Sunday, December 10, 2017

From Allen to Fallon


Is there a more precise embodiment of the "comedy" aspects of our smirking prick HiDefecation culture than a flyspeck known as Jimmy Fallon? Not only does Fallon's material seem like something shat out by a bunch of luded dimwits (and lapped up by his equally luded, I guess, live audience), but Fallon's delivery and timing make the dead seem creative. And such Coolness! (This from a pimp for the crime combine known as Capital One Bank.) How the heck did this guy get his own late-night talk show? How the heck did real estate gangster Donald Trump get to be President of the United States? Both by being psychopathically ambitious Nowhere Men, I guess.



Could this, and the four-eyed tubby sidekick, be parody?



What makes Fallon even more sickening is that he and his gimmick occupy the same Midtown NBC studio space once occupied by the greatest talk show host of all time (and pretty much forgotten), Steve Allen.



Most great stuff from 1950s and early-60s television has been remastered and Blu-rayed. Not Allen's. At the moment, nothing of Steve Allen exists on DVD/Blu-ray or is planned for release, which must make pygmies such as Jimmy Fallon feel very safe.

Legend has it that one night in the late-50s, Allen passed out lemons to all members of his studio audience, then led the audience outside to launch an attack on a nearby fruit stand, run by a guy who'd been mean to Allen earlier that week -- an attack which today would give birth to 10,000 lawsuits and have Allen and his audience immediately arrested as a terrorist organization.

Steve Allen!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Teen

Thirteen years of wonder and beauty and joy.

Thank you to the best daughter in the world.

Happy 13th Birthday!!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Origins of the 21st Century

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Godard.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Apropos of Nothing

Other than the beginning of the month of Joy.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Rain Girls

Rain, rain, rain here in November New York and maybe snow tomorrow! . . . what to do?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gone with the Wind

But not in John Kahrs's lovely Paperman (2012).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday

Pope Francis:
We worship an economic system which values the God of money over human beings. A system that uses billions to rescue banks during times of financial crisis, but fails to invest even one thousandth of that money to help refugees and migrants fleeing their home countries who die in the Mediterranean Sea during their journey.

What is wrong with the world today? When a bank files for bankruptcy there's an immediate, outrageous sum of money, but when this bankruptcy occurs in humanity there's not even a one-thousandth portion to save these brothers who suffer so much? We must free ourselves from the economic ties that produce an attachment to material things such as luxury cars and designer clothing.

I am often asked if this means a Marxist type of society. Well, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom.

Unfortunately, often these policies are opposed by populations that are afraid of losing jobs and of lower wages. Money is against the poor as well as against immigrants and refugees, but there are also poor people in rich countries who fear the arrival of their fellows from poor countries. It is a vicious circle and it must be broken.

We must break down the walls that divide us: we must try to increase well-being and make it more widespread, but to achieve this we need to break down walls and build bridges that allow us to reduce inequality and increase freedom and rights.

No one should be forced to flee his or her homeland. But the evil is doubled when, facing terrible circumstances, the migrant is thrown into the clutches of human traffickers to cross the border. And it is tripled if, arriving in the land where he or she hoped to find a better future, one is despised, exploited or even enslaved.

The gap between the peoples and present-day forms of democracies is widening ever-more due to the enormous power of economic and mediatic groups that seem to dominate. Because fear, besides being good business for merchants of weapons and death, weakens and destabilizes us, destroying our psychological and spiritual defenses, anesthetizing us to the suffering of others and, in the end, making us cruel.

Do not fall into the temptation of being put into a box that reduces you to secondary actors or, worse, to mere administrators of the existing misery.
The great Leonard Cohen, RIP:
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Man Died That Day


And a husband. And a father. R.I.P.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Citizen Lane


Pauley Perrette's moving memorial of an extraordinarily brave man who should never be forgotten.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Let It Bleed


Part Manchurian Candidate, part Sci-Fi, part detective story, "The Inheritors" is pure Kennedy Culture. (And a great example of what Mad Men was not -- a show about as cold and plastic as was Barack Obama's heart.) Intentionally scheduled by Outer Limits creators in honor of the one-year anniversary of Dallas, this is a heart that bleeds.

Four Vietnam combat soldiers miraculously survive bullets to the brain; subsequently, they embark on a shared mission which controls and confuses them, and arouses the hostile suspicions of government agents. Eventually the soldiers and agents discover that the mission involves kidnapping children, and only at the end do they discover its next step.

The Other as evil vs. the Other as not other: a driven visionary collective of men attempting something risky and noble, while paranoid Feds hound and revile them, suspecting only the worst in their motives, actions, and results.

As Fed Robert Duvall masticates the scenery, the great Steve Ihnat steals it as Lieutenant Minns.

The ending.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Melted


“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never melted." -- D.H. Lawrence

A Child is Waiting (1963) is, sadly, best known for its violent on-set conflict between director John Cassavetes and producer Stanley Kramer, a conflict ending with Cassavetes storming off set during late production and returning only to punch Stanley Kramer (who had taken over as director) in the chops. Yet the finished product -- dramatically unlike anything Cassavetes created before or after -- is extraordinarily moving and as representative of its time as any movie made during those very human years.

Set in an upstate New York hospital called Crawthorne (interiors actually filmed at Pacific State Hospital in California, with all street shots surrounding Crawthorne amazingly filmed on the same street sets used in Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, and Leave It To Beaver), the story follows a boy named Reuben (Bruce Ritchey), mildly retarded yet abandoned by his arriviste parents (Steven Hill and Gena Rowlands, Casssavetes's wife); the woman who falls in love with him, a newly arrived caretaker at Crawthorne (Judy Garland); and the man who runs the place, Dr. Matthew Clark (Burt Lancaster). Every moment of the movie drips with sorrow. And we wonder: Where are these children now? Where are the retarded? Why do we never see them anymore in movies or on television? Why are they never mentioned? Are there so much fewer of them? (In this toxic culture?) Or are they, like everything else not part of Happy Apple iSland or Fox Hee-Haw, made to be invisible?


The children, aside from Reuben, are the only happy people we see. Everyone else, especially the beautiful Miss Garland who performs here with an incomparable emotional nakedness, moves through the work wearing a crown of thorns. Everybody here is wounded and broken. Reuben's abandoning parents are paralyzed by their own sufferings, in their love for each other, in their love for the boy. (And oh does this couple deserve a movie of their own. And I suppose, in a much different key, they were given that many times over in Cassavetes's 70s masterpieces and in particular his Love Streams [1984], perhaps the greatest American movie of the 1980s.) Lancaster, one of the true naturals of screen history, clearly plays a Kennedy figure, struggling with his need to dominate, struggling with his own helplessness in the face of causes and creations which may be as immovable as God's will. And Garland. She was near the end of her strange and perhaps insane ride in the early 1960s (she would die before the end of the decade and this would be her penultimate work); here she makes clear that all she needed to be great was something (someone) to believe in, and who would believe in her.

As did an adoring past husband.



It is a project not destined for JC. And it is not hard to imagine why he prickishly demanded his name be taken off it. His contribution (and intentions) can be felt in the more out of control scenes between Hill and Rowland, in the scenes with the children where we are made to feel uncomfortable, even made to feel a loathing toward their faces and voices. It can most deeply be felt in the horrific sequence where Lancaster takes Garland to experience the retarded in middle-age. Perhaps Cassavetes wanted to turn the story into his version of Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor, also from '63. Perhaps he did, since he made the bizarre choice of casting himself -- unrecognizable -- as the freakiest of the adult retarded. If so, let us congratulate Stanley Kramer on stopping him. One Shock Corridor -- 'though a masterpiece -- is enough.


There is no argument to be made against the monumental greatness of John Cassavetes, director -- a body of work artistically dwarfing Kramer's. But perhaps his loner cinema was inappropriate for an era of mainstream earnestness and the embrace of communal action.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Wisdom of the Heart


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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Between Sorrow and the Shadow

"Au hasard Balthazar is the world in an hour and a half" -- Jean Luc Godard

Mouchette (1967) and Au hasard Balthazar (1966) are the two darkest, and most Catholic, great films ever made. In both works, innocents -- a girl and a donkey -- suffer their own Stations of the Cross -- beaten, raped, whipped, abandoned, slapped, burned -- and then die. Both works are anthologies of sadism, ending in moments of Transfiguration; one in a pond, the other on a hillside; both to pieces of sacred music. However, little is divine. We are faced with a hard, physical world of muddy fields and of things and of objects; and forces of control and imprisonment. Director Robert Bresson's double miracle turns a suffocating austerity into endless plenty; so oblique and concentrated are Mouchette and Balthazar, they become the walls of a collapsing hell. And then home.

Bresson was interviewed in late 1966, between the making of the two movies.

Sorrow

The Shadow

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Do Not

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Way We Live Now


When the great Robert Hughes died in 2012, he left behind a body of criticism unmatched by any other English-language art critic of the 20th- (or 21st-) century: in print (The Fatal Shore, Nothing If Not Critical, Barcelona, American Visions, Things I Didn't Know); in lectures; on screen (The Shock of the New, American Visions, Goya). His love and understanding of hundreds of years of Western creation were exceeded only by his genius at putting us inside that love. And by his despair. Hughes's first and perhaps greatest masterpiece was the 1979-80 book and television series The Shock of the New. Even in those early days Hughes fears and warns us about what is to come: the commodification of not only all forms of human art, but all forms of human life. He saw it coming; and it came, worse than Hughes or anyone else could have imagined. And it broke his heart.

2008's The Mona Lisa Curse was his swan song, a hymn of despair for all that had been lost: a faith in the power of art to make things better, to change the world, to change men's souls, to heal and to sooth, to take us out of ourselves rather than to drive us back into separation and confusion, art's desire to know and to tell the truth, its unremitting earnestness. As it would turn out, Hughes would tilt at capitalist windmills the whole of his marvelous career, because even in 79-80 (before Reagan!) all these things were already going, going from our hearts, paving the way for the Time of the Assassins: Koons, Schnabel, Basquiat, Richard Prince, Salle, Baudrillard, Damien Hirst, Mapplethorpe, Longo, the Whitney. Worse was to come, of course, yet Robert Hughes kept tilting for us, kept reminding us.
Forty or even thirty years ago anyone, amateur or expert, could spend an hour or two in a museum without wondering what this Tiepolo, this Rembrandt, this de Kooning might cost at auction. Thanks to the unrelenting propaganda of the art market this is no longer the case, and the imagery of money has been so crudely riveted onto the face of museum-quality art by events outside the museum that its unhappy confusion between price and value will never again be resolved. It is like the bind in the fairy tale: At the bottom of the meadow a treasure lies buried. It can be dug up -- under one condition: that while digging, you do not think of a white horse.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

For the 29th Consecutive Year. . .

THE DODGERS DID NOT WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Magic


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

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Revolution!


100 years ago: the greatest and most human event of the 20th-century was born. (Due to technology and worldwide U.S. vampirism, something absolutely impossible today.)

Background:



Victory!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What is to Be Done?


Leon Trotsky's history of the Russian Revolution:

Part One.

Part Two.

Part Three.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saviour

"I know there is a God -- and I see a storm coming;
 if He has a place for me, I believe that I am ready."
-- John F. Kennedy
He was the only one. The only one in the Administration who refused to attack the island. The only one who stood up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood up to the rest of his National Security State (which wasn't his at all), stood up to the established media chorus calling for invasion and air strikes, stood up to the strategic coup being organized behind his back by one of his future killers, Lyndon Johnson. As we now know, the Cubans and Soviets had operational battlefield nukes which, if fired, would have taken out Miami, Washington DC, and New York City. Hence, the end of the world. At every turn, he refused confrontation. When the missiles and sites were discovered. When he ordered the blockade of Cuba, and the Soviet ships approached the quarantine line, he pulled that line back -- four times. When the Soviet tanker Bucharest, almost certainly not carrying any missiles or other armament, steamed toward the blockade line, he decided to let it proceed to Havana, again against all advice. Privately, Kennedy had begun to doubt the validity of the CIA photos, ostensibly proving the existence of the Soviet missiles. (CIA had doctored photos before, during the Bay of Pigs.) When Rudolf Anderson, Navy flier, was shot down in a National Security State covert operation directed against Kennedy by sending -- against direct White House orders -- a U-2 surveillance flight over the island at the hottest moment of the crisis, he kept the shoot down quiet until the crisis was over. "He chickened out again!" bellowed Air Force General Curtis LeMay. (A further anti-Kennedy covert op also involved a U-2: one just happened to "stray" low over Soviet territory, then was "rescued" by nuclear-armed F-102s back to base.)
"There was now the feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans and Soviets and Cubans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling. But again the President pulled everyone back. . ." -- Robert Kennedy
When two letters arrived from Khrushchev -- the first agreeing to all United States demands, the second belligerent and escalatory -- Kennedy decided to proceed as if the second letter never arrived. (JFK would later agree, after the crisis was settled, to all the Soviets had asked for, in the second hard-line letter.) In the most dangerous moment in human history, when all force was on his side, he refused all force. As he whispered to his brother as the Joint Chiefs started clamoring for a first-strike against Moscow: "And we call ourselves the human race. . . I think of all the children in the world who have no idea what the United States or the Soviet Union even are. Well, better Red than dead."

Better Red than dead. Was this heard by anyone else? James Douglass:
For at least a decade, JFK’s favorite poem had been "Rendezvous" by Alan Seeger, an American poet killed in World War One. Kennedy recited "Rendezvous" to his wife Jacqueline in 1953 on their first night home in Hyannis after their honeymoon. She memorized the poem, and recited it back to him over the years. In the fall of 1963, Jackie taught the words of the poem to their five-year-old daughter, Caroline.

On the morning of October 5, 1963, President Kennedy met with his National Security Council in the Rose Garden of the White House. Caroline suddenly appeared by her father’s side, and she said she wanted to tell him something. He tried to divert her attention while the meeting continued, but Caroline persisted. The president smiled and turned his full attention to his daughter. He told her to go ahead. While the members of the National Security Council sat and watched, Caroline looked into her father’s eyes and said:
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air-
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath-
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
After Caroline said the poem’s final word, “rendezvous,” Kennedy’s national security advisers sat in stunned silence. One of them said later the bond between father and daughter was so deep “it was as if there was ‘an inner music’ he was trying to teach her.”

Henry Miller often wrote that each of us are placed here on earth in order to learn one lesson. We then move on. It is hard to appreciate John Fitzgerald Kennedy's life apart from its ending -- a manner of ending surely influenced by his actions during the Missile Crisis. Yet perhaps the miraculous singular purpose of his life was to save us all. For he did.

The Monday night, October 22nd, 1962 television address:



Many actors have played Jack Kennedy in movies and television, on stage. None have captured the self-effacing, realistic, inner grace of the man. The decency. The isolation. The melancholy and fatalism. Here Bruce Greenwood does. Thirteen Days (2000) itself is merely in the deep end of the theatrically-released Movie of the Week genre and is nearly drowned by Kevin Costner's endless, insufferable presence. (He plays White House Chief of Staff Kenny O'Donnell who had little to do with the Crisis drama.) Greenwood makes it special. A remarkably intelligent actor who gives us the hardest of all things to capture on film: thought. And he embodies Kennedy as not only the center (despite Costner's suffocations); but also as target.



No one has appreciated John F. Kennedy more beautifully and profoundly than Catholic theologian James W. Douglass, in his masterpiece JFK and the Unspeakable and in continuing lectures. Here is Douglass at his most moving, Seattle, Washington, September 2008.



And a documentary presented by the JFK Library showing what would have been, without President Kennedy: "Clouds Over Cuba"

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dear Heart


No American composer ever captured the heart of an era the way Henry Mancini captured the heart of the early-1960s. His songs contain within them the loss and heartbreak we would feel, when thinking about that time, the height of the American Century. . .

Monday, October 16, 2017

When Women Were Women and Men Loved It


A woman's place is in the home in this rather insane documentary from '62. (Guess the director never saw All That Heaven Allows, Bigger Than Life or The Wrong Man.) Still, what's better: this?; or Rachel Maddow, Lena Dumbham, Hillary Clinton, Mary Barra, and Kathryn Bigelow? Your choice.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brothers

From May of '93, Dr. Michael Parenti interviewed by Dave Emory.

Fresher than a daisy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1971 and Now


As antidote to wee Kenny Burns's corporate totalitarian bullshit made for the Petroleum Broadcast System (and for the Coke brothers), here's a 1971 Pacifica broadcast featuring Peter Dale Scott and other historians, recorded right after Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers.

Even then, they knew.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Komachan

Inside 21st-century U.S. culture, kids are generally seen as knowing and obnoxious schemers, somehow always smarter than their parents, sexualized, made to seem like junior-mint Yuppies about as narcissistic as the grown-ups. One of the remaining beautiful parts of Japan is the respect shown toward children as children. Most books, television, games, toys, anime, and movies are emotionally sophisticated, and the creators expect Japanese children to understand. . .

Komaneko is one of the sweetest and saddest movies/anime I know. And so quiet. Another difference: turn on anything American for kids and there won't be more than a nano-second of silence.

Created by Tsuneo Goda, from 2006.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gravity and Grace

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sacred Heart


The Saint was perhaps the deepest and most beautiful thinker of her century.

Simone Weil left us with these five self-judgments:
1. Not to be dishonored.

2. Not to die without having existed.

3. To traverse this somber age in manly (or womanly) fashion.

4. To perish with a clear vision of the world we shall be leaving behind.

5. To work toward a clear comprehension of the object of our efforts, so that, if we cannot accomplish it, we may at least have willed it, and not just have desired it blindly.
Her essay on concentration ("Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God"), concentration being the ultimate act of love, puts the reader in a state of Grace.

Monday, October 2, 2017

House N*gg*r


Glen Ford:
Morgan Freeman is used to playing God, and in lesser roles, president of the United States. These days, however, Freeman has sold his image and aura to the worst warmongers on the planet. Morgan Freeman has signed on as a front man and propagandist for an all-out military confrontation with Russia, the only country that has the power to turn the United States into a burned out cinder. In a video that Freeman’s right-wing friends are circulating on social media, the actor declares that a new world war has already begun.

“Russia is waging war on the US,” says the text of a video, produced by the so-called Committee to Investigate Russia. Morgan Freeman then intones, “We have been attacked. We are at war.” He spins an infantile 1950s-type demonization of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for supposedly using “cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world.” At this point, we discover that the man who plays God on film is, in real life, just an old time, shuffling Uncle Tom, the kind of shameless bootlicker that we hoped had gone extinct. Morgan Freeman says of the United States, “for 241 years our democracy has been a shining example to the world.” Freeman’s slave ancestors must be cursing his name from the grave.

A sudden, early grave awaits us all, if Morgan Freeman’s script-writers have their way. The ideology of the Committee to Investigate Russia comes straight from CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, which has vetted every U.S. war since World War Two, and the Pentagon. Former CIA director James Clapper, who lied to the entire world when he told Congress that the government was not spying on the telephones and personal computers of everyone on the planet, sits on the board. He got away with perjury, and now he’s writing Morgan Freeman’s lying script. Max Boot is a rightwing historian with the Council on Foreign Relations who wants to “beef up” the U.S. military. Evelyn Farkas is also on the Council, and is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. Norman Ornstein is a scholar at the Republican-dominated American Enterprise Institute. And Charles Sykes is a rightwing commentator.

This is the political company that Morgan Freeman keeps: militarists, spies, and rightwing hate-mongers – the real dangers to world peace. When Freeman says that the U.S. is already “at war,” he is effectively demanding an attack on Russia. Under Nuremberg rules, Morgan and others like him are guilty of crimes against peace – which are capital crimes. Freeman is trying to whip up a war frenzy that can only end in nuclear annihilation. That makes Freeman a danger to the human race. A war whore -- not God-like at all.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Uptown

Happy October

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Matt


A pitcher straight from the heart. Grant Brisbee with a tribute.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Find the Way

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In the Company of Men


One was the Prince of Darkness; the other, a Prince. Yet both were giants who defined their worlds, and they recall us to a time when the country believed in the connection between action and consequence, not only in the political realm, but in the private as well.

57 years ago tonight: Kennedy/Nixon Debates, Round One.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Please Make It Stop

I guess it isn't enough for Morgan Freeman that he's always been the Uncle Tom of movie actors. And it obviously isn't enough for Rob Reiner to be the worst movie director of the last 30 years, not counting Ron Howard.

Now this.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trane

Happy 91st Birthday.

Friday, September 22, 2017

You Don't Know What Love Is

John Coltrane does. Happy Autumn in New York.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beyond Grace


In many ways, his speech at the United Nations, September 20, 1963, is a more radical moment than was the astonishment of American University, three months before. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty had been signed and was days away from Senate confirmation. The Civil Rights Bill had been entered into the constipated corrupt halls of Congress; and the March on Washington had just been celebrated. Medgar Evers was dead. And children had died: four little girls in Birmingham, five days before; and the President's own prematurely born son, Patrick, in early August.


Here Kennedy recognizes the State of Grace the world had entered into in 1963, thanks to himself, to Nikita Khrushchev, to Pope John XXIII and other leaders. And how fragile that State was. He calls not for an end to the arms race, but for total worldwide disarmament. He calls for a newly established worldwide food distribution program, one particularly embracing poor children. Calls for the creation of organizations across borders providing health care, farm subsidies and equipment, science education and laboratories, for all in need. New laws and enforcement power preserving the beauties and health of our natural environment. And a new United Nations charter strengthening human and civil rights treaties and courts, proposing new laws and courts should conflicts arise not covered by existing measures.

Most stunning -- and self-destructive -- of all is his call for an end to the space race, for a unified effort to explore the stars, the planets, the moon -- and a ban on all outer space weapons and military-oriented satellites. This, combined with Kennedy's refusal to Americanize the war in Southeast Asia, would have cost the corporate/military/intelligence vampires trillions of dollars.

They wouldn't lose a dime, thanks to the greatest American mass murderer of the 20th Century -- and one of Kennedy's assassins -- Lyndon Johnson.

It is a celebration of hope, community, cooperation, and all we hold dear on our short journey from birth to death. "My fellow inhabitants of this planet. . . ."

My God, how far we've fallen. . .

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Francis

Three Deaths


Jim DiEugenio on three murders that forever destroyed Third World nationalism.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hicks


The Mount Rushmore of modern American Comedy: Pryor, Steve Allen, Newhart.

Bill Hicks.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering 9/11


Forty-four years ago today, the US national security state murdered Chile's President, overthrew his elected Workers/Socialist government, and installed a fascist corporate totalitarian state which now seems to've been the future model for the USA itself. Under the business dictatorship headed by mass murderer Augusto Pinochet -- hero to the Chicago School of Economics -- tens of thousands were murdered or forced to flee their land, hundreds of thousands were imprisoned and tortured.

In memory.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fraud


Not.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Greatest Movie Solo Dance Ever?

Yes, it is done in blackface. And yes we don't do things like that anymore. Yet Fred Astaire's tribute to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is so deep from the heart; and so beyond race.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Which Kind Are You?

The Marrying Kind:  what does that mean? As one who once married young and for love, I really don't know. I suspect, generally and not counting shotgun weddings, it refers to a personality more earnest than others, perhaps naive and silly, and certainly terribly optimistic. (Whoever said a "second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience" got it backwards. It's the first marriage that's pure hope.)

Director George Cukor decided to make a movie in search of the answer. New York City, which in 1952 included all the boroughs, not just Zagat Island. Young working-class newlyweds caught up in the deliriums of post-World War II America. Judy Holliday and a fine new actor, ex-prizefighter Aldo Ray. In-laws, broken dreams, money troubles; and the death of a child. The Marrying Kind find themselves pulled apart by The Practical Kind -- all those ready to provide every unmagical reason in the world to not stay together.

The movie says, "No -- love is not blind. In fact, love is the only state in which we truly see someone. To lose love is to lose vision, to lose understanding." For then the loved one becomes just like everybody else.

It is a very dear film. And how lovely to see a New York City that does not take itself too seriously, a place where people have real jobs (and real accents!).

Monday, September 4, 2017

Scab Nation


Professor Richard Wolff on the Land of Disunion and a possible world beyond.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Crazy 8


To the blog!

And to Rob! (The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered 56 years ago this month.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Be Afraid


David Cronenberg's The Fly premiered over thirty years ago this month and seems to have been largely forgotten. (While other US movies of the period continue to receive attentions and accolades -- Hannah and Her Sisters, Platoon, Back to the Future, After Hours, friggin' Blue Velvet.) Upon release it was generally (Kael, for once, got it right) dismissed as just another hi-tech remake and gross-out movie. It is instead one of the great works of art of the 1980s, a movie about separation and loneliness, fear of love and sex, fear of communion and hope. It is about Reaganism and what the 1980s did to our emotional culture. Consciously or not (we know Cronenberg's father died during production of a terrible cancer), the director seems to have sensed that we were taking a turn, that our hearts we're growing quieter, something of the best in human life was now going away forever; that what was public and communal would now be forced back into the darkness of privacy; from now on we would have to look more inward for satisfaction and understanding, through imposed hatred of all things public and the increased dominance of technology. Very hard to watch, it is a movie of overwhelming pain and sorrow and loss, with only three major speaking-parts in its almost 100 minutes.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a genius scientist who works and lives in a warehouse on the dark side of the moon, his only companions being his lab animals. At a science convention Brundle meets a magazine reporter (Geena Davis, Goldman’s soon-to-be-wife of three years) who takes up the goofy and earnest man’s invitation to see something which will “change the world as we know it.” Indeed. We sense that Seth has tried this approach before, without much success. Since Ronnie (the reporter) hands over one of her silk stockings while flashing a gorgeous leg right after arriving at the warehouse, she must like him. Her first stance toward him, however, is a rather knowing condescension – until he demonstrates what will change their worlds: he “teleports” the silk stocking from one “telepod” to another (initially she calls them “designer phone booths”). She rushes back to her magazine’s editor-in-chief, a typical prick mediocrity perfectly played by John Getz. Seth is outraged and he convinces her (and the editor) to wait. He offers to bring her with him, step-by-step, until he and his travel/space revolution is ready to launch; and in hopes she will along the way fall in love with him. She does. Almost from the moment she does, he (literally) begins to fall apart. And the rich red aroma of sorrow – embraced by Howard Shore’s Grunenwald-like score and captured by DP Mark Irwin’s Tintoretto darkness – descends like a mourning veil.

Brundle is a man who wants nothing more than to love, to be part of something other than his own mind. Something it is not in his nature, or destiny, for him to have. He follows his self-destruction and lonely descent into hell with purity and courage. He does not fight it. It is all he really knows. After successfully teleporting a lovely baboon (his first attempt was not successful), Ronnie suddenly leaves him – to finally rid herself of the prick boss/ex-boyfriend. Within moments of her leaving him, Seth begins to fade, feel insecure, jealous and possessive. He drinks, gets quickly drunk, and in a stupor decides to teleport himself before the pods are ready. Successfully he believes.

Ronnie returns to him and they fall. At first, she makes him feel like a sexual superman. When we next see the couple in public, Seth is in full Yuppie regalia, turned into a would-be Don Johnson. He's now rocketing and she cannot keep up, she is too sexually square for this once and future shut-in. So he dumps her, after degrading her. “I don’t need you anymore! Never come back here!” He decides to prowl the streets and kick some Gentrification City ass. (Literally Toronto but a stand-in for Portland or Seattle or the Loop or some other pseudo-hipster shithole). After breaking an arm or two in half, he feels like the toughest stud in town.

Apart from Ronnie, the descent is fast, as he quickly becomes as physically repulsive as he must have feared he was his whole life. After a month, he asks her to return. He has been turned – like the failed attempt with the first baboon – inside/out, his fear and self-loathing now exposed for her to see. She has no choice but to turn away.

SETH
I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man,
and loved it. But now the dream is over,
and the insect is awake.

She shakes her head. But soon, Ronnie will plead with Getz to arrange an immediate abortion, words Seth will hear:

RONNIE
You should have seen him!
There could be anything in here,
in me, in my body. . .
I don’t want it in my body!

Penultimately, she is to kill his baby. Finally, he commits suicide by begging his loved one to murder him.

He also instructs her about Insect Politics:

SETH
Insects don't have politics.
They’re very brutal.
No compassion.
No compromise.
We can’t trust the insect.

A perfect description of our post-Reagan world, and never so anthropodic as in ObamaLand.

Only three characters speak for the movie’s first 50 minutes. (Five minor roles later include Cronenberg as Ronnie’s gynecologist, and a very nice and sexy turn by Joy Boushel as Seth’s bar pickup.) Getz is serviceable (and heroic at the end). Davis is beautiful and moving throughout. But the greatness of Jeff Goldblum is hard to describe or compare. Not for a moment does he hide beneath the make-up or technology. Unlike his character, he is a man to the end.

BrundleFly is what we have become, what we have been forced to become. On our way to becoming what Seth is at the very end: part-human, part-heartless insect (or should that be iNsect?), part-thing.

Be very afraid. . .

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Go

Three ways.

Sinatra.



Lee Morgan.



Brother Bill Evans.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

1962!


A sultry Friday night at Sportsman's Park, June 8th, 1962. Juan Marichal vs. Bob Gibson. Harry Carey and Jack Buck. The best club in San Francisco Giants history (they were 40-17 at the start of the game) against a young up-and-coming Cardinals team that would win three pennants later in the decade. Funny and sweet radio spots. Lots of smoking and drinking and lots more good cheer.

They've been saying around here that Camelot was a myth. The heck it was.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jerry


Old viper John Simon once joked that Jerry Lewis could cure muscular dystrophy overnight if during his next Labor Day telethon Lewis announced he would disappear forever if everyone watching sent in 25 cents. One of the worst of the two billion degradations in our current pop culture is that far more people think of Lewis in terms of "his kids" and that annual telethon than think of him as one of the great movie directors of his age. Which he was.

Lewis's movies are deep and complex and necessary, movies
which are especially beautiful to look at, with amazing and ever-changing pace. And it is here where we begin to understand just how deeply and devoutly Jerry Lewis believed in the magic and in the transformative possibilities of movies themselves. His Total Filmmaker is one of the best (and funniest) filmmaking books around.

The Ladies Man (1961) with Jerry's commentary.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Listen

Tonight's guest, that star of stage, screen, and radio. . . . Lee Oswald?



The second part (36:00), recorded several days later, is a marvelous job of mousetrapping and just a taste of what Lee would get a few months hence, on his way toward oblivion.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Roving


Oz and best friend Thorny argue about a series of books called The Rover Boys (Ozzie claims there was no Rover Boys Go to Treasure Island while Thorny insists there was). Having absolutely nothing in the world to do, Ozzie rushes to his nearest library and there runs into son David's English teacher. When she asks Oz what he's looking for -- ashamed to mention the Rover Boys -- he grabs the nearest book at hand, a 25-pound version of The Peloponnesian Wars, Volume One. Astonished at this scholarly taste, the teacher invites Ozzie to lecture on Ancient Greece to her PTA book club -- an offer David's dad cannot refuse. This all happens quickly and soon we're into the near-entirety of the episode: Ozzie struggling through four massive volumes of Sir Henry Parkinson's unread masterpiece. Strangely, Thorny's also going through the books, even though he wasn't even invited to attend the lecture. Eventually, Harriet saves the day by calling the English teacher and telling her Ozzie is sick.

A mind-boggling 23 minutes (wish I could find the uncut version) composed of less than 50 shots -- average shot length over 30 seconds. (The average Curb Your Enthusiasm, for modern example and a show not editorially-retarded, runs 28 minutes containing over 500 shots.)

Ozzie Nelson is the Carl Dreyer of television!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Orchids

Besides the greatness of Rick Nelson, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is best remembered for its astonishing longevity (14 seasons, 435 episodes!) and for the equally astonishing moribund irrelevance of its later years (1960 and beyond). At its best, however, it was great. Under the total creative control of Ozzie Nelson (who it's said made Otto Preminger seem like a pussycat on set), it was the original "show about nothing." Ozzie never had a job, seemed to have no plans for the day, was considered a boob by everyone, and was surrounded by friends, relatives, and neighbors who also had pointless, jobless lives. (What a refreshing change from the CV-obsessed garbage of modern television!) Yet everyone was happy, warm, relaxed, and gentle -- without a hint of smarm or calculation.

One of the wackiest early episodes is called "The Orchid and the Violet," from April of '53. Oz is mistaken for a bum (as he should be) by a florist and his wife, hysterically played by the great Alan Mowbray and by Orson Welles's own Jeanette Nolan, reprising her role here as Lady Macbeth.

Crazy, man!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Enthusiasms

One man is looking for a little girl's doll; the other for a cone of tutti frutti ice cream.


Cops, a druggist, his wife and best friend, the store manager, telephone operators, his sons: all do what they can to help Ozzie Nelson find that tutti frutti ice cream. Meanwhile, Oz plays cards and cooks hamburgers at four-in-the-morning, files a false police report about being lost, raids a 24-hour supermarket, wakes up his sleeping wife after having a tutti frutti nightmare, wakes up a sleeping druggist, throws rocks at his neighbor's window in order to wake him up in case he has the ice cream, is woken up by the same neighbor (played by the great Parley Baer) who now also has the tutti frutti bug, wakes up the boys and tries to fob off some cherry ice cream mixed with fruit cocktail as tutti frutti on them -- with no one in sight having a care in the world as morning approaches. . .



Larry David's L.A. is a city of gargoyles: racists, liars, assholes, cheats: amoral psychopathic egoists -- a place where one is naturally murdered by tire-iron for honking a car horn at a driver who has backed into you. In the first few seasons, David's character is a rather befuddled and passive Joe who, like Ozzie, rarely works and who, unlike Oz, gets into deeper and deeper trouble the more he tries to do the right thing. Everyone he meets outside his closest circle (and sometimes within) treats him with dishonesty, loathing, suspicion, condescension, arrogance: so-called friends, cousins, his receptionist, his dentist, co-workers, other drivers -- everyone. It's amazing the character hasn't gone postal (yet). But midway through CYE's run, Larry David changed character: thereafter, David becomes the instigator of most unpleasantnesses; and seems to get off on them. When this wrongheaded shift originally occured, I figured it was prelude to the ending of the Davids' marriage -- 'cause who wants Larry to be just another schmuck victim of a betraying wife? But the marital split didn't occur until the end of Year 6, so no. A strange choice, and while probably a leap toward what the "real" Larry David is like, the show lost its Everyman quality and has too often been "this week's politically incorrect kick in the teeth to": Orthodox Jews, kamikaze pilots, gay Barneys workers, the deaf, devout Christians, Lesbians, blacks blacks blacks, pregnant women, little girls, and Koreans who eat dog. Still -- as Ozzie represents the giddy "what me worry?" exhilaration of Eisenhower's suburban white Eden -- Curb Your Enthusiasm embodies the prick heart of 21st Century America, as well and as consistently as anything in the pop culture.



And oh yeah. . .