Sunday, March 29, 2020

Age of the Anti-Christ

Bob Dylan just released a 17-minute song about Dallas '63, his first release in 8 years.

Pepe Escobar:
What spectacular timing. Like a shot ricocheting at Heaven’s Door as a virus pandemic rages and Planet Lockdown is the new normal, Bob Dylan has produced a stunning 17-minute masterpiece dissecting the November 22, 1963, assassination of JFK – releasing it at midnight US Eastern Standard Time on Thursday.
For baby boomers, not to mention obsessive Dylanologists, this is the ultimate sucker punch. Countless eyes will be plunged into swimming pools revisiting all the memories swirling around “the day they blew out the brains of the king / Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing.” But that’s not all: the Dylanmobile takes us on a magical mystery tour of the 60s and 70s, complete with the Beatles, the Age of Aquarius and the Who’s “Tommy.”
If there’s any cultural artifact capable of sending a powerful jolt across a discombobulated America trying to come to grips with a dystopic Desolation Row, this is it, the work of America’s undisputed, true Exceptionalist. The times, they are-a-changin’. Oh, yes, they are.
There are so many nuggets in Dylan’s lyrics they would be worthy of a treatise, tracking the vortex of music, literature, film references and interlocking Americana.
This is essentially an incantatory mantra set to piano, sparse percussion and violin. We have two narrators: a dying Kennedy (“Ridin’ in the backseat next to my wife / Headin’ straight on in to the afterlife / I’m leanin’ to the left, got my head in her lap / Oh Lord, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap”) and Dylan himself.
Or this can be read as Dylan playing Kennedy’s doppelganger, plus occasional interventions, such as Kennedy’s would-be killers (“Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car / Shot down like a dog in broad daylight / Was a matter of timin’ and the timin’ was right / You got unpaid debts we’ve come to collect / We gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect / We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll grin in your face / We’ve already got someone here to take your place”).
The pearl at the heart of the mantra is nothing sort of apocalyptic: “They killed him once and they killed him twice / Killed him like a human sacrifice / The day that they killed him someone said to me, / ‘Son, The Age of the Antichrist has just only begun.’”
Extra words to define it would be idle. Wherever you are in Planet Lockdown, sit back in stay at home social distancing mode, turn on, tune in and time travel. There will be blood on the tracks.


The real thing: eight hours of John F. Kennedy, from Inauguration to the cusp of the Unspeakable.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Tyner


One of the great musicians of the 20th-century passed earlier this month. Let his sound give us comfort during a very dark time. . .

McCoy Tyner, 1938 - 2020. RIP

Friday, March 20, 2020

Black Spring

Courtesy of Bill Evans and filmmaker Javier Mayoral.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Spreading. . .


Some alternative thoughts about the monster in the room.

C.J. Hopkins

Pepe Escobar

Don Jeffries

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Jack

JFK in Ireland, the Spring of '63.

Monday, March 16, 2020

More Virus


The real USA: a young black girl down in Miami for Spring Break accidentally runs into a pig.

Chaos ensues.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Quiet American

Almost sixty years ago this week, freshly inaugurated John F. Kennedy was forced to make the first decision which would put him at odds with the rest of his own government: whether or not to send 150,000 United States combat troops to Laos.


On January 19, 1961, Kennedy was given a transition-briefing by outgoing President Dwight David Eisenhower. (Two days before, Ike had given his famous "military-industrial complex" warning speech.) Kennedy asked him an unexpected question, regarding Laos: "Which option would you prefer? A coalition government including the Communist Pathet Lao; or intervening militarily through the cover of SEATO?" Eisenhower was stunned by the naivete of the question: to even raise the possibility of a Communist-influenced ally! "It would be far better to intervene militarily -- even having to go it alone apart from SEATO -- than to live with a Pathet Lao-included coalition," he responded. Later, Kennedy would tell friends: "There he sat, telling me to do exactly the thing he had carefully avoided doing himself for eight years."

The Pentagon Papers: "Vietnam in 1961 was a peripheral crisis, compared to Laos. Even within Southeast Asia it received far less of the Kennedy Administration's and the world's attention than did Laos." The New York Times had twenty-six columns of items on Laos in 1961, only eight on Vietnam.

Two weeks after Eisenhower's scolding, Kennedy met with U.S. Ambassador to Laos Winthrop Brown, who began the conversation with standard State Department boilerplate before being convinced by Kennedy to forget official policy and explain what the Ambassador really thought. Brown opened up. He attacked the hijacking of U.S.-Laos policy by CIA/Pentagon forces, and attacked the blind support of CIA-installed anti-Communist ruler (and opium trafficker) General Phoumi Nosavan. Brown strongly endorsed neutralist leader Souvanna Phouma, the same man Eisenhower's CIA had already overthrown several years before. Kennedy backed Brown's ideas, agreeing to push hard for a neutral government under Souvanna Phouma, a neutralism which would be guaranteed by the U.S., France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Winthrop Brown would remember the conversation with Kennedy as a "very, very moving experience."

Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff stepped up pressure for massive military intervention in support of General Phoumi. They insisted that the Pathet Lao army would walk over Laos unless the U.S. acted quickly. At a March 9, 1961 meeting of the National Security Council, Kennedy revealed that the United States had already sent in far more military equipment to aid Phoumi Nosavan over the past year than had the Soviets in aiding the Pathet Lao, by a ratio of almost fifty-to-one. The next day, Kennedy's Soviet Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson told Nikita Khrushchev that the U.S. now supported a neutralist Souvanna government. At a press conference on March 23, Kennedy publicly declared his support for a "neutral and independent Laos" and called for an international conference to try to localize and resolve the matter. The Soviets agreed. Fourteen countries would meet in Geneva on May 11th.


Kennedy was, however, being led to the brink of war. The Pathet Lao army was advancing and seemed ready to take control of Laos even before the beginning of the Geneva conference. Kennedy's military brass began publicly attacking Kennedy's chosen ruler of a neutralist Laos, Souvanna Phouma -- labeling Phouma a Communist dupe. A series of events made Kennedy feel he was being drawn into a trap. First was the Bay of Pigs. The very same CIA and Pentagon people who lied to him about Cuba (and set an intervention trap for him there) were urging 150,000 U.S. troops sent to Laos by the beginning of the Geneva meetings.

Head of the Navy, Admiral Arleigh Burke: "Each time we give ground, it is harder to stand next time. We must throw enough in to win -- the works." Army General George Decker: "If we go in, we should go in to win, and that means bombing Hanoi, China, and maybe even using nuclear weapons." Air Force Chief Curtis LeMay: "I don't even know what our policy is on Laos, Mr. President. I know what the President keeps saying on the topic, but we're unable to back up the President's words with actions." General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: " If we are given the right to use nuclear weapons, we can guarantee victory."

No troops were ever sent. No American bombs were ever dropped on Laos. Under Kennedy. (After his execution, Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb-load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973; U.S. bombers dropped more ordnance on Laos than was dropped by everyone during the whole of the Second World War.) In October 1961, leaders of the three Laotian factions agreed to neutralist Souvanna Phouma becoming prime minister in a provisional coalition government. The Soviet Union agreed to guarantee all Communist states' compliance with the neutralist government. The mostly unwritten declaration became known as the Pushkin Agreement.

Kennedy's opponents did all they could to destroy the peace. They arranged daily provocations and violations of the cease-fire by General Phoumi Nosavan's army. In May 1962, Averell Harriman told Kennedy that his Laos policy was being "systematically sabotaged" by CIA and the Pentagon. Harriman said: "They want to prove that a neutral solution is impossible and that the only course is to turn Laos into an American bastion." The coalition government of Souvanna Phouma would survive until the mid-1970s, when nationalist forces took control in the wake of the U.S. bug out from South Vietnam.


Would Kennedy have done in neighboring Vietnam what he refused to do in Laos: Americanize the war, send 100,000s of U.S. troops, prop-up one Potemkin government after another, destroy the country in order to "win" it? Of course not. Still, conjecture. In Laos, we know. He had many opportunities to turn the country into a Southeast Asian test case, pushed hard by most members of his own Administration to do just that. All opportunities refused.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Virus


The real worldwide virus: USA bombs Iraq amid Corona while China and Cuba deliver experts and aid to fight it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Bern in Hell

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Theodora

The great James Harvey led us, through his second masterpiece Movie Love in the Fifties, to the rare gem of Christmas Holiday (1944). In his earlier masterpiece Romantic Comedy in Hollywood, he led us to a more classical yet rarer and brighter gem.
It's true that by 1936 a lot of leading female stars with careers as tearjerker heroines much like Irene Dunne's had been, had gone screwball (even Joan Crawford had tried it). But none of them made the sensation that Dunne did: Theodora Goes Wild was another sleeper for Columbia, a huge and unexpected hit. It became the precursor and paradigm of almost every important romantic comedy to follow it, from The Awful Truth to Ninotchka to The Lady Eve. Like all those later films, it deals in impersonations and magical transformations. And the screenplay, by Sidney Buchman, is one of the most brilliantly constructed in the screwball cycle.

For the first half of the movie, Theodora Lynn is a Lombard heroine, involved in a nervous imposture, hectic and out of her depth, her reactions to the world around her startled, wary, defensive: drinking "straight whiskey" and dancing on her partner's toes; doing a little dance of panic (to indicate casualness) when she stumbles into a man's bedroom; fending off the Literary Circle and her aunts and her blackmailer from the city all at once; fighting for the man she loves and scaring him away in the same outburst. Theodora's novel sets forces in motion she can't control or even fully comprehend -- just as Hazel Flagg's X-ray does.

But in the second half of the movie, the more distinctive Dunne heroine begins to emerge, and the screwball heroine herself takes an important evolutionary step. Where Lombard is almost helplessly outrageous, Theodora is deliberately so, choosing her craziness with full intention -- the first important screwball heroine to do this. Dunne enacts that crucial connection between lunacy and sense -- between abandon and the acutest kind of self-awareness -- that underlies all the great screwball comedies. . .

The "wild" Theodora is that ultimate glamorous figure: the one who sees the joke -- better than anyone else around. More than that: Dunne doesn't just see the joke -- she is radiant with it, possessed by it and glowing with it. Nobody else does this so completely or to quite the same degree: Dunne takes us inside her own amusement -- rich, energizing, seemingly inexhaustible.
As previously, buy the book.

Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Uh-Oh

IN-SANE

Monday, February 24, 2020

Sandernistas!

George Galloway ~ with a warning.



Jimmy Dore ~ also with warning.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Toilet Buildup

The Alfred E. Newman of Late Capitalism.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Calvino

"The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and attention: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them love." -- Invisible Cities