Sweetheart Grips and Fortune’s Wheel

I can’t resist posting this.

There are a lot of after market gizmos and gadgets that one can use to bling-up?… pimp?… one’s 1911 (“Nineteen-Eleven”), that classic, US military issue pistol to which so many (I am not one of them) are dedicated even today.

At War History Online I saw a post about “sweetheart grips” for those 1911s.

The piece begins with the observation that for all time soldiers have tweaked and personalized their gear, such as the sculpted body armor of the Romans.

Soldiers have always carried with them images of their loved ones, whether painted, sketched, silhouettes, miniatures, engraved, photographic.  They’d tuck them in here and there.

It seems that during WW2, with the advent of plexiglas, GI Joe made custom grips for his 1911 with photos of his sweetheart back home.    Here is a closeup of pistol handle with a photo of Lt. John Ernser’s girlfriend.  He, 26, was an officer engaged in attacks on German fortification positions at the Italian front.

The article has quite a few photos of these grips.  They could use pieces of broken plastic windows from bombers, gun turrets, vehicles, etc.  Plexiglas was invented in 1928 and marketed in 1933.

The piece says that in the movie Fury, Brad Pitt has a 1911 with a sweetheart grip.  A little touch of authenticity.

Of course this whole concept makes sense.  As stated before, there is a strong pull to personalize gear.

Speaking of movies, what popped into my mind was the clever gun bling used in the extremely strange, postmodern movie version of Romeo + Juliet (UK HERE) by the extremely strange Bas Luhrmann (whose cell should be faaaaarrrr down the hall, far far from Tarantino’s).  In a modern Mexico City like setting, Luhrmann used Shakespeare’s texts without a lot of changes.  From the opening scene you know you are in for a bizarre ride.  Shakespeare writes merely that there is a fight.  Zeffirelli turned it into 10 minutes of total city riot.  Luhrmann puts it at an exploding gas station.    Updating.  Right?

Back to gun bling.  When it comes time for Benvolio to tell Tybalt to “put up thy sword”, he is talking about his 9mm made by Sword.  There are 9mm Daggers and Rapiers, too.  Montague calls for his “Longsword”, obviously a rifle.  Obviously, this is Shakespeare.  They are all carrying swords, daggers and rapiers, right?


Some of the weapons they all carry (like Latino gang members) are rather spiffed up.    It is pretty clever naming them to match the original text.  Another example of clever is when meddling Friar Lawrence tries in vain to send word to exiled Romeo about his Blackadder-worthy “cunning plan”: he goes to the office of Post Haste Dispatch where he fills out the necessary forms and label.  There is even a Post Haste truck and driver trying in vain to make a delivery to the star-crossed lover in the dusty outback of Mantua.  He left notices on the door of Romeo’s trash-trailer.

As you know Balthasar beats the delivery guy, who just barely misses his chance to put the missive into Romeo’s hand before he jumps into his dusty junker and roars back to fair Verona.  Ah, the pathos.

Zeffirelli used a pate-shaved friar with a donkey against Balthasar’s swift steed.

You see, improved technology doesn’t help in tragedies.  As Lady Philosophy suggests to Boethius, when Fortune’s wheel turns, you are pretty much screwed.

Romeo himself cries out after killing Tybalt, “I am fortune’s fool!”  The Bard knew all too well about the well-established trope of Fortune and her wheel, and would have known Boethius, too.  Lady Philosophy explained that, well, of course we are screwed, for its the nature of Fortune to be fickle.  We can’t count on it.  However, she also explains that the goods of fortune are not true goods.  HAH!  Tell that to hormone-addled Romeo.   Shakespeare employs the Wheel of Fortune several times.  If memory serves, in King Lear Kent gripes about it when he is in the stocks and Bardolph whines about it in Henry V.   And there’s Paul VI … Hamlet who mopes around about the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.  But I digress.

There are lots of other clever things in the Luhrmann version.  For example, when Balthasar tells the Capulets that he saw Romeo “underneath the grove of sycamore”, in the film we find the post-modern R at the mostly ruined old beach-side bandshell called “Sycamore Grove”.  There’s all sorts of stuff like this.  Does it counterbalance the weirdness?  You decide.  I am still a little taken aback at the cross-dressing Mercutio.  I can say that the way Luhrmann ended his version, in the Capulet vault, was particularly horrifying.

I am not quite sure how I got to this point.   But…

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are surely complaining.  “You don’t get it.  This is the age of post-reason and post-faith!  It is the Springtime that we’ve worked for for so many years.  This is what we have to do to everything!  All the documents of the institutional church have to be reread and deconstructed so that they can more clearly resemble our ever changing times and needs.  Look at Amoris chapter 8 as the equivalent of Luhrmann’s revisioning of Shakespeare.  Do you get it yet?   Look at this post-modern romp as if it were the doctrinal development in CCC 2267.  But, no.   Cross-dressing is entirely acceptable now.  James Martin says so. Who are you to judge?!? You don’t understand any of this, with your backward ways, because clearly YOU HATE VATICAN II!”

C’mon.  Get a grip.

Get “sweetheart grips”!

If I had a 1911, I probably would, though I’m not sure what image I’d use.  Some of you might complain if I chose the Immaculate Heart, like the character in the movie.  Those of you who have 1911s might chime in on your choice for customized grips… and your favorite version of Romeo and Juliet.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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7 Responses to Sweetheart Grips and Fortune’s Wheel

  1. Gripen says:

    “(I am not one of them.)”

    For shame, Father, for shame! And to think that you call yourself a traditionalist.

  2. Gripen says: And to think that you call yourself a traditionalist.

    I don’t very often call myself that. I’m doing my best to be Catholic which, by definition, includes “traditional”. These other people, progressives… I don’t know what they’re into.

    But, about the 1911… I also don’t have a flintlock. And when I say Mass, I am okay with some electric lights instead of just candles or oil lamps.

    Perhaps if I had one and got used to it, I’d be more open. I’ve had a little experience with the system, and, while I used it effectively, I think that the more modern striker systems provide more reliability (and rounds). And they are a heck of a lot easier to maintain.

  3. tzard says:

    You could get a custom stipple job on your polymer-framed gun.

  4. Indeed. One could one one’s polymer frame. Something like this, or something nicer.

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    Romeo and Juliet set in modern Mexico City, that’s interesting (though of course no one can improve on the Bard himself).

    Perhaps someone will produce a modern “Richard III.” It could be set in a dystopian California where tech-company dynasties go to war over control of Silicon Valley. To the exploding gas stations add cyberwar, and replace cavalry with a rogue trucking company hauling stolen fiber-optic cable. “Now is the software update of our discontent.” “A virus scan, a virus scan, my kingdom for a virus scan!”

    Those grips tzard mentioned are good, there are many other grip selections such as rosewood or kirinite (which is also used for knife handles). Another option for the M1911 is tritium sights (Amazon has them.)

    An article “Why the M1911?”:


    Fr. Z also has interesting posts on handguns and St. Possenti on February 27 the last few years.

  6. rtrainque says:

    The only thing I don’t like about them is the apparent total lack of grip texture. Mine for comparison-you could practically get an equivalent result by taping a couple of rasps to the side of your gun: (https://ibb.co/cEvE0L) “Comfortable”? Not particularly. Effective? You bet. Had a true blue “1911 guy” in my squad at a match ask if it was a 9mm after seeing the relative lack of muzzle flip.

    I’m not sure the 1911 deserves quite the reputation is has as far as reliability is concerned, but that being said, for “serious use” I’ll still stick with my Glock (capacity benefits make it a no-brainer)

  7. Ben Kenobi says:

    I actually quite liked Romeo + Juliet. Keeping the archaic language but drawing curious parallels between then and the modern day strikes me as a very ‘shakespearean’ thing. At the time, there were not a lot of plays done in ‘English’, and to take the language of the common people to elevate it into high art strikes me as an interesting inversion here. We take a perceived ‘high’ art and bring it down a step without losing it’s nature.

    Certainly much better than all the current versions that presume that switching sexes is something that’s ‘fresh’ and ‘challenging’.

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