Saturday, April 18, 2015

6 - 6 - 6

6th-seed wins Championship #6 over Cleveland in 6 games.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Doctor

First broadcast two weeks after the dawn (the dusk) of Raygunism, Dr. Johnny Fever -- faced with the choice of soul and struggle vs. stupidity and cash -- makes the right move. We weren't so lucky.

A beautiful (and one-hour) WKRP in Cincinnati from February 7th, 1981.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The goofy Thom Hartmann and the great Mark Ames on Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, and similar garbage.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Welles and War

How many of us have actually listened to it? Take the time for it is an astonishing piece of radio art, and perfectly believable as the source of mass 1938 panic.

The background.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

White Heat

She is darkness, love, magic, passion, spirit, mystery, lustre, the sacred -- from a world where the blood has a different throb. And what is she (Simone Simon) tortured and finally murdered by? White bread efficiency and workload, Park Avenue psychoanalysis, the daily, the practical, the shadowless. She murders too: a preposterously rouĂ© analyst who sets up a secret rendezvous with her, but cannot come close to satisfying her lust. Irena’s refusal to sleep with Oliver (Kent Smith), her husband, is a blank space in the movie. For he is sexless (or gay), yet she seems to truly love him. Or perhaps it’s merely her fatigue toward being separate and alone. Her real tragedy. And ours ~ the literal driving lust out of the wind and out of the attic, out of all the lost primitive places.

Cat People (1942) is Jacques Tourneur’s first masterpiece and bears comparison to his greatest work, Out of the Past from five years later: Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is also destroyed by the pull between the darkness of Kathie (Jane Greer) and the bland safety of Ann (Virginia Huston). It was made during the fatal turn the culture took from the screwball gangster Berkeley 30s toward the Mrs. Miniver/Going My Way 40s, when Hollywood (with major, major exceptions) moved strongly toward Greer Garson and Gregory Peck, away from Cagney and Lombard. As the husband, his future wife (Curse of the Cat People), and the soon-to-be-devoured psychiatrist bloodlessly decide to put Irena away, so too did movies lock away the speed, joy, mad love, and wit that made them great, as we shifted into the ever monotonous and slowing Forties. (With major exceptions.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Devil in the Details

The Washington Post:
Is Hillary Rodham Clinton a McDonald’s Big Mac or a Chipotle burrito bowl? A can of Bud or a bottle of Blue Moon? JCPenney or J. Crew? As she readies her second presidential campaign, Clinton has recruited consumer marketing specialists onto her team of trusted political advisers. Their job is to help imagine Hillary 5.0 — the rebranding of a first lady turned senator turned failed presidential candidate turned secretary of state turned likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton and her image-makers are sketching ways to refresh the well-established brand for tomorrow’s marketplace. In their mission to present voters with a winning picture of the likely candidate, no detail is too big or too small — from her economic opportunity agenda to the design of the “H” in her future campaign logo.
“It’s exactly the same as selling an iPhone or a soft drink or a cereal,” said Peter Sealey, a longtime corporate marketing strategist.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mister Bonds

As the San Francisco Giants begin their quest for a FOURTH championship in SIX years (and as the LA Dodgers prepare to spend their 27th straight season in the baseball wilderness), let us celebrate the greatest (and most complicated) baseball player of the last 50 years.

Grant Bisbee with a fine appreciation of No. 25.

Friday, April 3, 2015


The greatest ending to a 20th-Century movie, the most moving, the most profound.

A beloved wife, mother, daughter and sister has died in childbirth. Her surviving younger daughter asks her uncle -- who believes he is Jesus Christ -- to bring her back from the dead. He does, and the mother returns with new, and terrible, understanding.

A brilliant essay by Chris Fujiwara on the Dreyer masterpiece.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Keeping On

Is 88-year-old Noam Chomsky, in two very recent talks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Mark Ames's "Forbidden Theory":

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ramsey Orta

Are free speech absolutists the usual wad of MSNBC-entombed office drones? True Brooklyn's own Rancid Honeytrap thinks so, in a political essay masterpiece.

Part One:
White Supremacy is having a good month: On March 5, the ACLU put its weight behind Pro Football Inc’s fight to keep its Washington Redskins trademark.  A few days later, legal scholars from the right and permissible left along with The New Republic scolded Oklahoma University for expelling two SAE fraternity members who led the sickening racist song immortalized on viral video. That same week, notorious Islamophobe Pam Gellar won her battle to force Philadelphia to display bus signs featuring a photo of Hitler and proclaiming “Islamic Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” Five days ago, the ACLU filed a brief in support of Confederate flags on license plates.

Of course, for the self-styled First Amendment absolutists among us it’s not white supremacy that’s winning here, but free speech. “The first attacks on free speech always come at the fringe,” they insist. “That’s where it needs to be defended.” First Amendment absolutists have been saying this at least since 1977, when the ACLU won the American Nazi party the right to march through Skokie, Illinois, where an estimated one in six residents was a Holocaust survivor.  In the ensuing 38 years, civil libertarians have ostentatiously supported cross burners, churches that promote race war, right wing Christians disrupting Arab festivals, and picketers of LGBT funerals, admonishing as authoritarian anyone who thinks their view of speech rights is imprudently simplistic at best.

While white supremacists were having such a good few weeks spreading freedom for all, Ramsey Orta, the man who captured Eric Garner’s murder by NYPD cops on video, was still struggling to make bail. Orta is enmeshed in a Kafkaesque nightmare of sadistic state reprisal against his supremely brave, selfless and heroic act. A murdered black man and a latino in a cage for bearing witness to the crime is what you could call a white supremacy twofer, as well as a complete disaster for civil liberties.

As of this writing, the ACLU and its New York branch have seemingly done nothing on Orta’s behalf — searches on their websites don’t yield one mention — and as far as I can tell none of the First Amendment cult’s leading lights has written about it.  Orta’s civil liberties don’t interest The New Republic like those of racist frat boys. But at least won a World Press Award two weeks ago for a video consisting almost entirely of Orta’s footage and his words in voiceover. So — if you overlook how that award embodies the parasitic relationship of press to whistleblowers, rich to poor and white to dark– there’s that.

Though forty years of contrarian First Amendment advocacy hasn’t produced obvious benefits for the likes of Orta, it’s doing quite a lot for corporations, whose ingenious lawyers, after establishing ACLU-supported corporate personhood,  have found the First Amendment endlessly useful as an instrument of deregulation. I can’t do justice to the orgy of litigating going on in this realm, but here’s a sample: the National Labor Relations Board can’t compel your employer to hang a poster informing workers of their rights; however, your employer can lobby you on how to vote and when to call your congressperson. There’s an effort afoot to remake corporate lies as First Amendment protected opinion, and mandatory disclosures an unconstitutional burden. Considering corporate and shareholder demographics, corporate personhood is indisputably a win for white supremacy too.

Surely there is an onus on advocates to demonstrate that a tactical alliance with white supremacists and corporations, that clearly benefits white supremacists and corporations, produces commensurate benefits for people like Ramsey Orta.  But if you want to make a First Amendment absolutist lash out, lie or robotically recite bromides, just demand conclusive evidence of such benefits. They can’t produce it, because no such evidence exists.

There are some, like Radley Balko, who, when confronted with this, will insist that we should support racist speech on general principle, regardless of what it does for anyone else, but this is a justifiably tough sell. Surely if First Amendment victories for white supremacists or corporations don’t meaningfully fortify the rights of people of color and anti-racists, any engagement with their cause should aim toward their defeat. It’s a really rather bizarre state of affairs when reluctance to ally with fascists in pursuit of freedom strikes otherwise intelligent people as repellently authoritarian, but that’s the state we’re in.

I’ve discussed a lot of this before in various issue-focused posts. What follows is an attempt at a more detailed, general critique, which examines the folly of Free Speech Absolutism in relation to white supremacy. At the outset I’d like to make a few things clear. My objections to Free Speech Absolutism have very little to do with laws and regulations. I am extremely ambivalent about Hate Speech laws. I am less ambivalent about Hate Crimes Law, though I don’t like laws generally since their primary use is to oppress and discipline people with very little power.

My main objection is to the doctrine of free speech absolutism. In addition to directing the attention, resources and goodwill of decent people to organizations and individuals that would imprison and murder them if they could, it perniciously minimizes the genocidal and avaricious politics with which it makes common cause; it promotes a view of power and social change so ahistoric and infantile it qualifies as magical thinking; and it promotes libertarian as opposed to communitarian values and politics.  By virtue of this doctrine’s wide adoption and promotion by revered adherents, it has a uniquely corrupting effect on political discourse and practice as a whole.

As one would expect from an extremely dishonest doctrine that is taught in public schools and enjoys avid support across political lines, it serves power far more than it serves anyone else.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Minor Meeting

Major, actually. Sonny Clark on piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Clifford Jordan on tenor, Pete LaRoca on drums -- March 29, 1959.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


An astonishment during a time of near total lividity. Vince Gilligan's extension of his Breaking Bad masterpiece is quieter, slower paced, more lonely, less complex and intense, funnier -- and just as good. A miracle.

Here ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (immortal as played by the immortal Jonathan Banks) shows us what to do with bad bad cops.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


"There is one thing that I do not believe; that is that any one deliberately wants us to be unhappy. I think that things were made so that everybody can be happy. I think that our unhappiness is a sort of disease which we create ourselves, with big chills-and-fever, with bad water, and with the evil that we catch from each other in breathing the same air. I think that if we knew how to live, perhaps we wouldn't be ill. With the habits we've gotten into now, all our life is a struggle; we strike out in the water, we fight, to keep from going under. Our whole life long. Whether it be your animals, whether it be your seeds, your plants, your trees, you've got to police against them all. What we want, it seems that the entire world does not want. They seem to do it on purpose. That must have given us a distaste for everything, in the end. That must have forced our bodies to produce any old way, how can we tell? . . . The world forces us to shed blood. Perhaps we are unconsciously creating a special kind of blood, a blood of distaste, and instead of there flowing through our bodies, everywhere -- in our arms, in our thighs, in our hearts, in our stomachs, in our lungs -- a blood of desire, our great pipe system washes us with a blood of disgust."  -- Jean Giono, The Joy of Man's Desiring