Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Apropos of Nothing

Other than the beginning of the month of Joy.

He'd rather lead a band. Who's gonna stop him?

Friday, November 27, 2020

Nation

Shithole

Thursday, November 26, 2020

And Thank You, Bob!

Newhart. Thanksgiving Day. Football. Moo goo gai pan. And ties, lapels, and collars you could rent space on. What more do we need?

"Over the River and Through the Woods" from November of '75.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

American

"JFK accomplished an Americanization of the world far deeper and more subtle than anything Eisenhower, Nixon, or the Dulles brothers ever dreamed of -- not a world Americanized in the sense of adopting the platitudes and pomposities of 'free enterprise' -- but a world Americanized in the perceptions and rhythms of life. He penetrated the world as jazz penetrated it, as Bogart and Hemingway and Faulkner penetrated it; not the world of the chancelleries but the underground world of fantasy and hope." ~ Senator George McGovern

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Requiem for a Eunuch


[Please don't waste your cash on the recently expelled flatulence from Barry O's $65,000,000 book deal. Perhaps take a look instead at a repost from January 2017 on this Wall Street pimp and droning mass murderer.]

What a degrading and despairing eight years it's been.

The presidency of Barack Hussein Obama began as the most shameful time in American history ended, a time flanked by two thefts: the first, a presidential election; the second -- through the transfer of over $20,000,000,000,000 from the public realm to the private -- that of the American State itself. In between: the end of habeas corpus and most other privacy rights; the handing-over of major parts of American "defense" to private armies and death squads; the institution of aggressive war as the vanguard of American foreign policy; the dissolution of what small room remained between corporate/government propaganda and establishment media; the de facto end of public education and general public concern on the part of the national government; radical, across-the-board changes in tax policy in order to keep power in the hands of the mutant elite; the packing of federal courts with extreme corporatists; the basic end of a citizen's right to declare bankruptcy; the further narrowing of labor law and its enforcement, making a worker's right to collectively-bargain essentially meaningless; the creation of a world-wide American archipelago of secret prisons; torture as national policy; the destruction of the United Nations as an independent force; the holding of prisoners without identity, legal representation, the naming of evidence, trial, or declared length of sentence; the largest increase in "defense" spending in world history, without a single military threat on the planet; the evisceration of the Freedom of Information Act, and the withholding of normal documents-release from past administrations; the politicization of science; the ending of all financial regulations and oversight; the takeover of environmental, health care, energy, workplace safety, worker safety, and product safety policies by corporate private tyranny; the denying and demonizing of the effects of global warming.

The beginning of 2009 really did feel like America, Year Zero. We were like punch-drunk fighters, too alone and without anything to grasp. The country had the feel of a devastated peasant society after a plague swept it or an army went through and destroyed everything. We had dissolved into an inability to respond.

I think our real hope was a mere wish to return to "normal," however ruthless and self-righteous that normal often had been during the American 20th Century. Of course, many of us hoped for much more. Why not? The country was repulsed by what it had gone through, the economy had collapsed, the out-of-power party during our dark time now had strong executive and legislative control. The decades-long suffocation caused by Free Marketeering was declared over. There was talk of nationalizing banks and other financial institutions. Talk of new public control over the Fed; even of its elimination.

And one national magazine had this on its cover:


Best of all, our new chief executive was a man of enormous political gifts: handsome, eloquent, elegant, brilliant, funny. His whole election campaign promised one thing above all: change. And a promise -- pronounced or implicit -- to reverse, so help him God, not only the ahistorical evils of his immediate predecessor but the larger anti-communal, anti-public course we had been set upon by the originator of the American nightmare, Ronald Reagan.

None of it has happened. Far from returning the country to its "normal" self, the only normalizing Barack Obama has done has been the normalizing -- intensifying -- of all things Bush/Cheney; and an acceleration of the sociopathic direction launched by Reagan. In January 2017, the country is now further to the right than at any time in its history, with a more debased political culture than ever before. More corporatized, with a completely hijacked State. There is more police power, private and public. Less personal and family privacy. Less freedom of movement -- physically, artistically, politically, and in terms of work. The connection between what people vote for and what they get is now completely delinked. Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex" -- a complex he allowed to be created by turning over national security policy to the Dulles brothers and to a complex that would murder his successor -- is now a military-corporate-intelligence state in complete control. Bush's wars have metastasized -- while staying exactly the same in effect in Iraq -- into a massive expansion in Afghanistan, a massive expansion covertly in Iran, Indonesia, and Columbia (with the heroic populist governments of Central and South America now in Robert Gates's drone-sights), and new wars in Pakistan and Yemen. Not one perp from the Bush/Cheney crime gang has been gone after. Obama has claimed the right to murder anyone, at anytime, for any reason, anywhere on the planet. There is less control than ever over the gangster state of Israel. The people of Palestine and Gaza are forgotten. As are the poor, desperate, and homeless here in America. NAFTA and GATT have been expanded and hardened rather than reversed. Cap-and-Trade was allowed to be hijacked by Goldman Sachs et al. - then killed. The BP/Gulf horror was not used to shift the country away from energy over-development toward conservation. Obama's Justice Department has Godfathered the public crucifixion of whistle blowers and true public servants such as Julian Assange (while setting Assange up for eventual extradition and Gitmo-ing), while also rewriting rules for use of Miranda warnings. There have been FBI raids on the homes and offices of anti-war activists. The criminal enterprise known as the Pharmaceutical/Insurance/Healthcare "industry" is now more powerful, corrupt, incompetent, and privatized than ever before. The last great industrial union -- Walter Reuther's UAW -- was destroyed by Obama and his henchmen by means which would've made Ronald Reagan blanch. Most state and local governments are bankrupt and abandoned. All public service unions are now on the run in America's new form of McCarthyism. Obama has set us up for the coup de main: the Neo-Feudal dismantling of all public and egalitarian struggles and accomplishments of the past 150 years. Checkmate.

So many of us were fooled. So many of us were tired of being on the outs with our own society, so tired of hating and withdrawing. So tired of not having faith and optimism and good cheer, of not feeling the very human need to belong. We looked to Obama and thought of him as a child of Kennedy. Even the Kennedy family felt that way. We, and they, were had.

For Barack Hussein Obama is the child of Reagan. His first son. They were both born from the dark flow of Kennedy backlash in the early 1960s, Obama physically, Reagan politically -- both conceived, it would turn out, from the swamp of hatred toward what "the 60s" would come to mean: earnestness, optimism, a sense of community, grace, complexity, self-deprecation, hatred of the rich and big business, a refusal to demonize others and puff ourselves up, and (perhaps most important) the assumption that people are basically good -- the actor by cheerleading for Goldwater, and calling for the privatizing of TVA, nuking North Vietnam, eliminating the corporate income tax, and saying things like "Shouldn't someone tag Mr. Kennedy's 'bold new imaginative' program with its proper age? Under the tousled boyish haircut it's still old Karl Marx, first launched a century ago"; Obama by being tossed aside by absent, otherwise-engaged parents. . .

The assumption of Barack Obama cool, collected and calm has been a universal since this arriviste began to gain presidential timber throughout the campaign of '07. The media persona and Obama's two droning books convinced us that this "child of the 60s" was the very opposite of a hip-shooter: deeply thoughtful about most things; no personal experience with physical violence (has he ever been in a fist fight?); abstract and diffident; a professor from the Ivy League; most important, the child of a mother and father who separately personified the best of that glorious decade -- independent, free-spirited, anti-establishment, each with a virulent hatred of war and violence.

Now it seems altogether to the opposite. Rather than the happy product of such a union, perhaps Barry Soetoro experienced those years and those parents in a different way. An absent father, more concerned with his newer family, newer children, and political/diplomatic career than with the boy, to the extent that Obama never met his dad until the child was 10. And the absent mother: dumping her little boy onto maternal grandparents, also more concerned with lifestyle, lovers, and profession.

The baboons of the American Right have made hatred of the 60s their number one obsession for 40 years now. Nixon got elected on the wind of that hatred. So did Reagan. And George W. Bush made lots of hay in the darkness of that collective loathing. But theirs was political/power/values stuff. Not the result of private, everyday resentments, loneliness, confusion and heartbreak caused by the abandonment by two obviously self-absorbed parents. Barack Obama's 1960s hatred is honest and well-earned.

What if under the too-cool-for-school face burns a rage, a life- and self-hatred forever burning no matter what the ego satisfactions of the man's stunning career achievements? What if his whole public life has been little other than vengeance taken on absent parents and all they represented? What if he is just another ego-prick, assassin, liar, user? Now in charge of the greatest criminal enterprise in the history of Man -- Empire USA -- that would explain his spineless slimeball Presidency far more than any Miracle of Hope and Change smothered in its crib. A man whose identity is forever hidden because of his wayward parents grabs the ultimate brass ring by pretending to be an egalitarian Man of Peace, then governs as a Man of Total War, and the most lethal sort of elitist. How long can he contain such outrageous private contradictions on such a public stage?

Yet, eight years on, he still claims support. In fact, we are told he is now on a roll. Who are these supporters? They cannot be ideologues of any kind. (Those who see Nowhere Man as on the left or right of any political spectrum are just cheerleaders for their own brand of narcissism.) Aside from the enormous pride taken by black Americans at seeing a man who looks black at such a center of power, the rest must be that brood of iPad Sandinistas who basically adopt the following persona: "I'm smarter than you are. I'm more educated than you are. I dress better and have far better taste in music and movies. I'm cooler. My career is everything, plus I've memorized every episode of Lost. I'm on my second divorce and my kids are everything, except when they're not. I Twit, Kindle, and Kopi Luwak. And you don't." (Commander Kos would be the poster boy for this wad.) Not exactly attitudes one wants in a Sierra Maestra foxhole. No janitors here, nor watchmen, salesmen, grocers, bus drivers, plumbers, mechanics, railroad clerks, pharmacists, cloth cutters, electricians, security guards, pipe fitters or painters. No, all children of Reagan: a generation faced with no draft, no economic hardship if they play the game well enough (and Obama's remaining Pwog supporters do nothing but play the game), no industrialization, no assassinations, no race or gender revolutions, and remote control wars with no body bags allowed to be seen. And the leaders: a Reagan, a Clinton, and two Bushes.

Obama is King of the Nowhere People: born with looks, height, grace, eloquence. And the insides of a Cray CX1. He smells of nothing, sounds like room tone, makes faces like an Ogilvy & Mather ad director. After all the media pronunciamentos of his Great Speeches (most sickening the hysteria over his flatulent depoliticizing of the Loughner murders), try to remember just one line. (Rain puddles not allowed.) He's from Chicago, they say. Really? He's called a Kenyan? Huh? A product of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church. What? He is none of these. He is the Achiever severed from anything beyond the Achievement, a gentrified hologram of rootlessness, a product not only of many private demons but of an America without traditions, myth or meaning beyond the last branding cycle, of a coreless society.

It is all of us. Even as recently as one-year ago (in spite of the horror of the appointments, the turgid Inaugural, the already evident backsliding), the feeling was still alive that principle would matter, that the "weak" would have priority again over the "strong." How could we not think that? As Spring follows Winter, surely the fine and honorable part of our spirit would begin again to dominate. But experience does tell. We've been told little but buck up, keep your powder dry, and care only about yourself. "All for ourselves, nothing for others," in the words of Adam Smith. So the honor, the caring for others, the humility, compassion, patience, modesty, self-mocking wit, yes the bleeding heart, the "tender germ of embrace" in Simone Weil's words -- not here.

"The world for which I was made, is not here" - Thoreau.

The post-Bush/Reagan/Cheney/Clinton world this country was ready for, its only salvation from the coming darkness of collapse and terror, could not be made. There was much too much of the other stuff. In fact, it would be difficult to find what was not "the other stuff." Like a child beaten and deprived of all chance to use the sympathetic, empathic part of her heart, when we had to show it, we had nothing to show.

Take the debate over "health care reform." What that sickening and dispiriting process exposed is that there was nothing (on an establishment level) left of "the tender germ of embrace." What we saw was a war between fascist haters and greasy pole climbers. Sarah Palin vs. Rachel Maddow, Cheney vs. Biden, the Tea Party vs. the Salon.com Party, Fox News vs. MSNBC. What was exposed is that both sides are the same: my foot on your throat.

Two years on we now see that the main problem "liberals" were suffering since 2000 was merely being out of power. And now the main priority is keeping it, no matter how much principle is flushed or how many weasel legislative tricks need to be used. (And oh how those precedents will be used to create a Reichstag Fire-type Enabling Act under Palin, Petraeus, or Jeb Bush, when their time has come.)

Barack Obama, it turns out, is not some liberatory or revolutionary spirit. No, just a dime-a-dozen liar and hustler -- an arriviste of smarm -- and so the very appropriate role model for a generation of dick-swinging mediocrities and turncoats. He is our present, and our future: stand for nothing; stand-up for nothing; worship money; discard inconvenient friends and memories; exhaust yourself trying to convince others of your optimism and determination; be civil, compromising, dispassionate and groveling in the face of executioners ("Keep that Hate-o-Rade to yourself!"); make sure everyone thinks you're just swell; slather your face in moisturizer in order to better beam about your wonderful career and how everything is great.

He is Devo, and so are we.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Wisdom of the Heart


Henry Miller reads from his masterpiece essay, "To Paint is to Love Again."

Friday, November 13, 2020

Rainbow's End


Again, Smoke. If the Kennedy Years were a movie, which one? Like all things great and mysterious, it is a myriad: Psycho and The Birds. Lolita and Strangelove. Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Lilies of the Field and A Child is Waiting. Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, Fail Safe. The Apartment. The Ladies Man and Nutty Professor. One Eyed Jacks and The Hustler. Advise and Consent. Courtship of Eddie's Father.

This is the one; our wound. 'Though made during the time, it breathes with the stunned sense of heartbreak we would feel about the time, about New York City, about adoration and elegance and honor and a way of falling in love, about how people must have been, even if they weren't.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Then and Now

Dr. Michael Parenti from 1990: what the US Vampire State did to Eastern Europe; what the Biden Vampire State will attempt to do to the entire world.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Facing the Music


From 1973 to 1998, Arlene Croce was the world's greatest dance critic and her Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Book remains not only one of the premiere pieces of dance criticism, but also one of the most original pop culture books as well.

Here, she writes on what may be the greatest romantic dance ever filmed, "Let's Face the Music and Dance" from Follow the Fleet (1936):
It could be subtitled "A Playlet." Astaire at the gambling tables in Monte Carlo has just lost all his money. The curtains close and reopen on the terrace at the top of the casino. He is elaborately shunned by society. Alone, he takes out a small pistol, but just then Rogers appears at the far side of the stage, twisting a long chiffon handkerchief and gazing out over the parapet. She steps up on it but he prevents the leap. Ruefully he shows her his empty wallet and the gun which she looks at unseeingly, then tries to snatch. He throws both away and sings.
How they get through all this without a laugh is their secret. The song is like one of those brave ballads of the Depression and the mood is awesomely grave. The dance is one of their simplest and most daring, the steps mostly walking steps done with a slight retard. The withheld impetus makes the dance look dragged by destiny, all the quick little circling steps pulled as if on a single thread. A beautiful moment occurs when he promenades her as she holds a pose on half-toe with one lifted knee. Another when they circle the stage, turning first one shoulder then the other toward each other, and when she continues the tiny steps in a series of chaîné turns, her hands uplifted, and he follows with his arms encircling her waist. Still another: they turn away from each other in a swift kneel and as swiftly rise with a light jump, only to sink again on the other knee. Her dress, made of metallic threads and with weights in the sleeves and hem, winds and unwinds, a part of the dance. The exit, unforgettable, is another knee-sink but now side by side. Slowly they rise together and back off in a long fondu. Then: one, two, three, four paces, and they go off in a Jooss-type lunge, backs arched, one knee yanked high. At the suddenness and hugeness of it the audience does laugh, then immediately applauds its audacity.
What I find most moving in this noble and almost absurdly glamorous dance is the absence of self-enchantment in the performance. Astaire and Rogers yield nothing to Garbo's throat or Pavlova's swan as icons of the sublime, yet their manner is brisk. Briskly they immolate themselves. And within the enclosed theatrical setting of the number, everything finds its place.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Don't

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Worse Devil



Saturday, October 31, 2020

Magic


The best Halloween (and stop-action) movie I know: beautiful, haunted, strange, creepy, sad, sweet, very funny, and very moving.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Abby Says It

Friday, October 23, 2020

Despair

For Catholics, despair is the ultimate sin ~ for by its very nature, despair blames God for all things.

Still, considering where we all are now: how else are we supposed to feel?

Chris Hedges at the Sanctuary of Independent Media, October 16, 2020.