Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

15 Responses

  1. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    I always think of Star Trek as the United Nations in outer space. It plainly did traffic in a lot of one-worldism, but only Birchers noticed it at the time. I find it funny that Kirk & crew violated their charter every week (or at least the episodes I saw). They meddled in the affairs of every planet they warped into, without fail. I recall Kirk (an interstellar Hef) telling the bemused residents of one just-“liberated” planet, “that strange feeling you’re experiencing right now is called freedom. I think you’ll get to like it.” Ah, the entire universe must be forced into freedom. Used to be, the old Trekkers would solemnly remind you that more of half of the episode titles came from Shakespeare (whom they most likely hadn’t read). Nimoy was an actor of limited range and, fortunately for him, Spock was his meal ticket for the rest of his life (sent up brilliantly by Alan Rickman in the underrated Galaxy Quest). My Star Trek birthday pick of the month is Grace Lee Whitney, who played one of the shapely nurses, whose best talents had been put to use a few years earlier in “Controlled Experiment,” the only comedic episode of The Outer Limits.

    “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” was possibly the best studio double album of the pre-CD rock era (The Allman Bros. At Fillmore East was the best live double album). If someone is playing slide on the Layla album, you can pretty much bet it was Duane Allman (RIP at 24, what happens when motorcycle meets peach truck). The title track was a thinly veiled tribute to George Harrison’s then wife (later Clapton’s) Patty Boyd. Incidentally, Patty can be seen in the train cargo compartment scene in Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night. She’s the prettiest one (some would say prettiest other than Paul McCartney).

  2. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    As for Denton True “Cy” Young, it is always difficult to compare players of different eras, but 511 victories speaks for itself. Also 345 losses, for a grand total of 856 decisions. Nowadays, an ace may only get 500 starts over 15 -20 year career. Still, I would have to pick The Big Train, Walter Johnson, as the greatest pitcher of all time. 417 wins in a career with the Washington Senators, for Pete’s sake. A good portion of his career was in the lively ball era, and, being in the American League, he saw the best of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx, among others, on a regular basis. Let the debate begin.

    Going back to Star Trek, the Chekhov character was clearly meant to provoke conservative outrage, by showing that a godless commie could be as virtuous as anyone. I’ve heard that in a recent film remake of the original series, Chekhov has been transformed into an incompetent drunk, you know, reflecting the retrograde nature of your average Christian Orthodox Putin voter. This is the kind of thing that sends so many conservatives to the proctologist’s office (h/t to Walker Percy).

  3. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Cobb certainly respected Johnson.

  4. Avatar Steven Lakoff says:

    You forgot Nimoy’s best work: His poetry. Warmed by Love and Old Fashioned Spaceman are two classics that will be read over and over by Trekkies. When I worked in a bookstore we had a Leonard Nimoy poetry event one slow April 1st. It was a hit with the employees.

    He was however in a very good episode of Colombo though, so I rate his career overall a bit higher than some for that alone.

  5. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    I think Nimoy and Shatner both made record albums. Many D-List celebrities did back in those days. If you collect records, a real top dollar find is Sebastian Cabot Sings Dylan (I think all of them covered at least one Dylan tune). I recall that Cabot did the songs in a sort of talking blues style. He was probably still playing Mr French at the time. Quite amusing to hear him sneering, “…threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?”

  6. Avatar Allen Wilson says:

    Sometimes I think Andrew Johnson should have been a Confederate, but I presume that there were personal reasons why he wasn’t.

    Duane or Greg Allman?

    Vlad the Impaler is a hero of our civilization.

    I was surfing YouTube a few months ago and came across a Turkish movie about the fall of The Queen of Cities. I only skipped through it, but at the end was a scene where the Greek women and children (no men or young boys if I remember correctly) were hiding in terror in Justinian’s great Hagia Sofia, and then the “Great” Mehmet entered, and softly let the Greek women and girls know they were safe, and then they were so relieved and no longer scared….. and the movie ended there. It was stomach turning, and enraging. What disgusting propaganda it was. Of course we all know that the Armenians were never treated badly either.

  7. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    Johnson was from East Tennessee, where there were a fair number of people who wanted to remain in the Union. The war memorial in Maryville, as I recall, lists about as many Union casualties as CSA. But I would leave it to someone like Clyde Wilson to say how large the Union presence in East Tennessee was. A lot of our nation’s court historians would have you believe the entire region was loyal to the Union, dragged against its will into the CSA.

    Duane Allman was the guitarist (along with Dickie Betts). Gregg played organ, and sang lead on most songs for the Allman Bros. Band. Gregg died a few years ago, the victim of too much hard living. Poor Cher, widowed twice: Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman.

  8. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Ken, perhaps you’d like to expatiate on Dickie Betts. I’ve been hearing stories for decades. Mike Hill used to know him, I believe. A bizarre character.

  9. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    His first name is Forrest, a name which, as you know, has but one source in the South. Otherwise, I only know the Wikipedia thumbnail: five wives, drugs, booze, and the only musician to be formally divorced by his band. Apparently, even Gregg thought he was too depraved. With a rap sheet like that, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” can only partially redeem the man.

  10. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Yes, I had heard all these, what we must not be too hard on a man who has been exposed to great temptations. Chesterton has a story about an opera soprano who made a few mistakes and commented on her greatness of soul and the temptations she had been subjected to. Betts was crazy, irascible, and abused a variety of substances, but I never heard of him oppressing the poor or grubbing too hard for money. Which would you rather meet, Dick[e[y Betts or Bill Gates?

  11. Avatar James D. says:

    In my opinion Dickie Betts made the Allman Brothers Band more than just another blues band. He brought a country edge to the band that made them unique. Atlanta’s Burning Down is a great solo album by Betts. Seven Turns, a later Allman’s track features Betts prominently and is one of the better of their later tracks. You can hear the mix of blues and country, which is what I loved about what Betts brought to the Allman Brothers. I tire quickly of straight blues.

  12. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    James D, good point. Dickie’s songs and vocals were a back country road on a sunny day, alongside Gregg’s boozy Whippin’ Post. Songs like Blue Sky, Ramblin’ Man, and the great instrumental Jessica still put me in a good mood. Let’s not forget: he had to do all the guitar playing for years after Duane’s untimely death, and he held his own. As for the songs the two axe men recorded together, it wasn’t too hard to differentiate between their Les Pauls: Duane’s soft rounded tones versus Dickie’s metallic country ring.

  13. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    Just thought I’d mention that Brion McClanahan and a couple colleagues at the Abbeville Institute are compiling a list of 100 great Southern rock songs for the Apocalypse, in a series of articles on the Abbeville Website right now. Dickie Betts features prominently in the latest article, with “Atlanta’s Burning Down” and “Blue Sky,” two songs we’ve mentioned in these comments. All you Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, and Outlaws fans need to go see if some of your old favorites are showing up on the list. They’re about halfway through. Also recommended are the many articles Dr Clyde Wilson recently wrote on Southern Cinema (Ray?), which not only tell what to watch, but also which films should be avoided like the, um, plague.

  14. Avatar Robert Reavis says:

    Ken, Thank you for your suggestion about Abbeville web. Lynrd Skynrd had two band members from my home town in Oklahoma Steve Gaines played guitar and Cassie Gaines was a background vocalist both were killed in the plane crash. Steve played in a band around here called the crawdaddys before he finally got his spot with Van Zant’s band . I was surprised Sweet Home Alabama didn’t make the cut.

  15. Avatar Ken Rosenberger says:

    Judge, the list continues. I think they are about halfway through. In fact, it may be on Part I of the list. I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd in ‘76 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, the first night of their three night stand that was recorded and turned into their great live album One More From (sic) The Road. That album is a great Best of collection, since they were a band that really came alive onstage. In any case, the Gaineses had just joined the band. Prior to an amped up (yet respectful) version of the old classic “Gimme a T for Texas,” Ronnie Van Zant introduced Steve as a new member of the band (this is on the album), saying, “This is Steve Gaines. He’s from Oklahoma. He’s a ol’ Okie. Watch out! Umma sic a Okie on ya.”

    Terrible tragedy, that plane crash. There were stories about the crash in the Atlanta papers for weeks. Losing Ronnie (who would perform barefoot, hold the mic stand horizontally through the entire show, while swigging J&B scotch between songs) essentially took the heart out of the band. Steve Gaines had been hired to replace the departing Ed King, and he was chosen because he was a lot more accomplished as a guitar player, and gave them more options in the studio. I remember that Cassie, from her pictures, was a strikingly pretty young woman, especially compared to the other Skynyrd backup singers, who looked like they’d already spent a little too much time on the road with Mr John Daniels (if you know who he is). Tragic for the family to lose sister and brother in the crash.