NATHAN’S IS 100

This year an American institution turns 100.  Hot dogs are the quintessential American food, and Nathan’s Famous has come to symbolize hot dogs.   Currently, according to “Newsday” the Jericho, NY-based company has some 260 franchised locations in 23 states and nine foreign countries, but it all began with one tiny hot dog stand, an idea, and a special family recipe.  The rags to riches story of Nathan’s Famous is a microcosm of the story of America – a poor, first-generation immigrant (Nathan Handwerker) has an idea, and through hard work, foresight and, yes, some good luck, creates a business so successful, it becomes an institution.   Although there have been several examples of this throughout American history not many of them have been the equal of Nathan and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.

Nathan Handwerker was born in Galicia on June 14, 1892.  Galicia is located in present-day Poland near its border with Ukraine.  Nathan was one of 13 children of a Jewish shoemaker.  It’s fair to say that the family was destitute.  In 1912 Nathan emigrated to the US  and settled in Brooklyn.  At first, he worked at various odd jobs, whatever he could find to provide for himself, but, eventually, he landed a job slicing bread at Feltman’s German Gardens, a restaurant in Coney Island.   One of Feltman’s products was hot dogs, which it sold for 10 cents each.

At some point Nathan decided to go into business for himself, so he and his wife invested their entire life savings, $300, and opened a small hot dog stand.  How small was it?  Well, the grill was only two feet long, and there was no seating area.  It didn’t even have a real name.  It was located on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, where it still is today.

There are many stories as to how the business began – some accurate, some not.  For example, according to UPI two singing waiters you may have heard of named Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor, encouraged him.  They may have had some role, but how much is anybody’s guess.  The company’s own official history omits that particular story, but it sounds good.   Another story, which might be folklore, is that he named his stand “Nathan’s Hot Dogs” in 1921  after a Sophie Tucker hit song: “Nathan, Nathan, Why You Waitin.”  Not sure about that one either.

Nathan was superb at marketing his product.  First of all, he undercut Feltman’s by selling his hot dogs for 5 cents each.  Secondly, he let it be known that his hot dogs included a secret ingredient from his wife’s family’s recipe.  Thirdly, he never skimped on quality and made sure his customers knew it.  In those days of looser laws regarding food and drugs, much of the public was suspicious of what ingredients might be in hot dogs (and often with good reason).  Nathan feared that his low price might make some customers wary of the quality.  In order to allay these concerns, supposedly, he arranged for some customers to be seen eating his hot dogs while wearing doctors’ smocks, to provide a silent endorsement of the high quality of the product.

Perhaps, the best marketing strategy, however, is the annual hot dog eating contest.  This has been held at the original location every year since the 1970s.  After a modest beginning, it is now televised by ESPN.  Contestants consume as many hot dogs as they can in ten minutes.  Invariably, the winner is not huge, but a person of average size, proving once again that technique is everything.  The current champion is Matt “Megatoad” Stonie.

The business was a rousing success.  A second location was established in Oceanside, LI in 1959, and a third in Yonkers, NY in 1968.  Additional expansion followed under the direction of Nathan’s son, Murray.  In 2015, total revenue was nearly $100 million, which was four times that of a decade ago.  Meanwhile, the original location is still going strong, although it is considerably larger.  It is open every day, only closing once, for one day in the aftermath of “Super Storm Sandy.”

Nathan’s does not rely solely on its standalone stores.  It has many outlets in cinemas, college campuses, retail stores, ballparks, and convenience stores.  In fact, approximately one-half of Nathan’s profits are now derived from retail outlets.  Former company president, Wayne Norbitz, opines that this diversity has been a key element in the Company’s substantial growth.  According to Norbitz “you don’t have to build a building to sell a hot dog.”  Makes sense to me.  Less fixed costs, among other things.

Brand awareness is another crucial element in the company’s astounding success.  Says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for market researcher NPD Group: “Everybody knows Nathan’s Famous, whether they live on the East Coast or not.  They’ve done a good job of building awareness and customer loyalty.”

CONCLUSION

Nathan died on March 24, 1974 of a heart attack at the age of 81.  As an illustration of his considerable contribution to Americana and, more specifically, New York City, he was named to NYC’s “top 100,” placing him in the rarified company of luminaries such as Joe Namath, Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie and Joe DiMaggio.  He may be gone, but the company he created lives on, bigger and better than ever.

Some Nathan’s fun facts:

  1.  Some early customers were Eddie Cantor, Al Capone, Jimmy Durante, and an aspiring actor named Archibald Leach.
  2. FDR, a big fan, once served Nathan’s Famous to the King and Queen of England.  Also, he had some sent to him at Yalta in 1945 when he was at his famous meeting with Churchill and Stalin.
  3. NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller was quoted as saying “No man can hope to be elected in his state without being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous.”
  4. Barbra Streisand once had some Nathan’s Famous delivered to her in London for a private party.
  5. One “Seinfeld” episode centered around a tip to Nathan’s.
  6. Ex-NYC mayor, Rudy Giuliani is also a big fan.   He has called Nathan’s the “World’s best hot dog.”
  7. Jackie Kennedy served them at the White House.
  8. In accordance with his instructions Nathan’s Famous hot dogs were served at Walter Mathau’s funeral.
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MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day.  To many of them MD is merely a day off from work, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation.  But, how many of us actually stop and ponder the meaning of MD?  What does it mean?  What is its derivation?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Read on.

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country.  (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.)  MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 30.  It has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer, Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes.

The original name for MD was “Decoration Day.”  The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is centuries old.  Its origins are murky, but after the Civil War it became customary to “decorate” soldiers’ graves with flowers as a way to honor those who had died in that war.

Several cities claim to be the birthplace of MD.  Warrenton, Va. claims that the first CW soldier’s grave was decorated there in 1861.  Women began decorating soldiers’ graves in Savannah, Ga. as early as 1862.  Boalsburg, Pa. and Charleston, SC, among others, have also made claims.  NY became the first state to recognize MD as an official holiday in 1873.  In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace of MD.

The basis of Waterloo’s claim is that in 1865 a group of locals, including a pharmacist, Henry Welles, General John Murray, a CW hero, and a group of other veterans, simply marched to the local cemeteries and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers.  What gave Waterloo an edge in the birthplace battle was that Murray was an acquaintance of General John Logan, the general who issued “Logan’s Order, ” the proclamation that declared “Decoration Day” should be celebrated annually nationwide.

At first, MD was celebrated on May 30 every year.  The date seems somewhat arbitrary as it was not the anniversary of any famous battle or military event.  Perhaps, it was chosen simply because flowers with which the graves are decorated are in bloom and plentiful at that particular time of the year.  The name, “Decoration Day” was gradually replaced by MD beginning in 1882, and in 1887 MD became the official name.  In 1968 the Congress moved the holiday to the last Monday in May.  This annoyed many traditionalists, but the lure of a three-day weekend overcame any objections, and the Monday date has prevailed.

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

1.  Flying the flag at half-staff.

Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper.  The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff.  This is intended to honor those who have died for their country.  At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day.  This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.

2.  Poppies.

Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920.  This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”).  Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around soldiers’ graves.  These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.”  This poem caught people’s imagination and popularized the custom.

3.  Sporting Events.

No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection.  MD has the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others.  Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader. Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday doubleheaders are all but extinct.

CONCLUSION

I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD.  So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

 

EXPRESSIONS, IDIOMS AND MISQUOTES

We all use expressions and idioms in our daily lives, such as “the whole kit and caboodle, “doubting Thomas,” “gung ho,” and many, many more.  But, did you ever stop and think about their derivation?  After all, when taken literally, most of them do not make any sense.  Are they derived from old songs, literature, superstitions, or did they just come into general usage at some point?  Well, my research has indicated that the answer is some of each.  Below please find a selection of expressions and idioms and their derivations.  In addition, for fun, I have added some misquotes, i.e. quotes that are commonly attributed erroneously.

  1.  “Doubting Thomas” –  a real oldie, supposedly derived from Apostle Thomas in the New Testament who was always questioning things and needed convincing.
  2. “An albatross (around one’s neck) –   derived from Samuel Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  A mariner kills an albatross, and, thereafter, the ship is plagued with bad luck.
  3. “Bite the Bullet” – Before the advent of anesthetics a patient would sometimes be required literally to bite on a bullet during an operation in order to withstand the pain and not swallow his tongue.
  4. “Be careful what you wish for” – According to an ancient superstition the gods might hear your wish and grant it in an unpleasant way.
  5. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” – When purchasing a horse it was a common practice to open its mouth and check its teeth to ascertain the horse’s general health.
  6. “Yankee Doodle” – This well-known song dates back to the 1760’s.  Today, it is considered a patriotic song, and it is even the state anthem of Connecticut.  Originally, however, it was sung by British troops during the Revolutionary War in derision to mock the colonials, which they considered to be a disheveled, disorganized and rag-tag lot.  In defiance, the colonials adopted it as a patriotic song.  It is believed the tune was derived from a nursery rhyme entitled Lucy Locket, and it was put to words by a British army surgeon upon observing colonial troops.  The word “doodle” is from either the German “dodel,” meaning “fool” or “simpleton” or the German word “dudel,” meaning “playing music badly.”  “Macaroni” is a reference to “macaroni” wigs, which were fashionable in the 1770s but became slang for “foppishness.”   A “dandy” was a derisive term for a man who wore excessively fancy attire and exhibited feminine traits.
  7. “Bought the farm” – This is one of many whose derivation is in dispute. I believe it is derived from the US military in the early 20th century.  Many returning soldiers would retire to the farm.  Therefore, if they were KIA it was said they “bought the farm (early).”  Another version holds that if a serviceman were KIA his family would receive a life insurance payout, which could be used to pay off the mortgage on the farm.
  8.  “Bite the dust” –  Some claim this originated with the Scottish author, Tobias Smolett in his  tale the “Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane”  Others claim it was first used by Homer in “Illiad” in 700 BC.  Still others reference the Bible, which contains the phrase “lick the dust.”  In any event, it was popularized by Hollywood, which often used the phrase in Westerns when someone (usually an outlaw) was killed.  There is also the popular song “Another One Bites the Dust,” which refers not to actual death, but to marriage.  (No comment, although the inference is clear.)
  9. “Gee Whiz” – Although it is used now as a bland exclamation of surprise, the word “gee” in its various forms is a shortening of a reference to ” Jesus” as an oath.  At one time, it was considered blasphemous to print “Jesus” or “Christ” in the context of an oath.  These phrases began to appear in print in the 1870s.
  10. “The Whole Kit and Caboodle” –  Various versions of this expression have appeared in literature for centuries.  According to Grose’s “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” (1811) the “whole kit” or “the whole kit and boodle” refers to the  entire contents of a soldier’s knapsack.  “Caboodle” is not in use anymore, except for in this expression.  According to the Dunkirk Observer-Journal (1888) boodle is derived from an Old English word “bottle,” which meant a bunch or a bundle.  Boodle is sometimes used to refer to a pile of money on a gaming table, and when a person has “lost his boodle” he has been wiped out.
  11. “Gung Ho” –  This expression is derived from the Chinese  words “kung,” which means work and “ho” (together).  In the US it was popularized by General Evans Carlson during WWII.
  12. “Get your goat” – This phrase began to appear in print in the early 20th century as an expression to make one angry.  Its origin is murky, but one semi-humorous, unauthenticated  version goes like this: At one time, goats were mingled with racehorses to keep them calm.  If one wanted to upset a racehorse, perhaps to gain a gambling edge, he would steal or “get,”the goat.
  13. “Easy as pie”  –  A US expression derived from the fact that pie was easy to eat (not bake).  There are various references in 19th century literature, such as Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
  14. “Loose cannon” –  Cannon on 17th, 18th and 19th century ships were secured with ropes to prevent their being tossed about during storms and battles.  If one were to get loose it would cause severe and unpredictable damage.  Although there is no documented case of this actually happening, this phrase has appeared in literature often beginning with Victor Hugo in the novel “Ninety Three” in 1874.
  15. “Barking up the wrong tree” –  Originally, this expression referred to hunting dogs barking around the bottom of a tree where they thought, mistakenly, their quarry was hiding.  It became popular in the US in the 1830s, appearing in newspapers and novels, such as James Kirke Paulding’s “Westward Ho.”

CONCLUSION

Finally, below please find some widely attributed quotes that were never actually said:

  1.  “Play it again Sam” –  What Bogie actually said in “Casablanca” was “you played it for her;  you can play it for me!  …Play it!”  Ingrid Bergman said “Play it Sam.”  “It” was “As Time Goes By.”
  2. “We are not amused.” – Based on what we know about Queen Victoria she might have and could have said that, but there is no evidence that she ever did.
  3. “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”   Close, and not to nit pick, but what Mae West actually said was “Why don’t you come up sometime, and see me?”
  4. “Elementary my Dear Watson” – Another close but no cigar (another of those expressions).   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, came close, but never actually said those exact words.
  5. “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”- Attributable to Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in the early movie versions, but he never said exactly that.
  6. “Beam me up, Scotty.” –  Close again, but Captain Kirk actually said “Beam us up, Mr. Scott.”
  7. “Come with me to the Casbah.” -The line was attributable to Charles Boyer in the 1938 movie, “Algiers,”  but he never said it.  The source of the misquote may have been because the line was present in an early trailer, but it never made to the movie.
  8. “You dirty rat.” – Cagney never said this.  What he said in 1932’s “Taxi” was “Come on out and take it you dirty, yellow-bellied rat or I’ll give it to ya through the door!”

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY

Chances are, unless you’re an aficionado of movies and movie stars from prior to 1950, if I were to mention the name James Cagney you would only know him as an old-time actor who played “tough guys.”  But, that would be akin to labeling Babe Ruth as a guy who could play a little baseball.  In reality, Cagney was so much more than just a movie tough guy as both a performer and as a person.

James Francis Cagney, Jr. was born on July 17, 1899 in New York City.   He was the second of seven children.  The family lived on the Lower East Side, which was home to predominantly poor Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants.  Two of his siblings died as infants, and James, himself, was so sickly as a young child that his mother was afraid he would meet the same fate.  Cagney often ascribed this early sickness to lack of adequate food due to his family’s extreme poverty.

However, Cagney survived.  After high school he briefly attended Columbia, intending to major in art, but he had to drop out due to the sudden death of his father from the flu in 1918.  (The devastating flu pandemic of 1918 was one of the greatest natural disasters in human history.  According to Wikipedia, estimates of the number of deaths attributable to it range as high as 100 million.)

Cagney worked at a wide variety of jobs to help support the family.  At times, he was a copy boy, architect, brokerage house “runner,”amateur boxer, bellhop, draftsman, and semi-professional baseball player.  Whatever the job and however little he earned he always made sure to give some money to the family.  He was such an accomplished boxer he was a runner-up for the NYS lightweight title.  In addition, he was a proficient tap dancer.  He had a habit of dancing on slanted cellar doors, which earned him the sobriquet, “Cellar-Door Cagney.”

As is often the case, his initiation into films was due to happenstance.  An aunt lived near a film studio where one of his brothers was performing.  When visiting this aunt he would often sneak in to watch the filming .  Eventually, he began to do odd jobs around the set, such handling the scenery.  Although he had no interest in actually performing, once, when his brother was ill he substituted for him.  Due to his photographic memory he performed the lines flawlessly.  Following that experience, he began to work for various movie companies in a variety of roles.

Cagney always claimed that he was naturally shy, but when performing he became someone else.  He was “not that fellow, Jim Cagney, at all.  I…lost all consciousness of him…”  One of his early roles was that of a female dancer in the musical Pitter Patter.  It was there that he met his future wife, another dancer named Frances Willard “Billie” Vernon.

The next stage of Cagney’s career was vaudeville, where he toured with a succession of troupes.  In one instance he replaced a performer named Archibald Leach.  If that name sounds vaguely familiar, you might know him as Cary Grant.  Another time, he met George M. Cohan, whom he would later portray in his signature role in Yankee Doodle Dandy.  In 1925 Cagney secured his first dramatic role as, what else, a tough guy not because of his acting ability, but simply because the producer wanted an actor with red hair, and Cagney’s hair was redder than any other actor’s who auditioned for the part.

After years of bouncing around in support roles Cagney became a star in The Public Enemy in 1931. In a strange turn of events Cagney was signed to play the role of the “nice-guy,” but after shooting began the director switched him to the role of the “tough-guy.”   In the signature scene of the movie Cagney mashes half a grapefruit into the face of his co-star, Mae Clarke, which, to this day, remains one of the most famous scenes in movie history.   Cagney received rave reviews.  For example, the New York Herald Tribune (remember it?)  characterized his performance as “…the most ruthless, unsentimental appraisal of the meanness of a petty killer the cinema has yet devised.”

The origin of the famous “grapefruit” scene is in dispute.  It was not in the original script.  The writers, the producer, and the actors have all claimed credit.  Cagney always said that for years thereafter he was offered free grapefruit in every restaurant.

Eventually, Cagney signed with Warner Brothers.  Like all studio heads of the day Jack Warner was an autocrat, used to getting his own way with entertainers.  It was common to overwork and underpay performers – 100 hours a week was not uncommon – and salaries were fixed regardless of the success of the movie.  Regardless of how  famous you might be, under the “studio system” you either toed the line or you didn’t work…anywhere.   However, Cagney’s stubborn and rebellious nature were more than a match for Warner.  He fought against Warner’s restrictions at every turn.  Warner tolerated him because of his popularity.  At one point, he simply quit.  Eventually, Warner gave in, and enhanced Cagney’s contract, probably a first in Hollywood.  Meanwhile, Cagney acquired a new sobriquet, “The Professional Againster.” During the 1930s Cagney became the studio’s biggest box office draw and highest earner –  one of the highest in all of Hollywood.

As Cagney became a megastar, he got involved in political causes.  He had always stood up for the down-trodden, a remnant of his poor roots.  In the late 1930’s he became involved with the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, which, unbeknownst to him, was actually a “front” for the Comintern, a communist organization.  In addition, his contractual disputes, his opposition to the so-called “Merriman Tax,” by which the studios withheld some of the actors’ salaries and contributed it to political candidates, his contribution to the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, and his involvement with the Screen Actors Guild (co-founder and president) all labeled him as a “radical” or worse, a communist.  (On the other hand, during WWII he repeatedly went on tours to entertain the troops.)  At one point he was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Eventually, he was exonerated of any wrong-doing.  Ironically, later in life Cagney’s politics evolved.  He became more conservative, even supporting Republicans Thomas E. Dewey and Ronald Reagan.

In 1942 Cagney played George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy, which many  critics consider his signature role.  The film was a huge success.  It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three, including Best Actor for Cagney.  Playing Cohan was ideal for Cagney.  He was able to show off all his talents – singing, dancing and acting.

His last famous role was in the movie, White Heat, in 1949 in which he played, what else, a psychotic killer.  In the climactic scene, cornered by the police, Cagney’s character climbs to the top of a wall and shouts “Made it, ma!  Top of the world!’ at  which point he dies in a hale of bullets.  That line was voted the 18th greatest movie line by the American Film Institute.

CONCLUSION

Cagney’s illustrious career spanned over 60 years from 1919 to 1984.  He was much more than just a movie tough-guy, which is how most casual fans view him.   He was also an accomplished singer and dancer.  He was one of the most popular actors during Hollywood’s “Golden Age.”  Furthermore, he was in the forefront of the battle for actors rights and helped found the Screen Actors Guild.  In 1974 Cagney was honored with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  In presenting the award Charlton Heston called Cagney “… one of the most significant figures of a generation when American film was dominant.”  In addition, no less a luminary than Orson Welles called him “…maybe the greatest actor to ever appear in front of a camera.”  Hyperbole?  Perhaps, but not by much.

A few of his other honorariums:

  1.  In 1984 President Reagan presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  2. In 1999 the US Postal Service issued a 33 cent stamp in his honor.
  3. In 2015 a musical of his life and career opened on “Broadway.”  I have seen it and it is fabulous.  I highly recommend it.

Just like Bogie never said “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca, Cagney never said “MMMmmm, you dirty rat,” a line that is often misquoted by comedians and impressionists.  What he did say in the movie, Taxi, was “Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to you through the door!”  Close enough for government work, …. or Hollywood.

James Cagney died on March 30, 1986 at the age of 86, but his legacy lives on.

 

 

LET THE HEALING BEGIN

And then there was one.

As most of you know, in the wake of Donald Trump’s recent convincing and decisive victory in the Indiana primary both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have suspended their campaigns, acknowledging that Trump is the “presumed nominee.”  Even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Rance Priebus, has anointed Trump as such.  Yesterday, Priebus tweeted party leaders pleading for unity, acknowledging that the race for the nomination is effectively over.  He tweeted “we need to unite and focus on defeating Hillary Clinton, #NeverClinton.”

Cruz’s and Kasich’s supporters are upset, but, in reality , they had no choice.  After Tuesday’s results their withdrawal became a matter of when, not if.  Their departure signals the end of the party insiders’ futile struggle to prevent Trump from gaining the nomination as symbolized by the “Never Trump” rallying cry.   There will not be a “brokered” convention with all the attendant drama and controversy.  Bad for the media, but good for the GOP.  Now that Trump’s nomination has become inevitable, it is time for the GOP to unite behind him.

Republicans who dislike, or even despise Trump, and there are many, must decide if they would rather have Trump in the Oval Office or suffer through four, or even eight, more years of progressive politics under the leadership of Hillary Clinton.  (Incidentally, when did the designation “liberal” morph into “progressive?”)

History buffs will see a parallel between the current situation and that of the Democrats in the 1960 election.  That year, the Dems were sharply divided.  In particular, southern Dems were bitterly opposed to JFK, who had won the nomination after a hard-fought battle against Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and others.  JFK and Johnson hated each other.  Yet, their mutual enmity paled beside their hatred of Richard Nixon.  As most of you know, for the good of the party and to give the Dems the best chance of winning, JFK and Johnson “buried the hatchet” and Johnson joined the ticket as VP.  Johnson delivered Texas, and JFK won an extremely close election.  Similarly, the Cruz and Kasich supporters and the “Never Trumps”must decide whether to support Trump, jump to Clinton, or sit it out.

Concurrently, Trump must work to unite the party and expand the base.  It’s simple math.   There are many more registered Democrats in this country than Republicans, so he is starting with a big deficit.  For example:

  1. He must soften his hard line on issues such as immigration to reassure Hispanics that he will not be deporting them by the millions.
  2. He must convince African Americans that he is sensitive to their plight, especially unemployment.   He will not get a large percentage of their vote no matter what he does or says, but he needs to get some.
  3. He has to continue toning down the nasty rhetoric; no more name calling.  In his acceptance speech he signaled his intent to do just that.  He heaped lavish raise on Cruz for suspending his campaign for the good of the party.  Furthermore, he called him a “tough, strong competitor, with an “amazing future.”  He needs to do more of that.
  4. He has to act more “presidential” than he has.  Rightly or wrongly, many perceive him as “dangerous,” “out of control,” or even a “maniac,” and they shudder at the thought of him in control of our nuclear arsenal.
  5. Perhaps, leaking the names of a few persons he is considering for VP, cabinet posts and/or Supreme Court nominations might assuage some people’s fears.

The Dems will face a similar dilemma.  Bernie Sanders won Indiana, and he shows no signs of giving up.  His campaign is on “life support,” but as long as he continues to fight he is a distraction to Clinton.  Most of the Sanders supporters hate Clinton.  Once Clinton clinches the nomination, which has always been inevitable, what will they do?  They will have the same three choices as the “Never Trumps.”

CONCLUSION

Both parties have endured acrimonious and divisive campaigns.  Now, the two nominees have been virtually decided.   The general election campaign will be commencing unofficially.  Both candidates have historically high unfavorables – according to the latest CBS poll, 57% for Trump and 52% for Clinton.  Furthermore, both will have to work to unite their respective parties so as to prevent defections to the other side.  Now, it will really get interesting.  The latest CNN/ORC poll shows Clinton ahead 54% to 41%, but history demonstrates that it is still very early in the campaign and the situation is likely to change.  Stay tuned.

WHO AM I?

The following is intended to be a “fun” blog that tests your knowledge of various topics from pop culture to American history.  See if you can identify the person described.  I tried to find a middle ground where you will be tested but not frustrated.  I hope I succeeded.

  1.  My real name was William, but I was known by my nickname.  I was a straight man in one of the most famous comedy teams ever.  I performed in vaudeville, on the radio, on tv and in the  movies.  My most famous comedy skit was about baseball.
  2. I had the shortest tenure of any US President.  I was the last president to have been born a British subject.  I was the grandfather of another president.  I was a renowned Indian fighter.  My most famous victory came at the Tippecanoe River.
  3. My real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.  I am a famous singer, but also an accomplished songwriter and actress.  I have won six Grammys and a Golden Globe.  I was Billboard’s “Woman of the Year” in 2015.
  4. I was born in PA, but I was constantly moving, seeking what I called “more elbow room.”  At one time I lived in what is now Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio , Missouri and Kentucky, among other places.  I was a famous explorer, pioneer and woodsman in the early 18th century.  I blazed the “Wilderness Road” through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains from Tennessee and North Carolina to Kentucky.  I was among the first white men to explore and settle in Kentucky.
  5. My real name is James Todd Smith, but everyone calls me by my famous nickname.  I have achieved notoriety as rapper, actor on tv and in the movies.  In one of my movie roles I jumped out of an airplane.  Currently, I am starring in an action show based in LA.
  6. My real name was Harry Lillis ******, but I am known by my distinctive nickname.  I was the best selling recording artist of the 20th century.  I was an Academy Award winner.  I co-starred in several “road” movies with a well-known comedian.
  7. I was a renowned bandleader, actor, producer and director.  I am best known for performing with my real life wife and two sons in a popular TV show that ran in the 1950s and 60s.  One son became a recording star in his own right.
  8. I was one of the founding fathers.  Before, during and after the Revolutionary War I was a valued diplomat, particularly in France.  Among my many inventions were a stove, which is named after me, and bifocals.  One of my famous quotes was “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
  9. My birth name is Cornelius Crane *****.  I am known by my nickname, which is the same name as a well-known town in Maryland.  After hitting it big on Saturday Night Live, I left to go on “vacation” with Beverly DeAngelo.
  10. I am the only person to have served as both US president and vice president without having been elected to either office.  Although I was often portrayed as being clumsy, I was actually an accomplished athlete in my youth.

ANSWERS:  1) Bud Abbott (Abbott and Costello).  2) William Henry Harrison (campaign slogan – “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”).  3) Lady Gaga.  4)  Daniel Boone; 5)  LL Cool J.  6) Bing Crosby. 7)  Ozzie Nelson; 8)  Benjamin Franklyn.  9) Chevy Chase. 10)  Gerald Ford.