital, and inequality hosted by the Federal Reserve, took place two weeks ago and I didn’t know about it.  I also heard on the radio that the Cleveland Planning Commission was doing at the end of the week a presentation on the Opportunity Corridor but cannot find out any further details.  After all, subjects like these, and not my opinions on current politics, that are the basis for the blog.

Speaking of politics, Frank Rich’s article last week in New York Magazine was very interesting to say the least and who knows where we will be one year from now regarding the Trump Circus.  But I digress, enjoy this fine evening (at least here on the North Coast) look at Fireworks and Happy Fourth of July.


Photograph by James Valentino


A Quick Little Post, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Where It’s All Heading? A Quick Little Post.


A trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

Last month, Mad Man On A Great Lake received 122 views.  That dos seems better than one but, for me, it’s kind of makes me think.   After all, this is supposed to be an outlet to self publish things that apparently real publications such as Crain’s Cleveland business aren’t interested in (What Happened to the West Quad Project? March 7 2017).  It has also turned out, mainly in my quick little posts, a mean to articulate my voice on issues, for the most part lately political since in the real world I am pretty much forced to play the role of listener with people who basically want others to validate their own views, no matter how much I truly disagree with them.  That was not the plan for this.

While perhaps A Long Hot Stinking Summer probably deserves only 6 views throughout the world, I would have thought that Don Peck’s America Is Still In a Pinch would have received far more than the 14 views generated.   After all, a lot more time and effort was put into that.

Like many other things, I have to contemplate where I am going with this and if the direction is towards a cliff instead of a gate, I will just turn and walk away.  Well, enough self-pity, there are other things that need to get done.

Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy your Saturday Evening.  I sure plan to.


Photograph by James Valentino.