Monday, May 20, 2013
"Behind Obama, and next to the financial aristocracy, stands a privileged middle class layer—approximately the top 90th to 99th percentile. Some within this layer maintain minor differences with the financial aristocrats on lifestyle, race, culture and identity issues. However, they depend on the existing setup for their privileged status, income and respectable positions in corporate management, university departments, law firms, the entertainment industry, the trade unions, NGOs, the media and so forth. On board for imperialist war and the defense of the capitalist system in general, this layer is prepared to go along with a police state if the alternative is a revolutionary overthrow of the system by the working class. The vast majority of the American population—the bottom 80 to 90 percent—is wholly excluded from the official political life of the country. Obama does not address himself to them. Their interests are not taken into account in any major political decision. They do not matter."Tom Carter on the decomposition of American Democracy.
Posted by EJK at 8:00 AM
Monday, May 13, 2013
Why has Lumpy Space Princess been ignored during the last couple seasons of Adventure Time? Season Five (the show’s latest) is taking a clearly perverse pleasure in putting Finn the Human and Jake the Dog further and further away from places, characters, and situations which made the show something beyond oddball: community, the adoration of quirks and uniqueness which comes of friendship, Finn’s love life, Jake’s new fatherhood, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum. No, Season Five has been all oddball. Few of the major characters surrounding Finn & Jake have been featured. What has been featured are curious figures we have never seen before (or will see again): James Baxter the Happy Horse, a large tree, the forever screeching Earl of Lemongrab, Finn’s hat, the Great Bird Man (not Chris Anderson, thank God), and a place called Puhoy. Almost no members of the Candy Kingdom or its many lovely princesses. And no LSP.
She's the funniest and dearest character on a very funny and dear show. With her pale-purple and lumpy body and star-implanted forehead, her Valley Girl personality and voice, she loves to eat almost as much as she hates her parents. She is lonely and needy and always cute. And very obsessed with her ex-boyfriend Brad.
Whom we meet in “Trouble in Lumpy Space,” where LSP accidentally bites Jake’s leg, causing him to turn into Lumpy Jake. So Finn must save him as LSP and her BFF Melissa only care about making it to the weekly Promcoming Dance.
My favorite episode in the series is “The Monster”: LSP runs away from home, joins a pack of wolves (who at last figure out she’s not a wolf and try to eat her), escapes the pack, finds a tiny village with lots of crops, eats all the crops and so is proclaimed a monster by the tiny villagers, sees the light and returns home.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
As quiet as the months got, 50 years ago. Not so quiet. . . .
On May 2nd, thousands of Negro children march in Birmingham, Alabama – Project C (for Confrontation): challenging the segregation of lunch counters, restrooms, fitting rooms, water fountains. By the end of the 2nd, over 1,000 children – bitten by dogs, clubbed by crackers, and water-cannoned by Police Commissioner Bull Connor’s finest -- are arrested. The biting, clubbing, arrests, and use of fire hoses continue for a whole week, until May 11th when Bull Connor – under tremendous pressure from the Kennedy Justice Department – is ordered to vacate his office. On May 8th, the first (and butchest) James Bond/Sean Connery movie opens in New York City, Dr. No, starring the impossible-to-believe Ursula Andress. Also on the 8th, the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Din Diem fires guns and grenades into a crowd of Buddhist protestors, killing 9, igniting a countrywide religious war -- concocted by US Intelligence agencies -- between Catholic Diem forces and the overwhelming South Vietnamese Buddhist majority, leading to Diem’s overthrow and assassination the following November. On May 22nd, another assassination: anti-Fascist resistance leader Grigoris Lambrakis is murdered in Greece after rallying hundreds of thousands throughout March and April in opposition to the Greek military junta.
Yet on the 15th, Gordon “Gordo” Cooper pilots the longest and last of the American Mercury rockets, orbiting the earth 22 times throughout 35 hours among the stars. . . .
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Fuck Off And Die.
This is the lodestar guiding leaders of every political stripe across the breadth of western civilization. If you want to make your way through their billows of bullshit, hold fast to this phrase. It’s what they’re really saying to you.
Of course, elite attitudes toward the lower orders have never been exactly tender; but in times past, a rather large number of sufficiently quiescent peasants and proles were required to create the wealth for plutocratic plundering and maintain the machinery of power and privilege. Thus some attention had to be paid to the rabble’s basic needs and even -- occasionally – their pitiful aspirations for a more meaningful, more humane life for themselves, their families and their communities. But now the means of production (to borrow a phrase) are largely mechanized and digitized; you don’t need many warm bodies -- and certainly not skilled or experienced or well-paid ones – to keep the money rolling in. And perhaps more importantly, the means of control -- the technologies of violence and surveillance -- are now vastly more powerful and pervasive and efficient than ever.
To put it plainly, the elites don’t need us anymore -- or not many of us, anyway. And thanks to runaway population growth -- and the greasy mobility of global capital -- those few of us they do still need to keep the machinery going can be easily replaced, at any moment, by some other desperate chump trying to avoid destitution. So there is no longer any reason for elites to concern themselves with the wearisome creatures out there beyond the mansion gates and the penthouse glass. No need to worry about workers’ rights: if they get out of line, sack them, or even better, send the whole operation overseas, where sweatshop fodder is thick on the ground and comes dirt cheap. No need to worry about communities, the personal, social, economic and physical structures that gave a richer embodiment to ordinary life: just strip them, gut them and leave them to die -- and when the rot gets bad enough, as in Detroit, send in an unelected “manager” to pick the carcass clean.
And no need to worry about mass uprisings of the dispossessed, debt-ridden, insecure, angry, overwhelmed, isolated, media-dazed rabble. With hyper-militarized police forces, cameras on every corner, spies and provocateurs infesting every possible base of dissent, and gargantuan data-harvesters mining every public move and private click of the populace, repression is a piece of cake. And if by chance some pocket of protest does reach critical mass somewhere, your hi-tech, heavily armored goons can easily beat it, tase it and pepper-spray it into submission.
So the elites no longer need us or fear us. We are superfluous to their requirements. And their policies are now ever more nakedly geared to hammering this truth home.
The Great Crash of ’08 gave them the excuse to rip off the mask at last. For five years now, the iron hand of “austerity” has been pressed down hard upon ordinary people. We had no part in the criminal folly that caused the disaster -- yet we are the ones left paying for it, in lost jobs, lost homes, lost services, lost freedoms, lost opportunities, and cramped, crippled, diminished lives. From the "progressive" Obama to the Tory toff Cameron to the pseudo-Socialist Hollande to the dour centrist Merkel -- and all the other clowns, clerks and ciphers turning their self-proclaimed “great democracies” into cash cows for their cronies and controllers -- the infliction of pain on ordinary people is the only game in town. ‘O my gosh,’ our leaders cry, throwing up their soft, unblemished hands, ‘there's just no more money left, no money for your schools, your roads, your jobs, your pensions, your rights, your benefits, your elderly, your sick, your poor, your vulnerable. The money's all gone, what can we do?’
But of course the money is not gone, not at all. A new study -- by an inside man, James Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey -- shows that up to $32 trillion has been stashed away by the world’s elites in offshore accounts and other hidey-holes. Even a modest portion of this mountain of swag would completely alleviate the draconian “budget crises” and ludicrous “sequesters” that have been artificially imposed on nation after nation. All of the suffering, chaos, ruin and degradation being caused by these policies -- all the “skin in the game” that’s being flayed from the backs of ordinary people -- all of it is unnecessary. The money is there to solve these problems -- if our leaders wanted to solve them.
But they don’t. For “austerity” isn’t designed to fix our problems; it is instead meant to be a permanent condition, a new normal, the endless, changeless natural order. (Just as the “emergency” of the “War on Terror” has now morphed into a permanent way of life.) It’s all out in the open. Obama is eagerly offering to slash the social compact to ribbons. Cameron is driving the poor and sick to their knees. The IMF is breeding Nazis in Greece. They’re not even pretending to care about anyone outside the golden circle anymore.
Fuck off and die: that’s it, that’s all they’ve got to say. The rest is show-biz -- strip-tease and shell games -- to fleece us of our last few coins as they shove us out the exit.
Posted by EJK at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
Wee Mikey Bloomie:
"We live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change. We live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11. We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to."Arthur Silber has other ideas.
Posted by EJK at 9:33 PM
Monday, April 22, 2013
She is madly in love with him, like a schoolgirl, making things perfect for him in his absence ~ her place, his dinner, herself. He is, Devlin (Cary Grant), an American intelligence agent in the days before there was CIA. And he is her recruiter, down in Rio, against a postwar Nazi bund looking to acquire atomic secrets. He is her torturer, now arriving with their first assignment.
Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) is the beautiful daughter of a convicted Nazi traitor, a recent suicide cheating his life sentence. When we see her Miami life, she's surrounded by -- beyond the feral reporters and cops -- dumpy sexless middle-aged drunks and poop-a-doops. Enter Devlin. (We never learn his first name.) When we first see him, it's the back of his head we see. And we stay there throughout. For Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) is in the grip of Mr. Devlin's tortoruous, raging, ice-cold hatred (born of fear) of Alicia Huberman's sex. (A hate matched astonishingly by Ted Tetzlaff's sinister, silverplate photography.) The most engaged great actor we've had is estranged from all in Notorious, except his own burning. Grant's face does not light up once in the 102 minutes. His loathing of her has little to do with Alicia's father's past and all to do with the past of her scent, her body, skin and taste. His lust for her is overwhelming and petrifying. He has recordings of her and her father, recordings he uses to prove her "patriotism" and love for America. Actually, daggers to the heart, for she is already his; and Devlin has other recordings of her as well, of a different nature. Her apartment has been bugged for months. Recordings of her bedroom, sofa and terrace, her bathroom. No wonder his look at her is so hard from the start, before they have even met. All he thinks he already knows. . . and when he reveals the recordings, he is delighted and diabolical. And when he tells her of her father's death, it's as if he's asking her to pass the salt. . .
He is being driven mad by her, by his need to have it all, all of her, especially her past. Hitchcock makes it clear that Devlin has had it from the start, much as Scottie has all of Madeleine/Judy a dozen years later in Vertigo. And, like Scottie, he is blind to it, so at every opportunity he does what he can to break her "tramp's heart." Yet the only other decent-looking man we see is Devlin's boss Paul Prescott (Louis Calhern) -- clearly no rival, even if others regularly remark on his good looks. Devlin sends Alicia on her way toward the physical embrace, and marriage, with the short, fey, unattractive Claude Rains as Alexander Sebastian. What if Sebastian had been a stud, a true threat to Devlin's game? A different picture all together. A greater one, too.
At the center is the crucified. Alicia is ripped apart by the sexual possessiveness and torment of three people -- Devlin, her dream man; Sebastian, her husband; and a figure straight out of Day of Wrath, Sebastian's mother (Leopoldine Konstantin).
When the turn of the screw comes, it is in the forms of a key, party champagne running low, and a wine bottle filled with uranium ore. Alicia is "saved" at the end -- but from what and especially toward what? In the midst of postwar triumphalism, Hitchcock presents a dead world, an ice-cold Cold War world where the weak and confused and relaxed are crushed. At the end, the "fat-headed guy, full of pain" does rescue her ~ temporarily overcoming his torture and sending his rival to sure death without a moment's look-back. Alicia Huberman's unavailability and physical possession by Sebastian distracts his torment. Yet the entire time Devlin is with Alicia he treats her with contempt. Are we to believe the sadistic control he has over her will not continue into and through a marriage? It is there before, all the way -- before she gives herself to another man as Devlin stands by, before she marries that man. Will it not be there going forward? As Alicia lived a childhood dominated and destroyed by an evil father, she will now live a marriage dominated and destroyed by a sinister husband. Even if he is Cary Grant.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
HST's -- felt and used the first time the night of 11/22/63.
November, 22, 1963, Woody Creek
I am tired enough to sleep here in this chair, but I have to be in town at 8:30 when Western Union opens so what the hell. Besides, I am afraid to sleep for fear of what I might learn when I wake up. There is no human being within 500 miles to whom I can communicate anything - much less the fear and loathing that is on me after today's murder. God knows I might go mad for lack of talk. I have become like a psychotic Sphinx - I want to kill because I can't talk.
I suppose you will say the rotten murder has no meaning for a true writer of fiction, and that the "real artist" in the "little magazines" are above such temporal things. I wish I could agree, but in fact I think what happened today is far more meaningful than the entire contents of the "little magazines" for the past 40 years. And the next 40, if we get that far.
We now enter the era of the shitrain, President Johnson and the hardening of the arteries. Neither your children nor mine will ever be able to grasp what Gatsby was after. No more of that. You misunderstand it of course, peeling back the first and most obvious layer. Take your "realism" to the garbage dump. Or the "little magazines." They are like a man who goes into a phone booth to pull his pod. Nada, nada.
The killing has put me in a state of shock. The rage is trebled. I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, but here it is. Ignore it at your peril. I have written Semonin, that cheap book-store Marxist, that he had better tell his boys to buy bullets. And forget the dialectic. This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour in our time. I mean to come down from the hills and enter the fray. Tomorrow a cabled job request to "The Reporter." Failing that, the "Observer." Beyond that, God knows, but it will have to be something. From now until the 1964 elections every man with balls should be on the firing line. The vote will be the most critical in the history of man. No matter what, today is the end of an era. No more fair play. From now on it is dirty pool and judo in the clinches. The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency. They can count me in - I feel ready for a dirty game.
Fiction is dead. Mailer is an antique curiosity. The stakes are now too high and the time too short. What, O what, does Eudora Welty have to say? Fuck that crowd. The only hope now is to swing hard with the right hand, while hanging on to sanity with the left. Politics will become a cockfight and reason will go by the boards. There will have to be somebody to carry the flag.
My concept of the new novel would have fit this situation, but now I see no hope for getting it done, if indeed, any publishing houses survive the Nazi scramble that is sure to come. How could we have known, or even guessed? I think we have come to that point.
Send word if you still exist - Hunter
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
"He’s up there with Will Rogers, H.L. Mencken and A.J. Liebling, and not too far short of Mark Twain, as one of the great plainspoken commentators on American culture and American life."
-- Andrew O’Hehir of Salon on Roger Ebert
"Let's put it bluntly. The health, and hence the future, of our culture is in the hands of hacks -- hacks of whom it may be said that, when they die, it will be as though, professionally, they never lived, as though their opinions were never expressed, as though the millions of words, the literally millions of words, which they committed to print during their lifetimes, failed to make the slightest impact on either their own posterity or on that of the medium to which their careers were dedicated. Given the stratification of our society, we have no choice but to entrust the management of its culture industry to these hacks, as we have no choice but to entrust our social and economic welfare to politicians. That, however, is no reason why we should regard the former as any more intelligent, any less obtuse, than most of us do the latter." -- the late great Gilbert Adair on Roger EbertAnd another great critic writes about a totally disposable one.