Sunday, July 24, 2016

246. Edna St. Vincent Millay, Feminist Romantic

This post will begin with a limerick that I encountered recently:

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was the night-burning flame of her day;
She lured all her lovers
And significant others
                      To bed, and then tossed them away.

     Limericks aren’t the greatest poetry, but this one is an appropriate introduction to Edna, whose personal life was, to put it mildly, irregular.  Born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892, she and her two younger sisters were raised in poverty by their mother, a nurse, who divorced her schoolteacher husband for financial irresponsibility.  Edna was given the middle name “St. Vincent” because, shortly before her birth, an uncle’s life had been saved at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York.  So there she was, right from birth, linked to Greenwich Village, where she would later migrate and achieve fame. 

     The family moved about in Maine and finally settled on the property of the mother’s aunt in Camden, just up the coast from Rockland.  I know Rockland, where I always stayed en route to vacations on Monhegan Island, off midcoast Maine, and was made aware that one of its few claims to fame is as the birthplace of Edna St. Vincent.  But she didn’t stay there long, and to my knowledge never went back. Today Rockland has an incipient glimmer of sophistication, and Camden certainly does as well, but for a restless young talent like hers, those towns back then were less than stimulating; they never could have held Edna long.

     Neither did Maine.  Already noted for her outspoken ways in high school, she went on to Vassar, where her budding literary talent, which her mother had encouraged from the start, was accompanied by a number of sexual relationships with other girls.  (Which, in a girls’ school, is about all that’s available.)  Older than the other girls and a born rule-breaker, she was often summoned to the office of President Henry Noble MacCracken, who reprimanded her and limited her privileges for infractions.  Once, an hour after she had reported sick, he looked out his office window and saw her trying to kick out the light in a chandelier on top of an arch, a rather lively exercise, he informed her, for one so taken with illness.  “Prexy,” she said with a solemn look, “at the moment of your class, I was in pain with a poem.”  Infractions continued, but he never expelled her because, as he explained to her, he didn’t want a “banished Shelley” on his record.  (The poet Shelley had been expelled from Oxford for promoting atheism.)  “On those terms,” Millay replied, “I think I will continue to live in this hell-hole.” 

     Even so she was finally suspended, which meant that, with graduation approaching, she couldn’t receive her degree.  When the faculty signed a petition urging that she be allowed to receive her degree, the president relented, but forbade her to participate in any commencement exercises, including the singing of a hymn she had composed for the occasion.

     Graduating in 1917, she made a beeline for Greenwich Village – not the high-rent Village of today, a citadel of middle-class professionals with a sprinkling of richies in luxury apartments, but the low-rent Village of yore, a picturesque mix of Italian working-class immigrants, would-be anarchists, joyous mifits, budding writers, starving hopeful artists, shocking specimens of the New Woman, other challengers of the status quo, and weekend tourists who came to have a look at the crazies.

     Soon after arriving and being desperate for money, she got a part in a one-act farce being staged by one of the Village’s small experimental theaters, and fell into the arms of the author/director, who found her part chorus girl, part nun, part Botticelli Venus.  The chorus girl and Venus won out, and soon his protégée was having sex with every man in sight.  There was something about this freckled redhead from midcoast Maine via Vassar that made every man who laid eyes on her fall rapturously in love.  Her attractiveness is indisputable, but photographs give no hint of it.  Maybe it was her luminous green eyes, maybe the glint of her copper-toned, short, bobbed hair. 

     Settled with her sister Norma in rooms on Waverly Place, she set out to be the Newest of New Women, that shocking breed avidly chronicled by the press, who caroused with men in bars, talked foully, and even smoked.  The transition took a bit of effort.  Years later Norma told how the two of them practiced profanity, reciting a litany of words that scraped their genteel ears, as they sat darning socks (yes, these free-spirited damsels darned socks): “Needle in, shit.  Needle out, piss.  Needle in, fuck.  Needle out, cunt.”  Soon they had a rich four-letter vocabulary and, with effort, grew easy with its use.  Their life in the Village thereafter was, in Edna’s own words, “very, very poor and very, very merry.”

     What was she like in those days?  Her friend Dorothy Thompson, a noted journalist, described her as mercurial: whimsical sometimes, sometimes petulant and imperious, sometimes stormy, sometimes “a lost and tragic soul,” but always intelligent and able to evoke “the most passionate and tender love.”  Not one easy to live with, it would seem, which was just as well, since she had no intention of settling down for long with anyone.

     When not wreaking amorous havoc among Villagers, Edna St. Vincent was writing plays and poetry.  While still in school she had won acclaim for her poem “Renascence,” written when she was only nineteen.  In rhymed octosyllables, it describes a succession of moods that the narrator experiences while standing on a mountaintop and looking out from there, moods that include an evocation of death and burial, followed by rebirth or “renascence.”  Recently I have reread it several times and think it her finest work.  The volume I have is my partner Bob’s first edition, dated 1917, containing “Renascence” and other poems, which his free-thinking father gave Bob when he was still in high school.

     Her next volume brought her notoriety:

                           My candle burns at both ends;
                           It will not last the night;

                           But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
                           It gives a lovely light!

Published in 1920, A Few Figs from Thistles candidly expressed female sexuality and what today we call “feminism.”  Hailed by the press as a shining example of the liberated Village woman, Edna St. Vincent gloried in it; more lovers flocked, some of whom even proposed, only to be resolutely rejected.  It was the field she wanted to play, not a closeted twosome, and women were welcome, too.  A tomboy, she had been called “Vincent” by her family when she was growing up.

     In December 1919 her experimental play Aria da Capo played to sold-out audiences at the Provincetown Playhouse.  A comedic harlequinade with Edna directing and Norma in the lead, it then darkened into an anti-war commentary, and was praised by the New York Times critic Alexander Woollcott as the best play currently running in the city – praise indeed, given Woollcott’s reputation for vitriolic reviews, though he knew the author only as Nancy Boyd, the nom de plume she adopted so she could earn a few bucks writing pop fiction for magazines without compromising her career as a serious poet.

     Even the Village couldn’t hold her.  Writing satirical sketches for Vanity Fair, in January 1921 she took off for that mecca of American expatriates, Paris, where one could love freely, live cheaply, do the drugs of your choice, and imbibe liquor that didn’t come to you courtesy of gangsters – in short, a place that for wild, free living topped even Greenwich Village.  She settled for a string of affairs, including a brief one with the mannish American sculptor Thelma Wood. 

     After gadding about in Europe for a couple of years, she returned to New York in 1923, the year when her volume won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, being the third woman to win the award.  In that same year she married the middle-aged Dutch businessman and playboy Eugen Boissevain in what must have been a wide-open marriage, since both continued to have numerous affairs.  So the Village wanton, while still wanton, felt the need of marital support.  And she got it.  Boissevain, a source of quiet strength, also provided financial security, nursed her through illnesses and breakdowns (of which there were many), and managed her career, arranging readings and public appearances that further advanced her reputation as a poet.  They settled down in a three-story brick row house at 75½ Bedford Street, a house that I have walked past often, whose “1/2” indicates its status, beloved of tour guides, as the narrowest house in New York City (less than ten feet wide). 

     “Settled down” is hardly appropriate, since the newlyweds rarely graced the house’s narrow confines.  After a honeymoon that took them around the world, in 1925 Boissevain bought Steepletop, a 600-acre blueberry farm in Columbia County in upstate New York, where they lived in an old frame farmhouse, built a barn, a writing cabin, and a tennis court, and the poet grew her own vegetables in a small garden.  Though they refused for years to install a telephone, she was not a total recluse; from this refuge she occasionally made forays to give poetry readings, including on the radio.  Many a male, upon hearing her read, was smitten.  Then in 1933 she and her husband also acquired Ragged Island in Casco Bay, Maine, where they retreated for the summer. 

     Hailed by some as the greatest woman poet since Sappho, she continued to publish volumes of poetry, often including sonnets that reviewers gushed over, hailing them as on a par with the sonnets of Browning, Rossetti, Petrarch, Shakespeare, and other luminaries of the poetic universe, while a few detractors found them manufactured, with inflated rhetoric lacking in true feeling.  Consider the first eight lines of this well-known sonnet:

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

     That this flaming redhead of the Village, this promiscuous New Woman, should write sonnets, and lots of them at that, is significant, for this is the most traditional, rhyme-laden, and strictest of old-hat genres, and one that, as her talent matured, she might have jettisoned with contempt.  On the contrary, her reputation rests in large part on the genre.  If it was good enough for Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Milton, and company (though maybe we’d better leave out Milton), she presumably opined, it was good enough for her.  But personally I’m inclined to agree with the critic who viewed her as a twentieth-century romantic expressing herself in a nineteenth-century vehicle.  There is nothing gutsy or raw in her poetry, nothing to compare, for example, with Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

     Still, in her heyday she was widely read, almost a cult figure on a par with Sylvia Plath at a later date.  My mother, a young college-educated and quite respectable professional in Chicago, still unmarried, was of Millay’s generation, loved poetry, had herself written poetry in college, and read Millay avidly, which for me is the clincher.  My mother’s taste was formed by the Victorians and Romantics she had absorbed in school – Tennyson, Browning, Wordsworth, and the lot.  She knew little of Whitman or Dickenson, and nothing of Pound or Eliot, but took to Millay’s poetry with abandon; as I recall, she even had a first edition of one of Millay’s early volumes (one that, in spite of a diligent search, I have failed to locate among my many dusty books).  If my respectable mother was a fan of this wanton, then Edna St. Vincent the poet, in spite of her lurid private life, was “safe”: a twentieth-century poet (and often a good one) in uncontroversial nineteenth-century garb.

     A dedicated pacifist during Word War I, Millay was a vigorous supporter of the Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and got arrested in Boston while protesting their execution for a murder they claimed they had not committed.  In the 1930s she turned away from personal lyricism and more and more toward social consciousness, and devoted herself to the war effort in World War II.  For this she reaped much scorn, her patriotic poetry being disparaged by literary critics who, like her readers, preferred the daring young poet of Greenwich Village who burned her candle at both ends.  A has-been?  Alas, for many, yes. 

     Her husband – he was still around, and they were still living in the  farmhouse at Steepletop – died of lung cancer in 1949; his loss devastated her.  Our final impression of her in the last year of her life shows the woman who once was the toast of Greenwich Village, and who had had more lovers than she could count, living on alone in the isolated house, suffering from mental and physical afflictions, drinking too much, but determinedly working on yet another manuscript of poetry.  On October 19, 1950, a caretaker found her collapsed at the foot of a stairway; she had died some eight hours before of a heart attack, age 58.  Today a death at 58 seems premature, but the intensity of her living and her passionate commitment to writing may have had a hand in it.

     After her death Millay’s sister Norma and her husband moved into the farmhouse and in 1973 established the Millay Colony for the Arts; when Norma became a widow in 1976, she continued to run the program until she died in 1986.  Farmhouse and grounds have since become a museum open to the public, and Edna and Norma and their husbands are buried on its grounds.  So ended two women who in their youth had been vibrant participants in the wild scene of Greenwich Village in the Roaring Twenties. 

     Millay’s reputation had been in tatters since the 1930s for a romanticism that seemed passé in the age of Modernism (think Eliot, Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Auden), but it came into its own again with the rise of feminism.  Romantic though she was, in her amorous escapades she expressed a decidedly female point of view, and that wasn’t passé at all; it was a welcome blast of the New.

     My poems:  For five acceptable poems, click here and scroll down.  To avoid five terrible poems, don't click here.  For my poem "The Other," inspired by the Orlando massacre, click here.

     My books:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received these awards: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  For the Reader Views review by Sheri Hoyte, go here.  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), my historical novel about a young male prostitute in the late 1860s in New York who falls in love with his most difficult client, is likewise available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Product Details 

     Coming soon:  Robert M. Morgenthau, the legendary prosecutor who pursued both crime in the streets and crime in the suites (meaning white-collar crime), with memories of John Lennon's murder; Bernhard Goetz, the subway vigilante; and the Central Park jogger case.

     ©   2016   Clifford Browder

Thursday, July 21, 2016

245. Who Really Runs America? David Rockefeller?

This post is a reblog of post #89, originally published on September 29, 2013.  It is the second most visited post since the blog began in 2012, topped only by post #136 on Cardinal Spellman, which was reblogged recently as post #241.  Be sure to read the three comments at the end.  A note on some recently published poems and two of my books conclude the post.

     On WBAI recently (where else?) I heard nutritionist Gary Null, who also comments on current affairs, expound seriously on a vast conspiracy of corporate and military powers who constitute a shadowy permanent government of this country and really rule it, our elected officials being their pawns or dupes.  Prominent among these sinister figures he named David Rockefeller, the aging patriarch of that clan, whom I and many know only as the banker brother of the late Nelson Rockefeller, the forty-ninth governor of New York State (1959-1973) and the forty-first vice president of the U.S. (1974-1977) under President Gerald Ford. 

     Having heard vaguely of such theories before, I decided to look into David Rockefeller and his possible implication in such a conspiracy.  I am no friend of conspiracy theories but cannot deny that important things happen that we ordinary citizens only learn about later, if even then.  So who is David Rockefeller and what has he been up to?  I launch my little investigation with no expertise whatsoever and with access only to information available to the public.

     He was of course a banker, and this makes him suspect at once.  We Americans profess to dislike bankers, since we think of them as fat cats with too much money who are not inclined to share it with the rest of us who have too little.  This prejudice – and it is a prejudice – has seeped deep into our popular entertainments.  Long ago, when the soaps were making their last stand on radio, I recall how, when the writers of Ma Perkins needed a villain in the little town of Rushville Center, they trotted out the local banker, who was referred to not as Mr. So-and-So, but Banker So-and-So.  And our recent financial convulsion and its ongoing aftermath, brought on in large part by misbehaving banks, haven’t exactly enhanced the profession’s reputation.  Still, with noble intent I shall push this bias to one side and proceed as objectively as possible.  So what kind of a guy is David Rockefeller, and what are his connections to this alleged conspiracy?

A sitting room at 10 West 54th Street.
Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

     He is a son of John D., Jr., who, as I mentioned in a recent post, built Rockefeller Center at his own expense, and a grandson of old John D., the Standard Oil mogul and founder of the family fortune.  David was born in New York City in 1915 in his father’s sumptuous residence at 10 West 54th Street, then the largest private residence in the city, and one full of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art collected by his father, not to mention a whole floor devoted to his mother’s private modern art gallery.  In his bedroom at one time were the famous Unicorn Tapestries now at the Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park, near the northern tip of Manhattan. 

     Much of David Rockefeller’s childhood was spent at Kykuit, a 40-room neoclassical mansion on a 250-acre family estate near Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County, N.Y., where he recalls visits by General George C. Marshall, Admiral Byrd, and Charles Lindbergh.  And for summer vacations there was the family’s 100-room house on Mount Desert Island, Maine.  Yes, a privileged childhood with wealth and connections right from the start, though he and his siblings were raised strictly, as his father had been before him.

File:Kykuit 10.JPG
Kykuit, seen from the south.

     The Rockefellers and art:  David Rockefeller’s father, John D., Jr., was a passionate collector of traditional art of the past, while his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (David’s mother), was just as passionate a collector of modern art, which her husband professed to despise.  She was one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in 1929, and persuaded her husband to donate land on 53rd and 54th Street for the present MOMA, which opened in 1939.  To make room for the new museum, John D., Jr., demolished both his sumptuous residence at 10 West 54th Street, and his deceased father’s palatial mansion at 4 West 54thStreet; in their place today is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.  The Rockefellers have been affiliated with MOMA ever since.  But if Abby’s modern art collection found a home at MOMA, her husband’s medieval collection went to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

     His education:  He graduated cum laude from Harvard, did postgraduate work in economics there and at the London School of Economics, and got a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, his dissertation entitled “Unused Resources and Economic Waste.”  My take so far: this was no playboy, and no slouch either.  He had a mind and put it to good use.

     For eighteen months he served as secretary to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at a dollar a year, and then worked for the U.S. Office of Defense, Health, and Welfare Services.  When we entered the war he attended Officer Candidate School and became an officer in the Army, working in North Africa and France (he spoke fluent French) for military intelligence.  Serving as well for seven months as an assistant military attaché at the U.S. embassy in Paris, he made use of family and Standard Oil contacts and established contacts of his own that proved useful thereafter.  Even so, an exemplary career and nothing that I find objectionable.  In the military as in business, there’s nothing inherently wrong with developing a network of contacts.

     In 1946 he went to work for the Chase National Bank, with which his family had long been associated.  Beginning as a lowly assistant manager, he worked his way up through the ranks, developing relationships with correspondent banks throughout the world, and finally became president and CEO.  In 1955 he persuaded the bank to erect its new headquarters in the Wall Street area, thus helping revitalize the downtown financial district, which other companies had deserted for locations farther uptown.  In 1960 the new sixty-story building opened at One Chase Manhattan Plaza on Liberty Street, then the biggest bank building in the world.

File:One Chase Manhattan Plaza.jpg

     Under David Rockefeller’s leadership Chase spread internationally and became a major force in the world’s financial system, with some fifty thousand correspondent banks, more than any other bank in the world.  He even opened a branch at One Karl Marx Square near the Kremlin and established relations with the National Bank of China.  Trouble came in 1979 when, along with his friend Henry Kissinger and others, he persuaded President Jimmy Carter to admit the deposed Shah of Iran for hospital treatment in the U.S., an action that precipitated the Iran hostage crisis and brought him under media scrutiny for the first time in his life.

     Now a major political and financial figure and a moderate Republican, he had relations with every U.S. President from Eisenhower on, and at times served as an unofficial emissary on high-level diplomatic missions.  In 1968, when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, his brother Nelson, then Governor of New York, wanted to appoint David Rockefeller to the vacant senate seat, but he turned the offer down.  Subsequently  President Carter offered to make him Secretary of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Chairman, but he turned those offers down as well.  Clearly, with all his worldwide contacts he preferred a private role, well removed from the publicity and brouhaha of politics.  Which of course has made him a natural target for conspiracy theorists of every stripe and hue.

File:Eleanor Roosevelt with David Rockefeller,Trygvie Lie, and Thomas J.Watson - NARA - 195929.jpg
A young David Rockefeller with Eleanor Roosevelt,
Trygvie Lie, the first Secretary General of the U.N.,
and IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson, 1953.

     His contacts over the years included Henry Kissinger, a personal friend; Allen Dulles and his brother John Foster Dulles; former CIA director Richard Helms; Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., and his cousin Kermit Roosevelt, both involved with the CIA; and countless others.  Who, indeed, didn’t he know among the rich and powerful?  All of which, again, has made him a natural and inevitable target for conspiracy theorists.

     Throughout his life he was involved with numerous policy groups that were concerned with domestic and international problems: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; the International Executive Service Corps, promoting prosperity and stability through private enterprise in underdeveloped regions of the world; the Partnership for New York City, a group of CEOs seeking to promote the city as a global center of commerce, culture, and innovation; the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential foreign-policy think tank with some 4700 members; the Trilateral Commission, an organization of leaders in the private sector founded by him and committed to discussion of issues of global concern; and the Bilderberg Group, an annual conference of political leaders and experts from various fields to discuss major issues facing the world.  All this, while becoming the family patriarch and looking after a fortune that came to him mostly through trusts set up by his father, and that is estimated at $2.8 billion, which makes him #193 in the current Forbes 400 List of the richest people in America.

File:Investcorp HashimKirdarRockefeller.png
On a visit to Abu Dhabi in 1980, shaking hands with Jawad 
Hashim, President of the Arab Monetary Fund.

     If one goes online, where conspiracy theories run wild, one can easily find websites warning that so-called Globalists are working secretly to establish a one-world government that will suppress national sovereignty and individual liberties and rule the world.  Who are these nefarious individuals?  International bankers, the super rich, the elite, members of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and other mysterious, secretive, suspect organizations, including the Illuminati, an 18th-century secret society in Bavaria that opposed superstition, prejudice, and the influence of religion in public life, and that supposedly survives to this day.  Among today’s suspect elite, obviously, David Rockefeller looms large, albeit at the age of 98.  These power mongers, these “banksters” are everywhere, theorists assert; they manipulate everything, they will destroy the world as we know it. 

     And what does David Rockefeller say to these charges?  In his autobiography Memoirs, published in 2002, he observes:  “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with [Fidel] Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions.  Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing me and my family as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will.  If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it” (Memoirs, p. 405).

     “Aha!” cry many conspiracy theorists, seeing this statement as a brazen confirmation of their charges.  But Rockefeller has in no way confessed to participation in a conspiracy, only to advocating a “more integrated global political and economic structure.”  He then goes on to see his critics as influenced by Populism, and observes that Populists believe in conspiracies and consider him the “conspirator in chief.”  He insists that the Rockefellers’ international role during the past half century has produced tangible benefits like the defeat of Soviet Communism, and improvements in societies around the world as a result of global trade, improved communications, and greater interaction of people from different countries. 

     So far, I think the defense of this “proud internationalist” sounds valid.  David Rockefeller one of the Illuminati?  Why not throw in the Hitlerjungen and the Ku Klux Klan as well?  Except that, so far as I know, those groups lacked international connections and therefore might be allies of the conspiracy crowd.  Rockefeller was certainly a lord of think tanks, but that doesn’t make him and them a clutch of conspirators.  The conspiracy gang  whom I have encountered online – and they are legion – strike me as paranoid; frankly, they are just plain nuts.

     So let’s escape from cloud cuckoo land and enter the realm of possibility.  Not all Rockefeller’s critics allege a worldwide conspiracy; rather, they see a shadowy permanent government that really runs this country, with whom our elected Presidents have to come to terms.  Gary Null seems to be one of this tribe, though I’d need to know more about his views to be certain.  But there are other voices of the Progressive Left whom I have to take seriously.  Noam Chomsky has argued that the Trilateral Commission’s report The Crisis of Democracy, proposing solutions for the “excess of democracy” characteristic of the 1960s, embodies “the ideology of the liberal wing of the state capitalist ruling elite.”  He sees the Commission as advocating “more moderation in democracy,” a more passive and obedient citizenry less inclined to put undue restraints on government.  He also asserts that the Commission had an undue influence on the administration of President Jimmy Carter. 

File:Jimmy Carter hosts Trilateral Commission Meeting - NARA - 179812.tif
President Carter hosting the Trilateral Commission, 1978.
Rockefeller must have been there, probably in the first row.

     Whether I fully agree with Chomsky I’m not sure, but I listen to him.  The Trilateral Commission is a creation of David Rockefeller, so any criticism of it implies criticism of its founder.  Chomsky’s assertions aren’t all over the place, sniffing out conspirators everywhere; he is focused in his attack and raises questions well worth pondering. 

     So where do I end up?  David Rockefeller has had a vast network of connections and has no doubt wielded tons of influence, perhaps at times too much.  He has shunned the public arena, prefers quiet private conferences, is never flamboyant, eschews attention-getting gestures, is really quite quiet, even colorless.  (Eschew: I love this word, even if it sounds like a sneeze.)  But that doesn’t make him a conspirator or a nefarious person.  He’s only one of many of the elite exerting influence on our government and society.  Confirming my impression of him as an individual are reminiscences of him by my partner Bob’s doctor, who long ago met Rockefeller and conversed with him on several occasions.  He found him very knowledgeable, very personable, unassuming, and easy to relate to, which is remarkable, given his privileged childhood.

    Yet if Rockefeller or his associates are promoting the free-trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being secretly negotiated now, then I have to agree that they are potentially eroding our national sovereignty.  According to certain leaked documents, the TPP would exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations, and let them challenge those laws and regulations as being unfair practices in restraint of trade.  Our hard-won regulations on clean air and clean water, for instance, could be imperiled, not to mention countless other measures, and this worries me a lot.  And if Rockefeller isn’t personally involved in promotion of the TPP (he is, after all, 98), like-minded people of great influence certainly are.  And the general public is barely aware, if at all, of what is going on.  Whether it involves a conspiracy or not, the TPP merits scrutiny and should be fought tooth and nail, unless its proposed provisions are radically revised.  So score one – and a big one – for David Rockefeller’s more responsible critics, among them Gary Null.

File:Leaders of TPP member states.jpg
Leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership member states, 2010.  Guess who's beaming, right smack
 in the middle?  No, it's not David Rockefeller.
Gobierno de Chile

     Even so, my impression of the Rockefeller clan is favorable.  They have long since risen above their robber baron origins, which were tainted with labor strife, to become philanthropists and patrons of the arts on a grand scale.  John D., Sr., gave millions to worthy causes and created the Rockefeller and other foundations; John D., Jr., created Rockefeller Center at his own expense, and with his wife helped launch the Museum of Modern Art; and David’s brother Nelson, as Governor, built the magnificent Empire State Plaza in Albany, and in his will left his interest in Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, so that it is now open to the public.  (For Rockefeller Center, see post #87, From Ghosts to Grandeur: Fifth Avenue; for the Empire State Plaza, see post #18, Upstate vs. Downstate: The Great Dichotomy.)  All in all, this city, state, and nation owe them a lot.


  1. Sorry to say, but you're too naive. This family has oppressed everything in sight for decades, centuries in fact. You think if they gave some dozens of millions to 'charitable causes', that evens the score? They are the Illuminati! They literally 'manufacture' money for Christ's sake! And the list of 'Richest People In The World' isn't even true at all. It's a giant lie. This Circle is tremendously influential and cover up their tracks effortlessly.
    1. I understand where you're coming from, Anonymous, and I welcome your comment, but I hold to my approval of the clan's later doings, which benefit the public. If you look closely at the most enlightened benefactors, you'll always find plenty of warts. I give the Rockefellers some slack, that's all. Well, at least we agree about trees. And you're from my home town, Evanston. Did you go to ETHS? I attended a gathering of graduates last fall right here in New York.
  2. bro you are CLUELESS. we know this EVIL demonic clan supported hitler during the war indirectly supplying him oil, we know that they funded the US neo-con movement birthed from socialism, supported the federal reserve, they funded bolshevik communism, their oil company(ies) have funded missionaries to latin america to remove natives from land they wanted ("thy will be done"), they've supported tyrants and genocide the world over for power and profit, along with many other american and international elitists, working with and through CIA and other fascist entities/secret societies. at least do some research what the Promethean torch at 1 rockefeller plaza actually means, along with the art surrounding it. someone who has a clue:


         My poems:  For five acceptable poems, click here and scroll down. To avoid five terrible poems, don't, for God's sake, don't click here.

         My books:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received two awards: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction, and first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards.  For the Reader Views review by Sheri Hoyte, go here.  (It also got an honorable mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, but that hardly counts.)  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

    The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), my historical novel about a young male prostitute in the late 1860s in New York who falls in love with his most difficult client, is likewise available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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           Coming soon:  The New Woman who became the toast of free-living Greenwich Village in the 1920s, lured men by the dozen to her bed, and got a Pulitzer for Poetry.  The post will start with a limerick.  

           ©   2016  Clifford Browder