THE EDUCATION OF ARNOLD HITLER
At once a chess master, a linguist, an athlete and an innocent in love, Arnold passes through the racial tensions of Mansfield, Texas (home of the author of Black Like Me) in the 1950s, the anti-war movement at Harvard, and both the Upper East Side and the Bowery, meeting Noam Chomsky, Al Gore, and Leonard Bernstein in the process, and finally learning the meaning of meaning.
$15.95 US / $18.95 C | Trade Paperback Original | 6 x 9 | 336 pages
ISBN: 1-932961-03-8 | Carton Quantity: 24
The sixties began quite promptly for Arnold. On “Mayday” of 1960, Stella Rawson, her husband, Edward, their daughter Edna, and nine-and-a-half-year-old Arnold Hitler stood on the southeast corner of Broad and Main from ten to noon and one to three, a Lilliputian demonstration for the churched and unchurched concerning fair play for Cuba. She and her husband had been to pre-revolutionary Havana on their honeymoon and were simultaneously entranced by the beauty of the beach on which Edna was likely conceived, and sickened by the juxtaposed poverty and glitz. They had since tried to keep up on the tumultuous island events and the fate of the brave and bearded liberators come down from the mountains. Fidel made them feel alive again, alive in a world that was not hopeless.
For a few days, most of America had been in love with Fidel, as the media proudly proclaimed the overthrow of a system so corrupt that even Cuban elitists were deserting. El Jefe seemed to be a George Washington-sized revoutionary out of the mythic past. But within a mnth it became apparent that his was a declaration of independence not just from domestic slime, but from the United States of America! When they realized that Castro was serious about Cuba choosing its own path, that “greater general prosperity” might mean nationalization of U.S.-dominated industries, that “diversification of agriculture” meant less money for Texas rice, the prominent citizens who thought the new hero was merely making noble noises turned on him with the speed and fury of spurned lovers—as did the media. And so, therefore, did the people. The Senate invoked “the spectacle of a bearded monster stalking through Cuba,” and by February 1959, Congress had been filled with warnings of “a Kremin-inspired plot to destroy free enterprise,” with calls for American intervention “to save Cuba from chaos.”
Little did George and Anna suspect Arnold’s reason for wanting to do this vigil. During the four hours he stood in the Sunday Texas sun, only one thing was going through his head, the TV jingle for Castro Convertible Sofas:
With a Castro convertible sofa
You get comfort and beauty and style
So convert to a Castro Convertible
And you’ll have a living room smile
So you need a sofa, so good, so you need a sofa, so Castro!
Over and over. He loved the commercial, the little kid in Dr. Dentons who takes command of the huge sofa, throws off its pillows, pulls on the bar, and transforms the object as if opening some huge, mechanical flower: “So easy even a child can do it.” The triumph of the small over the large, and the end result, a comfy bed to snuggle in—what could be a greater prize? Arnold wanted a Castro Convertible sofa, and so the name “Castro” became associated with one of his heart’s chief fantasies. He would have been an admirer of Fidel had he been the only child of Fulgencio Batista. Besides—“Fidel.” A Texas child interested in words, Arnold knew enough Spanish to know fidel had something to do with being faithful. Imagine having a leader whose name was “Faithful” and not “Ike.” He was for that.