Friday, December 27, 2013

Precious Stones I

When Oliver Stone turned over the dozen parts of his documentary masterpiece Untold History of the United States to Showtime in the early fall of 2012, Showtime balked. They had contracted for only ten episodes -- the first to begin with World War II, the last ending with Obama's corporate totalitarian murder state. But Stone (with co-writer Peter Kuznick) had composed two "prequels" as well: prequel A covering the birth of US imperialism under McKinley through the end of World War I; prequel B continuing through the 1920s and 30s. The prequels were not broadcast. But they have been, alas, included in the just-released Blu-ray and they are -- like the rest of the series -- as beautiful and passionate as they are dark and despairing. Stone has found his place. He has become a great American filmmaker. Perhaps the only one we have, currently working.
"My goal is to make enough money so I can hire half of the American workforce to kill the other half." -- Jay Gould
Prequel A seeds the birth of the American war state in the ground of post-Reconstruction industrialization and the "end to frontiers." William McKinley found some: Cuba, Panama, the Phillipines. After his assassination by brave anarchist Leon Czolgosz, it was racist gangster Teddy Roosevelt's turn. Then devil iceman Woodrow Wilson. All done, all the wars and expansions and repressions and demonizations, to crush one thing: the nativist American socialism of the 1880s and 90s, and from the turn of the 20th Century. Yet out of worldwide carnage aided and abetted by Wilson and US capital, the Soviet State is born.

Precious Stones II

"The common man would now have to find his one-eyed way in the Kingdom of the Blind." -- Dos Passos
While literati such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Henry Miller move their feasts to Paris and gaze at their navels -- helping to fill the gap caused by the WWI deaths of half of all French males between the ages of 15 and 30 -- the pygmies known as the American Oligarchy regain full control, flushing whatever remains of late-19th / early-20th Century humanism, and roar their way through the 1920s: the decade of Prohibition, massive coast-to-coast KKK rallies, eugenics, the birth of Organized Crime, and major financing by American bankers of fascist movements across Europe. When things fall apart at the turn of the 30s, FDR steps in and saves US capitalism from (and for) the capitalists. Who don't see it that way.



(The original ten episodes of Untold History can be found on this blog, for the months of November / December 2012 and January / February 2013.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alex Cox

Has an old friend in Chris Floyd; and a terrific website and new book on what went down in Dallas, 50 years ago.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Onslaught


Pat Speer on the mass media's assault on truth, this autumn's 50th Anniversary of JFK's murder.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Supermen


Remarkable.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Little Match Girls

Jean Renoir's.



And my own.


Happy 9th Birthday
to the best daughter in the world!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ten plus One (minus two)


We're told there are over 10,000 books, mostly or wholly, about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy registered with the United States Library of Congress. Most are chum, illiterate or self-serving, off the point or below it, corrupt and venal, distracting or downright conspiratorial.

These are, in my opinion, the best eleven (with a coda). Meagher is the best place to start.


Accessories After the Fact (1967) by Sylvia Meagher

She was the first and remains in many ways the best and most comprehensive. Her fury at the flagrancy and incompetence (for this was an incompetent whitewash) of the Warren/Dulles/Hoover/LBJ cover-up -- and toward the whore mass media, a Sixties media whose bondage to Power was much weaker than our own -- burns through every page. Unlike most authors (good and swill) attracted to this topic, Meagher is a beautiful writer; and a great detective. Perhaps her best chapter is on the concoction known as the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. Not only does Meagher prove accused cop-killer Lee Harvey Oswald innocent, since not at the scene, but that Tippit's very strange movements before and after the assassination suggest that J.D. may have been offed by one of his own. A masterpiece getting more masterful through time, even though written only two years after release of the Warren Report and its 26 volumes of non-supporting evidence.


Six Seconds in Dallas (1967) by Dr. Josiah Thompson

The perfect early-stage companion to Meagher. Dispassionate and architectonic, Josiah Thompson takes us as far as anyone has toward knowing the (because of massive corruption and destruction of evidence and witnesses) unknowable: when and from where the Dealey Plaza shots came. With immense photographic and artwork detail, Six Seconds in Dallas proves the two shots from the front, one to JFK's throat, the other to his right temple; two shots from the rear, one to Kennedy's upper back, the second to the top right of his skull; a missed shot from behind, flying over the limousine, hitting a curbstone, and causing a chip which injured bystander James Tague; and a shot from behind traveling through Texas Governor John Connally (and unfortunately not killing him). Here, the Magic Bullet Theory is destroyed. The Single Bullet Theory is destroyed. And so is the Warren Commission's nonsensical time sequence. Thompson's amazing work was accomplished without access to a moving Zapruder film, the autopsy photos, or the Dallas police dictabelt recording of the shooting.


Conspiracy (1980) by Anthony Summers

The first major book written on the case after public release of the Z-film and the dreadful autopsy materials, and after completion of the post-Watergate investigations (the Rockefeller Commission, the Pike Committee, the Church Committee, the House Select Committee on Assassinations). Itself, it is a magnificent piece of investigative journalism, a trove of leads. Summers makes available to the general public for the first time: Rose Cheramie; the witnesses to the strange incident at Clinton, Louisiana during the summer of  '63; Lee Oswald working for Guy Bannister; David Atlee Phillips and David Morales; Oswald's curious route through Finland on his way to his Soviet "defection"; the impersonating of Oswald in Mexico City; the fake Secret Service agents behind the grassy knoll fence immediately after the shooting. Here, an Irish-born journalist does what no U.S. journalist dared to do, what no U.S. journalist would permit any colleague to even begin. However, one must emphasize the 1980 edition of the work. For tragically, Anthony Summers turned tail and became just another greasy pole climber, just another condescending defamer of serious researchers who reject the Lone Nut fairy tale. First in a 1994 eviscerating "update" of Conspiracy, now named (nonsensically) Not in Your Lifetime -- Summers climbing aboard the hate Oliver Stone / love Gerald Posner media gravy train. And last month Summers did it again, with a second downgrading "revision" -- again with the nitwit Not in Your Lifetime title -- in which he runs headlong into the dear arms of the Obamian corporate / media police state by bravely dumping on his own original research, on long-dead Jim Garrison, on long-irrelevant Mark Lane, on the ignored Joan Mellen, and on everyone else who has anything to do with anti-Establishment action or thought. No rebel he, is sniffy Summers. Anthony Summers, he dead. Conspiracy (1980) lives on.


On the Trail of the Assassins (1988) by Jim Garrison

The great American patriot and district attorney tells of his breaking of the case, of his trial and investigative innocence and incompetence, of his own destruction by FBI, CIA, Johnson Administration, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and his aides, television and newspaper media, and the cracker establishment of Louisiana. Garrison was not only a great patriot, but an elegant writer and storyteller. And a very funny one.


Spy Saga (1990) by Philip Melanson

A micro-view of the assassination. Actually, not about the assassination at all. Philip Melanson takes the dribs and drabs given to us by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, fills in many gaps through his own sleuthing and forensic genius, and gives us a Lee Harvey Oswald as an operative who was never really allowed to come in from the cold. Under Melanson, Oswald was recruited by military intelligence while in the Pacific as a Marine (perhaps even earlier courtesy of Civil Air Patrol leader David Ferrie), taught Russian at CIA's Monterey School of Languages, sent to the Soviet Union in 1959 as a false defector, brought back to the States (now with a Russian wife) in '62, and used as a "dangle" in up to a half-dozen covert ops in Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico City (mail order gun sales, anti- and pro-Castro infiltration, voter registration drives, Communist Party USA) until his ultimate dangling in Dealey Plaza on 11/22/63. An astonishing read of very scanty (and withheld and destroyed) evidence.


Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993) by Peter Dale Scott

Looking through the other end of the telescope from Phil Melanson, our greatest political historian maps Dallas with a macro-coverage, using much the same method: Scott links small pieces of evidence through an economic, political, and criminal labyrinth most of us could not begin to fathom; for what we are used to seeing, trained to see from birth, is the public state, the public economy, and a concept of crime embraced by everything from Batman to Dragnet, from Columbo to The Wire. What Scott brings to life here is what he calls the Deep State, a malignancy which was nascent throughout the 1940s and 1950s, what was fully born on 11/22/63, and what has since swallowed the public state whole: a parallel international secret power system, composed of mafias, private corporations, military cadres, intelligence and security and police apparatus; financed by drugs, stolen government dollars (the 2008 "bank bailout" being the largest and most historic example), corporate funding; engaging in illicit violence to protect the status and interests of the powerful. In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Dallas is the template, a template which since '63 has suffocated us all. Honore de Balzac was the greatest of all conspiracy theorists. Among modern English language historians, Peter Dale Scott comes the closest to him. A dense, sometimes opaque book not for the faint-hearted.


The Last Investigation (1993) by Gaeton Fonzi

Alas, it would be so. Gaeton Fonzi was lead investigator for the hopeful, degraded, hijacked, yet still valuable House Select Committee on Assassinations (1976-79), a committee whose final report would point to more than one shooter firing at the Dallas motorcade. Under enormously difficult conditions -- funding cut by Congressional reactionaries and intelligence stooges; blasphemed by the press; cut-off at the knees by feuding staffers (some of whom were double agents) -- Fonzi was a miner finding much golden ore. It was he who discovered the key witness (Antonio Veciana) linking patsy Oswald to Kennedy assassination ringleader David Atlee Phillips; linking Phillips to CIA / JMWAVE Miami station chief David Sanchez Morales (Morales would also participate in the CIA execution of Che Guevara in Bolivia four years after Dallas, a fascist murderer for all seasons); Fonzi would nail George DeMohrenschildt, Oswald's Texas handler, to the wall, until DeMohrenschildt's untimely death, the day before a crucial interview with Fonzi. For it is death which destroyed the Last Investigation. Beyond DeMohrenschildt, there are the murders of Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana, John Rosselli, top FBI administrator William C. Sullivan (supposedly shot when someone mistook him for a deer), Rolando Masferrer, Charles Nicoletti, Carlos Prio, Sheffield Edwards, William Harvey, David Morales, William Pawley, Thomas Karamessines, John Paisley: all murdered during HSCA's time, rivers of mid-70s blood, the glue holding together the fetid deep state system while it tottered. And my how it worked, leading to the Reagan Restoration -- and beyond. But not only blood. As Gaeton Fonzi tells it, one man castrated the HSCA from within: corrupt legal bagman, and Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey. It was Blakey who made sure all pointed toward Oswald, or the Mob (same distraction); all pointed away from CIA. Richard Sprague -- lion-hearted, unimpeachable, incorruptible, fearless Philadelphia D.A. Richard Sprague and his Chief Investigator Bob Tannenbaum were originally put in charge, before Blakey. Sprague was character assassinated  by the intelligence media, then fired. Tannenbaum quit. Leaving the HSCA to the stinking fixer Blakey. Gaeton Fonzi, a blessing, a hero, stayed on, giving us this brave, grand book.


Breach of Trust (2005) by Gerald McKnight

Professor McKnight's inside/outside investigative history is the first major work of the new century and it is the finest picture we have of what the Warren Commission truly was: a funnel for every piece of distortion, misrepresentation, false witness, suppressed witness, crime lab fakery, photographic fakery, autopsy fakery, ballistics fakery, Ivy League shyster and cover-up artist, ideological distortion, personality distraction, and psychobabble necessary to paint the Lone Nut fairy tale portrait -- composed, perhaps most disturbing, against a faux mournful tribute to the late President. McKnight makes clear: three men ran the Oswald Star Chamber, none of them named Warren: Kennedy assassin Allen Dulles, accessory-after-the-fact J. Edgar Hoover, and chief beneficiary of the crime Lyndon Baines Johnson. This is our J'Accuse!


Brothers (2006) by David Talbot

The most beautifully written, most passionate, and probably the saddest of all the books in the canon; rejecting all irony, camp, narcissism, deconstructionism, moral relativism, nihilism, sexual prurience and other malignancies of our time. John and Robert Kennedy were heroes. They were murdered by evil men. End of story. Talbot takes the top off the cesspool of enemies who brought down the US Government in 1963 and murdered the leading Presidential candidate of 1968. Who were the enemies? Sex haters, race haters, America-Firsters, oil junkies, mob guys, fascist intelligence agents, military dictators, tweed-covered garbage such as Dick Helms and Des FitzGerald, right-wing publishers and editors, drug executioners, psychopathic politicians, Goldwaterites. And that's the horror of the book. Fifty years later, what is left on a popular or establishment level of the idea that society and government must be judged by the way the weakest and most vulnerable among us are taken care of? The answer is: nothing. There is nothing left of that. Which is why the sense of doom and sorrow one takes from Brothers will be long lasting. The worst of our history murdered the best and got away with it. Scott free. Not only did they get away with it, but they've created the sort of society diametrically opposed to everything JFK and RFK stood for: a country where the least human and most nakedly aggressive dominate everything. This was the newer world others' sought. Born from the gore of Dealey Plaza, they've achieved it. For a bracing and deeply moving reminder of what was lost, one cannot do better than David Talbot's magnificent book.


JFK and the Unspeakable (2007) by James Douglass

If Talbot's Brothers is a tributary hymn-of-despair, Jim Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable is also a hymn, in a way a companion piece to the Talbot book. But Douglass's sound is a hymn of belief, hope, and transcendence. In Kennedy's murder by the forces of the Unspeakable, a contemporary crucifixion, Douglass sees meaning beyond the resulting Vietnam genocide, beyond the takeover of our society by back-stabbers, soul-crushers and ghouls, beyond the shifting of cultural meaning toward something hideously empty and narcissistic -- meaning in the symbol of a man willing to die for his beliefs, for his (in Douglass's term) "turning." One can argue with this, for at the heart of Douglass's profoundly spiritual argument, there is something anti-political. Rather than view John Kennedy's murder as a political and economic act by men who saw themselves only in those terms, we experience it through Douglass's writing as a modern day Stations of the Cross. First Station: Kennedy refuses war with Laos. Second Station: Kennedy refuses invasion and air attacks during the Bay of Pigs; Third Station: Berlin Wall goes up, Kennedy lets it stand. Etc. It is an agony, as we follow Kennedy's turning and his movement toward the Golgotha of Dallas. So what do we do? Much can be said for acceptance and a belief in transcendence, a belief in Grace. But as Jack Kennedy said: "Here on earth, God's work must truly be our own." Do we let this crucifixion stand? Do we accept the vampires now in almost total control? Do we take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them? Can they ever be ended here on earth? Do we let Catholicism be defined by Hitler-Jugend Joseph Ratzinger and his successor, men who led the war against Liberation Theology? Do we let Christianity be defined by Tim LaHaye and his life-haters? Such questions. That JFK and the Unspeakable forces us to ask them marks the Douglass book as a rare and beautiful masterpiece, one to go back to many times through the years.


Into the Nightmare (2013) by Joseph McBride

Amid the cascade of assassination books covering us this 50th Anniversary season, Joe McBride's is the best. This journey by one of our great film critics (works on Hawks, Ford, Capra, Spielberg, several on Welles) begins with his role as a 12-year-old volunteer during JFK's run in the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic primary. (Kennedy's state chairman was McBride's mother.) We follow the author through the agony of Dallas, his belief -- as a patriotic anti-Communist Irish-Catholic teenager -- in the bona fides of the Warren Report, his transformations -- via Vietnam, race riots, the murders of Malcolm / King / RFK, and Watergate -- into something very different, to his search for the truth of the day (as Norman Mailer wrote) the post-modern world was born. And what a start to the search: it was McBride in a 1988 Nation magazine piece who exposed then Vice President George H.W. Bush, then running against sap Michael Dukakis, as a CIA enforcer from way back, beginning in the late-1950s, and who was up to his preppie neck in the Texas intrigues of November '63. The most valuable and astonishing parts of Into the Nightmare are the very fresh and convincing sections concerning officer J.D. Tippit. Rather than the unknowable dumb cop who just happened to get in homicidal Marxist maniac Lee Harvey Oswald's way during his escape from Dealey Plaza, Joe McBride makes Jefferson Davis Tippit well known: as part of the plot to kill Kennedy, Tippit's role was to track down Oswald immediately after the ambush and gun him down, before arrest, before Oswald had any chance to declare himself a patsy. He also suggests that Tippit -- a crack shot -- may have been one of the gunmen in Dealey Plaza. A beautiful and stunning book, with rare photographs, streets maps, and analysis.

*
Other necessary titles: Jim DiEugenio's Destiny Betrayed (second edition) and Reclaiming Parkland; Jefferson Morley's Our Man in Mexico; Joan Mellen's Farewell to Justice; Robert Tannenbaum's Corruption of Blood; Cover Up by Gary Shaw; Harvey and Lee by John Armstrong; The Assassination Tapes by George O'Toole; Crime of the Century by Michael Kurtz; Don Thomas's Hear No Evil; The Man Who Knew Too Much by Dick Russell; Pat Speer's web work; Girl on the Stairs by Barry Ernest; Oswald in New Orleans by Harold Weisberg; Mark Lane's Last Word; John Newman's Oswald and the CIA.

*
Finally, two keystones from the Land of Fakery edifice.

Vince Bugliosi's Reclaiming History is a 3,000 page monument to True Believing in Official Fairy Tales. Unlike 90% of Reclaiming History commentators, I've actually read all 1,700 text pages, 1,000 pages of endnotes (outstanding endnotes), hundreds of source note pages, plus two photo sections. You must hand it to Mr. Bugliosi: he is the Joan of Arc of this event. Regardless of POV -- and of course his POV is to basically suffocate and de-mystify the mysterious -- one cannot but admire his passion and hard work. And, he is a very funny writer. His various descriptions of Oswald the Cheapskate, Oswald the Potential Jet Hijacker ("jumping around the house in his underwear, preparing athletically for the hijacking, only caused baby June to think he was playing with her"), Marina the Sex Maniac, Marguerite the Harpie (and the Sex Maniac). His best humor (and his nastiest spite) is left for the real chuckleheads in the research community: the pathetic Robert Groden, the hapless photo expert Jack White, Mark Lane's endless self-promotion etc. But the fatal problem with the book is its boy scout level worship of everything official. Bugliosi discredits most everything he writes because from early on we see that his prism is exactly what one would expect from an establishment-based former D.A. So the book is a valentine to the honor of Gerald Ford, Earl Warren, Allen Dulles, David Belin, Arlen Specter, Henry Wade(!), Jesse Curry, Will Fritz, J.Edgar Hoover(!!), every member of the Dallas Police Department (except Roger Craig), every member of the FBI, every member of the Clark Panel/Rockefeller Commission/HSCA/ARRB, every member of the Secret Service (except Abraham Bolden), every member of the mainstream media circa 1963-64, the Bethesda autopsy doctors, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dick Helms and James Angleton, those fine patriots David Phillips, David Morales, and Guy Bannister, plus every official crime lab Vince could think of. How touching. (Or as Vinnie would write, "my, my.") My-my indeed. What sort of world does Bugliosi live in? Are we really supposed to take on faith -- which is what one must do to accept much of the evidence he provides -- the honor of people involved in investigating such a history-changing event? Yes, we are. There must be a 1,000 instances in the text and endnotes along the lines of: "What kind of loonie-bird could believe [fill-in-the-blank] would jeopardize his life/career/reputation/freedom by covering up murder?" Well, where do we start? Sadly, the history of the world is one long continuing account of people in power doing exactly that in order to remain in power, exactly to keep their reputations/freedoms/careers. If a bunch of cheap Ivy League (and oh my how VB loves the Ivy League!) legal hustlers trying to make their bones are faced with the challenge of covering up a crime which if exposed would crack in two the very establishment they wish to enter and dominate, and if there is already plenty of proof that being offered that gig and turning it down for some kind of pusillanimous and righteous reason may lead to harmful effects (Ruby/Oswald being Exhibit A), the really confusing and naive conclusion would be to assume the hustlers would not grab for the brass ring. And to assume some sort of holy righteousness on the part of the apparatchiks who made up the Warren Commission, a personal morality that would lead John McCloy to stand up and say "Hey, Mr. Chief Justice. This stinks. And the odor is coming from my pal James Angleton's death-squad offices down at Langley, and from our Mexico City Station" -- to quote the great philosopher Michael Corleone: "Who's being naive, Vince?" If only the world and the powerful were that way. We know they are not. And surely former D.A. Bugliosi knows they are not. So one wonders what private ghosts he is trying to exorcise with this book. He's a brilliant man with a great sense of humor -- he can't possibly believe in the automatic honor of these people, can he? Is he trying to convince himself in a late stage of life that everything he did in service to establishment power was not so much sound and fury, signifying nothing? Is Mr. Bugliosi trying to make up for not becoming a revolutionary? Is he trying to avoid the same feeling Dave "Maurice Bishop" Phillips felt on his death bed, when he confessed to his estranged brother that "Yes" he was in Dallas on 11/22/63? -- the kind of feeling one gets when one looks toward eternity? I believe Mr. Bugliosi is -- unlike practically all members of great power elites -- an honorable man. There is no way someone creates this sort of work for the money. And it is heroic how far he went with his obsession. (In medieval times, like his role model Joan of Arc, he would've been burned at the stake.) An honorable book, however deranged.

No honor in the other, more typical, keystone. For it is something normally found in a dung heap. For thirty years, Norman Kingsley Mailer blew the trumpet of JFK assassination conspiracy, generally pointing his noise toward CIA, the military, and LBJ. As the 80s turned to the 90s, as Jim Garrison and Oliver Stone commandeered the discussions concerning how Power in America really works, and as Mailer married his 8th wife while his 7 previous brides were suing him for back alimony (half of whom he may have stabbed), this once-great, bravery-obsessed writer took on a pimp job offered up by Random House editor-in-chief and Reichsmarschall of the Culturally Depraved Sir Harold Evans. (Evans's immediately preceding hire was of some plagiarizing Botox-patient by the name of Gerald Posner.) Mailer's assignment turned into something called Oswald's Tale, which should have been called Mailer's Tail since the book is almost 700 pages of Norman Kingsley taking it up the bum from Warren Commission liars, U.S. fascist intelligence sources of all flavors, pathetic psycho-babble about Oswald's probable homosexuality (hence his need to shoot the virile JFK from behind), marriage counselor guidance, and "newly released" KGB forgeries concocted by Boris Yeltsin's mafia goons. For decades Mailer lived off the pose of being the most courageous dude -- and certainly most courageous writer -- in America: the Miller / Mailer / Manson man, Gore Vidal would call it. "God is not love. God is courage. And love is the reward." So it went. That we're all born with a cancer-gun inside us. That we're all faced with a moment when that gun is cocked, when we must choose between bravery and fear. If we fail to be heroic, the gun goes off. Cancer = cowardice. Norman Mailer lived for a dozen years after writing what surely is one of the most venal and corrupt books ever coming from a major writer. And it seems he did not die of cancer. Yet the cowardice contained within Oswald's Tale resounds with the force of an atomic blast.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Conspirators


The names of those who plotted, directly or indirectly, the murder of John F. Kennedy; and the names of those with foreknowledge of the plot. (Not inclusive.)
Allen Dulles
James Jesus Angleton
William Harvey
Lee Oswald
David Atlee Phillips
David Morales
Ann Egerter
Richard Helms
Desmond FitzGerald
McGeorge Bundy
Robert Maheu
Lawrence Houston
Frank Wisner
Ferenc Nagy
William Pawley
Tracy Barnes
Bill Bright
Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge
Ambassador Thomas Mann
Thomas Karamessines
Richard Cain
Colonel Boris Pash
J.C. King
Thomas Clines
I. Irving Davidson
Lt. Lucien Conien
Carl Jenkins
General Lyman Lemnizter
George Joannides
Sergeant Daniel Groth
E. Howard Hunt
Sheffield Edwards
General Thomas Power
Louis Bloomfield
Dr. Sidney Gottlieb
Hal Hendrix
Floyd Boring
Sam Halpern
Edward Lansdale
Lt. Col. George Whitmeyer
Sergio Arcacha Smith
Emilio Santana
Carlos Quiroga
William Sullivan
Ruth Paine
Henry Luce
Michael Paine
Cord Meyer
Eddie Bayo
Anne Goodpasture
Forrest Sorrels
John Rosselli
Eladio del Valle
Frank Sturgis
Mitch WerBell III
Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell
Richard Case Nagell
General Lucius Clay
Richard Bissell
Win Scott
Felix Rodgriguez
Elmer Moore
Jane Roman
Claire Booth Luce
John Martino
Rip Robertson
Jack Ruby
Thomas Eli Davis III
Emory Roberts
Jack Crichton
General Curtis Lemay
General Charles Cabell
Clint Murchison
Charles Willoughby
David Ferrie
Guy Banister
Ted Shackley
Cliff Carter
Lyndon Johnson

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nightmare on Elm Street

The best and most stylish documentary yet on Dallas (like Errol Morris with a purpose): Terrence Raymond's Evidence of Revision.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

50 Reasons. . .


. . . for 50 Years is Len Osanic's masterful YouTube series memorializing the November 22nd, 1963 Dallas coup. Osanic's weekly show -- Black Op Radio -- is a must listen for all those who care about what's happened to America and to the world.

Here, Osanic and author Joe McBride expose the cover-up role of the Media Industrial Complex.

Lost

What was, that day, per Oliver Stone.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Something Has Happened in the Motorcade. . .

The best and most complete compilation I know following the trip from Dallas Love Field to Parkland Memorial Hospital, made from all known photographs and home movies.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Welcome



Dallasites celebrate Thanksgiving, 1963.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oliver

With Amy Goodman, on Dallas 50 years later. Superb.



Part Two.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And Then Home. . .

"Why are you running?"
"Don't you know?
"No."
"Because I am longing. . . ."
-- Day of Wrath

It was born during Assassination Autumn, and no other American television series has ever been as drenched in sorrow and loss -- largely due to Pete Rugolo's music -- as this one. There's an ominous death rattle on the soundtrack, the death rattle of its time: a world of gasoline and bus stations, diners, local motels, drive-ins, stone cities, asphalt palaces, mechanic shops, coal trucks, great warehouses and amusement parks, factories and pool halls, steel mills -- a world where the air still smelled of the earth. And a power-saturated universe seething with conspiracies, all focused on the wrongly-accused of a famous murder, while the real murderer runs free. The mournful eyes of the star -- the eyes of a mountaineer -- and the voice -- like a wound in the throat -- match the eyes and timbre of the fallen leader.


It is hard to think of The Fugitive apart from the confusion and hurt the country must have felt as it began to realize the center of American life was passing the age where it could still look forward; now people looked back into memory, into the past of the nation. . .

"Landscape with Running Figures," Parts I and II.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Husband and Wife

"Ray Murdock's X-Ray," one of the best episodes from The Dick Van Dyke Show. And what a beautiful series it is, maybe the best ever: kind, gracious, graceful, elegant, very funny, modest, super smart, humane -- with (like the time of the show itself) always the good speaking.

At the center of the series is the loveliest and most realistic of TV marriages. Rob and Laura Petrie truly are the "marrying kind" -- and both are taken, by each other. End of discussion.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Naked and the Dead

A solid episode of Naked City as it completes its final season, made special by a very moving David Janssen (six months before The Fugitive) as an advertising man dying of leukemia. The hour (including original commercials) is pure atmosphere, created by simply turning on the camera. New York in '63 was still saying goodbye to the impression that once some single power had had the place in grip, had given it an emotional and architectural unity and splendor now lost and forgotten.

"On the Battle Front: Every Minute is Important"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Prelude and Opening


"When you love someone, you don't abandon them, no matter how they treat you."
-- Anthony Perkins in Psycho

The strobing, bristling, fractured malignancy of a black-and-white TV image. Music with no break, no rest, an endless loop of driving hysteria. And the star, the nominal star, with her name at the end of the acting titles.

A drift across the landscape of a seasonless hotbox. Phoenix, Arizona -- one of many urban weeds sprouted in the postwar explosion of Western cowboy economies. This is the middle of December?  Yes, it is Friday, Crucifixion day. We move toward a gargoyle of a building. No, beyond it, to the left. Now toward what appears to be the Texas School Book Depository. We enter it, the window. Is Lee Harvey Oswald waiting for us on the other side (as he was not on that other Day of Crucifixion)? Indeed he is.

I can think of no other previous piece of American popular culture containing a character such as the one we will meet: a young sexually-frustrated male loner who takes his frustrations out in mad violence. The 1960s (and beyond) begin here: Oswald, Bremer, Hinckley, Speck, Whitman, Raymond Shaw, Sirhan, Ray, Manson. Most of them were much more than lone killers, most with deep and sinister intelligence connections. But the myth is born here. How did Hitchcock know?


The divorced, debt-ridden poonhound looms over his latest catch, a girl so lathered up she never ate her egg salad sandwich or drank her bottle of pop, although it is already quarter-to-three, a lengthy lunchbreak. They entangle again, and we notice the mole on the girl's upper back and the stiffness of the man's Brylcreemed hair ('though not as stiff as is John Gavin). She breaks away from his touch and his glibness, to dress and to leave. Each act and word of longing from her is met with lounge-lizard glibness, or self-pity, from the man. "Will you lick the stamps?" he asks her, referring to the alimony he must mail to his run-away, far-away ex-wife. "I'll lick the stamps" she answers -- a moment always getting hoots from film students and revival crowds. Actually, a cause for one of the most heartbreaking zooms in movie history. When he asks her if she wants to leave him, she says "I'm thinking of it" -- a lie, for she winds up destroying her job, reputation, family, and her life, by stealing $40,000 for him, for their marriage. When he mentions marriage, he says she'll swing. What does he mean? An open marriage, perhaps? The sorrow of it; and the blinds -- draped over the world she imagines, one she will never have.


One thinks of the final shot of the work, of the white car being pulled from the black muck. The terror of it is obvious: Herrmann's music, the cut to it from Bates in his padded cell and the dissolve to the skeleton below his face. But something more. We have just listened to Simon Oakland's demystifications, his social psychology babble "explaining" Norman. Where is Marion's story here? Where is her pain and confusion and sadness and loneliness? Why is this attractive woman so desperate to marry? Why has she stayed in that nothing job for 10 years? Why does she still live with her ice-cold sister Lila? (Both the boyfriend and Lila remain affectless at the end, when told of Marion's murder.)

Marion's story is buried with her. That is the real terror. A story Hitchcock tells in a chain of masterpieces embracing female suffering, but not here. Bergman in Notorious. Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Vera Miles in The Wrong Man. Novak and Bel Geddes in Vertigo. Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette in The Birds. Hedren in Marnie. Far from being a cold manipulator of movie audiences, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the deepest feeling (and greatest) artists of the 20th Century.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghosts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Murder Pimp

From Chris Floyd:
Just a reminder: this is the true nature of the bipartisan, militarized "security state" now headed by the progressive Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. When you support the Laureate -- however "savvily" and "critically" -- when you support the system -- hoping to "reform" it from within -- this is what you are supporting. From the Guardian:
The last time I saw my mother, Momina Bibi, was the evening before Eid al-Adha. She was preparing my children's clothing and showing them how to make sewaiyaan, a traditional sweet made of milk. … The next day, 24 October 2012, she was dead, killed by a US drone that rained fire down upon her as she tended her garden.

Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed – a 67-year-old grandmother of nine.

My three children – 13-year-old Zubair, nine-year-old Nabila and five-year-old Asma – were playing nearby when their grandmother was killed. All of them were injured and rushed to hospitals. Were these children the "militants" the news reports spoke of? Or perhaps, it was my brother's children? They, too, were there. They are aged three, seven, 12, 14, 15 and 17 years old. The eldest four had just returned from a day at school, not long before the missile struck. ...

We want to understand why a 67-year-old grandmother posed a threat to one of the most powerful countries in the world. We want to understand how nine children, some playing in the field, some just returned from school, could possibly have threatened the safety of those living a continent and an ocean away.

Most importantly, we want to understand why President Obama, when asked whom drones are killing, says they are killing terrorists. My mother was not a terrorist. My children are not terrorists. Nobody in our family is a terrorist.

My mother was a midwife, the only midwife in our village. She delivered hundreds of babies in our community. Now families have no one to help them. And my father? He is a retired school principal. He spent his life educating children, something that my community needs far more than bombs. Bombs create only hatred in the hearts of people. And that hatred and anger breeds more terrorism. But education – education can help a country prosper.

I, too, am a teacher. I was teaching in my local primary school on the day my mother was killed. I came home to find not the joys of Eid, but my children in the hospital and a coffin containing only pieces of my mother.

Our family has not been the same since that drone strike. Our home has turned into hell. The small children scream in the night and cannot sleep. They cry until dawn.
Drone strikes are not like other battles where innocent people are accidentally killed. Drone strikes target people before they kill them. The United States decides to kill someone, a person they only know from a video. A person who is not given a chance to say – I am not a terrorist. The US chose to kill my mother.
No, Barack Obama didn't physically push the button on this particular murder. That was done by some video-game jockey sitting in a padded chair somewhere, very safe, very protected. But the murder was a direct result of the decisions made by the "Commander-in-Chief" to set up a framework of state murder -- sorry, "extrajudicial assassination" -- sorry, "protection for the security of the American people" -- that allows any number of lower-level agents and officers to carry out these high-tech mob hits on their own authority, for their own reasons. (Though no doubt these decisions are processed through a complex and sophisticated "decision matrix" made up of multifarious determining factors -- like, "Dark-skinned bodies in an open field; could be terrorists; what the hell, rub 'em out.")

Of course, the Commander-Laureate does, like Stalin, personally sign off on death lists on a regular basis, giving the direct order for a rub-out. But as heinous as the White House death squad is, the murder program is actually far more widespread than that, with faceless bureaucrats -- military and civilian (if indeed these distinctions still have any real meaning in our militarised and paramilitarized security state) -- making the call to kill as they see fit. We have no idea who these people are, or how or why they make their choices to kill, or who they will target next.

This is the system we have now. This is what you must deal with -- not the hallucinatory fantasy where a good guy "progressive" battles heroically against the bad guy "teabaggers," and needs our help to keep him on the good path toward "reform." It's not a comic book, it's not a civics book, it's a not a movie with a happy ending. It's a brutal, murderous, lawless, dangerous, out-of-control engine of destruction, encompassing the entire political establishment and all those who support it, politically and financially.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spill It

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Schooled


Toddler Maggie learns much in less than 5 minutes, for evil and for good.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Speak


James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable is not only the greatest book ever written on John F. Kennedy's execution, but on his life and Presidency as well. Out of the darkness, Douglass creates a hymn of faith, hope, and transcendence. In Kennedy's murder by the forces of the Unspeakable, a contemporary crucifixion, Douglass sees meaning beyond the resulting Vietnam genocide, beyond the takeover of our society by back-stabbers, soul-crushers and corporate ghouls, beyond the shifting of cultural meaning toward something hideously empty and narcissistic -- meaning in the symbol of a man willing to die for his beliefs, for his (in Douglass's term) "turning." One can argue with this, for at the heart of Douglass's profoundly spiritual argument, there is something anti-political. Rather than viewing Jack Kennedy's murder as a political and economic act by men who saw themselves only in those terms, we experience it through Douglass's writing as a modern day Stations of the Cross. First Station: Kennedy refuses war with Laos. Second Station: Kennedy refuses invasion and air attacks during the Bay of Pigs; Third Station: Berlin Wall goes up, Kennedy lets it stand. Etc. It is an agony, as we follow Kennedy's turning and his movement toward the Golgotha of Dallas.

The very talented Seth Jacobson and Oliver Hine have been preparing a graphic novel adaptation of the Douglass masterpiece, with little interest shown -- despite the original book's popularity upon Simon & Schuster's paperback release -- by American publishers. Jacobson & Hine need your help. If you can assist, please head over to Kickstarter.

Land without Grief

The great David Thomson on Parkland, the latest piece of reactionary mythomaniacal dreck from Tom Hanks.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Wicked


"To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted.’

Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair."
-- Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free: Germans 1933 - 45

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hand Job

Occupy (et al.) and the War on Syria.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"He Did Not Bring a Rifle to Work That Morning"

Lee Harvey Oswald's driver, Buell Wesley Frazier, the morning of 11/22/63.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Démarche

Summer in ObamaLand.









Imagine this Death Squad Commander/War Criminal/House Nigger daring to stand in Dr. King's place, on the eve of attacking Syria.


(Click on the Lichtenstein, for the real thing.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In Your Place

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sugar

The #1 song of '63, featuring a person who embodies that magical year as well as anybody.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Apart

We've all heard Kind of Blue -- one of the great achievements of 20th Century music -- many times, on vinyl, tape, CD. "Legacy Edition" is best.


What's overwhelming is the quiet, the spacing, the stillness . . . . and the growing sense of separation and aloneness among the men as we move through the five main pieces. An absolute must have.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beauties and Beasts

Abby Martin rips future press secretary in a Hillaroid Administration a new one.



And speaking of Hillaroid: ya gotta love Republicans! (And they're right -- none of the whiny little pwogs so upset now had any problems slappin' around the lovely Ms. Palin.) Slap that bass!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Falling

Human Chris Floyd lost his dad earlier this year. Last week, his mom passed as well.

Out of sorrow, greatness.
United We Fall

It is a commonplace of our commentariat to say that American society is deeply divided -- indeed, perhaps more polarized than it's ever been before. Of course, this leaves out any number of emblematic events that might possibly undermine their blazing insight -- like, say, the Civil War, Haymarket, Selma, Little Rock, Watts or Kent State, to name but a very few historical instances of “polarization." But then, willful ignorance has always been the coin of our realm, the golden ticket to the circles of power -- or, for the commentariat, the fearful, bootlicking fringes of power. For these sages, history begins and ends with whatever is gurgling in the unflushed toilet of Beltway politics right here and now.

So it should come as no surprise to find that the truth about American society today is the opposite of what these cud-dripping masticators of conventional wisdom are wont to opine. Far from being a house divided, America is actually in the midst of an era characterized by remarkable unanimity. In fact, I would go so far as to say that American society has never been so united and uniform than it is today.

Yes, "hot button" issues -- centered, as always, around genital activity and gender roles -- remain heatedly contentious. Yes, the chronic, virulent racism on which our society was (literally) built continues to sicken the body politic. And yes, Tea Party trogs and NetRootsy progs still hurl insults across an ever-widening cultural abyss, each side increasingly regarding the other more as separate species than political opponents. Who can deny that our public discourse grows ever more harsh, frenzied, aggressive and stupid?

And yet, the fact remains that on those issues which truly concern our elites -- the issues on which their continued (and expanding) dominance and privilege depend -- here we find remarkable (not to say alarming) agreement across a depressingly broad swath of American society.

The Obama years have given us an America that looks something like a bad Kurt Russell movie from the 80s: a weird, garish dystopia, where the president runs a death squad out of the White House, wages robot wars in foreign lands, operates a techno-panopticon sucking up every message, musing and secret desire of the populace, and lets tens of millions of citizens sink into poverty and despair in their gutted communities and crumbling infrastructure while he doles out trillions of dollars to rapacious elites gleefully bleeding the country dry. Actually, if you tried to run this scenario past a few coked-up studio execs in those halcyon years, they would have rejected it out of hand as too unrealistic, even for a bad Kurt Russell movie. Yet this is our reality.

Add to this such things as the corporate-backed ALEC movement stifling the ability of the people’s elected representatives to pass measures on matters of vital importance to their communities, such as gun violence, pollution, collective bargaining, etc; the return of Jim Crow laws openly designed to rob the dusky races (and poor white trash) of access to the ballot box; the incarceration of a greater percentage of its own population than any regime in human history; the reckless sell-off of public services, public lands and the environment itself to frackers, venture cap vultures and other corporate profiteers; and the relentless persecution of any government employee who dares to inform the people of even a few of the sickening crimes being done in their name.

This hardly exhausts the litany of abuses, punishments and humiliations to which Americans are subjected daily. They live in a pestilent swelter of authoritarianism and militarism, of fear and insecurity, of ugliness and hopelessness that few if any generations of Americans before them have ever known. And yet …

Where are our Selmas, our Haymarkets, our Marches on Washington? Where is the anger, the outrage, the action? True, the Occupy movement blossomed for a season, and the seeds it sowed may yet bear good fruit. But for the most part, most sectors of American society have remained notably quiescent, when they have not been downright supportive. (This includes the African-American community, which today, as always, is bearing the brunt of our elites’ depredations. For more on this tragic development, see Glen Ford and his indispensible Black Agenda Report.) Congressional and media ‘liberals’ take to the airwaves to defend Obama’s Stasi-like spy ops, his death squads, his drone wars, his force-feeding torture of Guantanamo prisoners long cleared for release. They hotly condemn the ‘narcissistic’ Edward Snowden for revealing state crimes – yet happily revel in leaks that depict our noble, thoughtful president consulting Thomas Aquinas before ordering American citizens (and countless, nameless others) to be murdered without charge, trial or defense.

Every day, all across the world – and in the holy-moley Homeland itself – Obama commits and countenances crimes beyond the wildest dreams of LBJ and Richard Nixon. Every day he helps tighten the stranglehold of rampant militarism and corporate power on the lives of the people. Yet there are no riots, no uprisings, no public or institutional dissent that might trouble the complacency of our overlords.

A “divided society?” Would to god we had one. For beneath the gaudy spectacle of hot button-pushing and the scattering of a few crumbs of cultural change, a drab, grim conformity to the overarching agenda of elite power reigns supreme.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

This Could Be the Start of Something Big


At last, they begin to emerge. And with timing almost as brilliant as Mr. Allen's.

Until now, nothing of Steve Allen's late-night TV work of the 50s and 60s had been available on DVD. Nor on places such as YouTube. And not much now either, but we do have a start. (En garde, two dumb Jimmies!) What with the ongoing late-night wars, and especially with flyspeck Fallon not only taking over Steve's old show but doing it in the very same NBC midtown studio space -- well, as Nixon used to say, now more than ever. . .

Westinghouse. August 15, 1962. Amid spacious views of early-60s nighttime L.A. and its cars, Steve plays piano on top a 75-foot flagpole while peeking into neighboring hotel rooms, talks to the passing KTLA traffic copter, and tosses down salamis to his waiting fans on Vine Street. Back in the studio, Steve does a duet with an audience member, teases a pregnant lady, gets involved with a gas experiment that falls flat, teaches us about Mexican jumping beans (there are worms inside?). Introduces his guests: singer Bill Kerry (?), the great and sadly forgotten Slim Gaillard (look at those hands!), and the very young Barbara McNair. Steve finishes by sharing mattresses with a very fetching blonde baby doll (without a single dirty joke), and lets the baby doll take over the show by letting Miss Mattress call her law student husband (who had a very important test that day), and then lets her belt out a rockin' version of "Hallelujah, I Love Him So." Little is planned, or what's planned is turned on its head. Nothing is locked in. Steve takes us wherever the moment takes us.

Just an average Allen show. No topicality, meanness, elitism, condescension, cynicism, or hate. In their place ~ good cheer, silliness, and lots and lots of smart. (Those thinking there's a connection between comedic smarts and Knowingness deserve garbage such as Fallon.)

When we were carefree. . . .

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What the Summer of '63 Was Really Like

Thank you, Del Tenney -- Master of the Zoom!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Light

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is signed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Threat