Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hugh Hefner's Ghost

They say Hugh Hefner never dies. But it happened this month. His controversial magazine, Playboy, included nude women, beautiful bachelor pads, and social commentary. The Playboy bunny became an American icon. The controversy, of course, was whether Playboy glorified the body ( a la Renaissance ) or objectified women. "Liberated women" could take the former view, but pantsuit feminists took the latter opinion, and posters, calendarsa and magazines were removed from white and blue collar workplaces alike.

Context mattered, and Playboy sold itself as a classy publication. If Playboy was a high-minded ideal, 25-cent peep shows were the crude, ugly bastardization of the beautiful body. Times Square, New York, was the epoch of sleaze, and Mayor Giuliani's cleaning up the city meant shutting down those venues. The twinning of public sexuality and mid century urban physical decay must've made sense in the mind of the Moral Majority. In Hugh Hefner's final year, Playboy removed the nudity to appeal to a wider audience. It is a paradox how in some ways, America has become more sexually liberated, like greater acceptance of LGBTs;  but has become constrained, such as the undergrounding of nudity to the internet, and the rise of MGTOW online forums fomenting resentment for the other gender.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Farewell, USS Ponce

When the USS Ponce was commissioned in the early 1970's, you could guess some of the sailors had somewhere else to be. Given that it was the Vietnam era, there was a draft. No women on combat ships then, as this was an LPD amphibious ship. Skip forward to 2012, and the USS Ponce got a second life. Saved from decommissioning, she has spent the better of five years in the Persian Gulf, testing new theories of littoral action in a Navy once accustomed to deep sea operations. Of note is furing these past five years, she carried a civilian operating crew. As the last ship of that class, the Navy sailors who knew its engines were in bigger positions on other ships or shoreside. The civilian engineers put a bit of sweat equity to get the ship mission ready again. She has served a good five years with a hybrid crew, and is now being commissioned after 46 years of service. For this last tour of duty, all engineers were volunteers on one of the last steam vessels crewed by Navy civilians.