Monday, January 31, 2022

Seaman Schmuckatelli's Dirty Cover

Every once in a while I come across one of these... I used to do a lot of cartoons while I was in the Navy... some were published in base newspapers,  Navy magazines,  Stars & Stripes, etc. 

I gave most of them away over the years... here's one of the fabled Seaman Schmuckatelli (Navy sailors know who this fabled sailor was/is) - do they even have clubs on base anymore??? This one was "Seaman Schmuckatelli Dirty Cover"

Seaman Schmuckatelli's dirty cover - a 1980s Navy cartoon by Lenny Campello
Seaman Schmuckatelli's dirty cover
1981 Navy cartoon by Lenny Campello

The curious case of "Being the Ricardos"

When I first heard about the casting for Amazon's film "Being the Ricardos", the pedantic part of me immediately went into hyper-critical mode and I thought out loud, "Nicole Kidman... Seriously? Isn’t she an Aussie? Playing Lucy?”

Then I read about Javier Bardem playing Desi and I went ballistic… A Spaniard playing a Cuban? Not just any Cuban, but a Cuban from Santiago de Cuba, that most Cuban of all Cuban places!

I also knew at the time that I was being hypocritical in the sense that actors, great actors that is, like Kidman and Bardem can probably do anything and become anyone.  Still, a Spaniard portraying a Santiaguero was gonna be an uneasy pill to swallow for that most clannish of people known as Cubans.  Everyone is Hialeah was probably having a fit.

Then I watched the film.

Both Kidman and Bardem delivered exceptional performances and had me believing in their inner Lucy and Desi.  Congratulations to two great actors and a great performance.


My obnoxious pedantic nature found a spectacularly chronological anachronism which, unfortunately makes up one of the pillars of the storyline which according to the Amazon description takes place “during one production week of “I Love Lucy” — from Monday table read through Friday audience taping — Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) face a series of personal and professional crises that threaten their show, their careers and their marriage, in writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama.”

In summary, it’s the 1950s in the middle of the “red scare” and Lucy is being accused on having once being a member of the Communist Party in the 1930s.  The script has Bardem talking about having to leave Cuba because of the Bolsheviks and throughout the movie Aaron Sorkin wants the audience to believe that Desi came to the United Sates as a refugee because of the Cuban Revolution of the Castro brothers.

This is an important part of the storyline of the film.


  • 1917 - Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III is born in Santiago de Cuba, capital of the Oriente province to an upper class Cuban family.  His father was the mayor of the city, and his great-great-grandfather had been the Count of Santa Ines.
  • 1933 - The Sergeants' Revolt, was a coup d'etat that occurred in Cuba in September 1933 and in which Desi’s father was jailed and all the family’s property confiscated. It marked the beginning of the rise of Fulgencio Batista as a Cuban strongman. Upon his release six months later, the family escapes Cuba and settles in Miami, where Desi attends High School.
  • 1939 – Desi is cast in the Broadway musical Too Many Girls.
  • 1940s – Arnaz and Lucille Ball were married on November 30, 1940. Desi also appears in several movies and is also drafted and serves in the US Army until discharged in 1945.
  • 1950 – Desilu Productions founded by Lucy and Desi.
  • 1951 – “I Love Lucy” makes its television premiere.
  • 1953 – Episode 68 (the one that the Amazon movie is based on) takes place.
  • 1956 – Castro starts the Cuban Revolution by landing in Cuba in December.
  • 1957 – Last episode of “I Love Lucy” airs.
  • 1959 – Cuban Revolution overthrows the Batista government and begins brutalizing the Cuban people leading to the largest mass migration of the 20th century known as the "Cuban Diaspora."

Now do you see why my pedantic head is spinning when Sorkin mixes crap up to make the storyline of the movie fit a made-up Hollywood timeline?

“But Lenster,” you say, “It’s just a movie… who cares?”

Today I was listening to the 1A with Jen White on WAMU. It is one of my favorite radio shows.  And White was interviewing Bardem about (mostly) Desi, Lucy and “Being the Ricardos.”

And it was clear to the most casual listener that both White and Bardem actually believe that Arnaz had escaped Cuba because of the Communist takeover.

Why? Because Sorkin directed a movie that tells a made-up storyline which will now have most people think that the Cuban Revolution took place around the 1930s.

Makes my head hurt.

PS – Ms. Jen White also seems to think that the Ball-Arnaz marriage was a “mixed race” marriage – either White thinks that Cubans are a separate race or is curiously unaware that in the 1950s there was no such thing as a Hispanic or Latino with the contemporary present day confusions as to race and national origin and/or ethnicity. In the 1950s Arnaz was a “Cuban”, but his race was/is still the same as Ball’s.