27.9.07

The Brunswick House

Journal Entry - September 10th, 1979.

Living in the Annex...63 Kendal - 375 a month...College and Spadina. Best of all, the local guys have a rugby team -- THE NOMADS. Aussies, Brits, Kiwis, a couple of South Africans, all mixed in with good-time seeking Canadians. I've played rugby since I was at boarding school and have quickly become a not-very-good-but-enthusiastic Number Eight.

Our hang out is the "world famous" Brunswick House - man, what a place. Friday night's are like something out of a Fellini film.

Drunken U of T guys trying to pick up drunken U of T girls...media people trying to talk shop (this is both a CBC and CTV watering hole)...a shit-kicking country band on stage...and the entire place policed by two BIZARRE BOUNCERS. A dwarf and a giant. The dwarf is the tough guy naturally. It reminds me of the Strathcona in Edmonton or the St. Louis in Calgary. Twenty cent draft beers and all the Cheesies you can eat. Just my style.

But here's the "real" news - met a girl. Rachel. a 19 year old Aussie nannie. Big personality. Bigger appetites. (oh yea !) Met her at a Nomads booze-up. Could be good. Careful Don.

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September 27th, 2007.

I've been watching the Ken Burns series "The War". Not impressed. Not only is the script is full of errors, I think the title is pompous and the whole approach towards the telling of this "story" is wrong. Errors ? Errors ? (I hear Kenny squeak) What errors ? Well, here's one. Last night's episode was about the Italian campaign. How the US 5th Army fought its way north from Salerno towards Rome. The GIs were stopped about 200 km south of Rome by a tough German division who controlled what for 5,000 years has been called "the Gateway to Rome" - the Liri Valley.

The script read -:

"the valley was dominated by German guns dug in at a place called Monte Cassino which controlled access to the road to Rome"

In actuality the valley was dominated by German guns dug in at a place called - Difensa, the mountain immediately west of Monte Cassino.

How do I know ? I climbed it. With soldiers.

It was the taking of Difensa by the First Special Services Force (The Devils Brigade) on the night of Dec 3-4th, 1943 that turned the tide of the Italian campaign. Monte Cassino WAS a long, nasty battle - but it was not THE battle.

The script was wrong. And you'd think for the amount of money these guys had to spend they could get their facts correct.

But my bigger criticism of the series has to do with its maudlin, dewey-eyed, tone. Burns brought the same melancholy meanderings to his study of the Civil War, Baseball, Jazz ..and now WW 2.

For historical documentaries to work they have to reflect not just the facts but also the mood, the culture, the personality of the place in time they are purporting to document. A bittersweet banjo lament might have worked as b.g music for a letter-home-from-Gettysburg.... but as a pad for a letter from Anzio ?? No.

I was told yesterday by a PBS Executive that the network spend TEN MILLION dollars publicizing the series. 10 million -- and that's just the p.r. line item.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So what happened with Rachel? You married her?