Monday, December 31, 2018

Up the Rebels

Happy New Year!

Down the Bitches

The great Kevin Spacey gives both fingers to the #MeToo life-haters.

As does David Walsh.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mister Leonard


Auteur, indeed.

Sheldon Leonard was producer/sometime director/always chief creative boss of The Danny Thomas Show (1957-64), The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68), I Spy (1965-68), Gomer Pyle (1964-69) (one of the funniest shows of the 60s, Vietnam be damned, thanks to the professionalism of Jim Nabors and the comic greatness of Frank Sutton), plus the one season (1969-70) of the Emmy-sweeping My World and Welcome To It. No creative force dominated American TV culture as widely, as humanly, and with as much variety as did Leonard's product during the transition from Eisenhower to Nixon.

The jewel in the crown -- the best show of its time (and perhaps ever) -- was of course The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66). While it was Carl Reiner who drove the DVD car, Sheldon Leonard provided the road map, and what a map it was . . . kind, gracious, graceful, elegant, brilliantly funny, modest, super smart, humane -- with (like the time of the show itself) always the good speaking. The variety of Leonard's genius can best be felt by comparing DVD with Danny Thomas. The two shows overlap across four seasons, an overlap set within the entertainment world of early-60s New York City. Yet Thomas drifts with the Sweet Smell of Success: nightclubs, bars, agents, penthouses, taxicabs, tuxedos, and at times an almost hysterical aggressiveness. Van Dyke is quiet and gentle: it exists in back offices, suburban living rooms and bedrooms and kitchens, in a neighbor's dental chair. Throw in a small Southern town contained inside a bell jar, the black-and-white world of international intrigue, a military barracks, and the fantasy-filled study of a Thurberesque writer. . . amazing. Even more amazing: all of it good-hearted.

One of the funniest Van Dyke episodes (and the only one with a nightclub setting), stars the man himself: "Big Max Calvada" from November 20, 1963, on the cusp of the Unspeakable.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas: SCTV

My favorite, a miracle, from December 1982.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Eve

Merry Christmas to all!!

And what better way to celebrate the holiday than watching the best movie of the 1950s!


Joy to the World!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Separate

Emerson:
They are lonely; the spirit of their writing and conversation is lonely; they repel influences; they shun general society; they incline to shut themselves in their chamber in the house, to live in the country rather than in the town, and to find their tasks and amusements in solitude. Meantime, this retirement does not proceed from any whim on the part of these separators; but if any one will take pains to talk with them, he will find that this part is chosen both from temperament and from principle; with some unwillingness, too, and as a choice of the less of two evils; for these persons are not by nature melancholy, sour, and unsocial, — they are not stockish or brute, — but joyous; susceptible, affectionate; they have even more than others a great wish to be loved. Like the young Mozart, they are rather ready to cry ten times a day, "But are you sure you love me?" . . .

And yet, it seems as if this loneliness, and not this love, would prevail in their circumstances, because of the extravagant demand they make on human nature. . . Talk with a seaman of the hazards to life in his profession, and he will ask you, "Where are the old sailors? do you not see that all are young men?" And we, on this sea of human thought, in like manner inquire, Where are the old idealists? where are they who represented to the last generation that extravagant hope, which a few happy aspirants suggest to ours? In looking at the class of counsel, and power, and wealth, and at the matronage of the land, amidst all the prudence and all the triviality, one asks, Where are they who represented virtue, the invisible and heavenly world, to these? Are they dead, — taken in early ripeness to the gods, — as ancient wisdom foretold their fate? Or did the high idea die out of them, and leave their unperfumed body as its tomb and tablet, announcing to all that the celestial inhabitant, who once gave them beauty, had departed?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

America the Beautiful


Before the purge. Richard Wolff explains.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

It's a Wonderful Life?

George Bailey's nightmare.



Gambling, alcohol, pool, pawnbrokers, dancing, and floozies!

A nightmare worthy of the iron heart of Rudolph Giuliani. . .

Frank Capra was a phony. While obviously a technical master within a factory system humming on all cylinders -- and the director of many interesting and speedy movies before he became classical Hollywood's Social Artist of the Day (American Madness, The Miracle Woman, Forbidden, Platinum Blonde, and the very special Bitter Tea of General Yen) -- Capra-the-Award Winner (and that happened fast) played it safe, took the road most traveled by while adding nothing new to it, and became increasingly sexless, reactionary, anti-romantic, witless, and slow, with every Oscar. (Also, his "Know Your Enemy" entry on Japan must be seen to be believed, worth sharing company with The Eternal Jew and Jew Süss.)

A different sort of nightmare. Produced by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, here's a view of 1946 a lot closer to the daily concerns of the daily American, for all its technical messiness.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Starlight

Saturday, December 8, 2018

In Memory of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

49 years ago this month, unarmed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered in their beds by the Chicago Police and the FBI, on orders of the Nixon Administration. (Funny how Woodward and Bernstein missed that one. Maybe because the operation's Bureau ringleader was Mark "Deep Throat" Felt.) Straight-out death squad killings, and a fitting conclusion to Assassination Decade.

Amy Goodman remembers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Rest in Pieces

Satan, make room for one more!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Crucifixion

In a century almost devoid of real heroes, here's one -- the greatest and bravest journalist of our time.


And now the victim of media whores, MeToo man-haters, Identity Politics finks, Zionist Neo-Cons, Clintonoids, and the Trump "Justice" Department.

Again, Chris Hedges.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Worst Person of the 20th Century

No, not Hitler. This piece of shit:


Milton "Grand Vampire of Neo-Liberalism" Friedman

Chris Hedges and David Harvey with more on this malignant midget.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Changed

The best documentary so far on the Dallas background, mostly made from outtakes of Assassination Weekend: reporters primping themselves before going on-air; color home movies of the entire motorcade, not just Dealey Plaza; local security warnings announced before Kennedy's arrival; corridors of the panicked Parkland Hospital; the sinister suffocations of the police department and Sheriff's office. Rare and fascinating stuff from pre-Technology Land.

The movie takes no POV on what happened that day or why. One thing stands clear: Lee Harvey Oswald was a tough motherfucker. Through the two days under arrest and before his public execution and silencing, Oswald never backed down, never stopped complaining about his treatment or lack of legal representation, never lost his cool, never made a single political pronouncement, and never admitted guilt. This isn't a man who's just committed political murder. This is a man with terminal confusion.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Darkness at Noon

"Kennedy is moving toward something that is not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don't have: depth, humanity, and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole: a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will fully break through into that some day by miracle. But such people are before long marked out for assassination."
-- Thomas Merton, November 18, 1962
John Kennedy's decision to turn toward peace regardless of the consequences to himself is reason for gratitude. We should think of him around Thanksgiving Day, which always falls around the anniversary of his death. And sometimes, as it does this year, on the anniversary itself of the gift of his life. If he had not turned and given us that gift, the world would now be a nuclear wasteland. The fact that he did turn -- and was murdered by an unspeakable power which continues to rule us more strongly than ever -- raises profound questions about our own need to face the same darkness, and to accept the consequences. As he did.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Girl We Left Behind


Of course, there were more than two Rosemary Clooneys. This lovely and emotionally complicated woman had many rooms to her mansion, creatively and otherwise. Yet there is a dividing line in the forward movement of her life that most people can agree upon -- her 1968 breakdown, coming after years of a Catholic holding-together of a marriage to the brutal and ever-cheating Jose Ferrer (a marriage and remarriage, resulting in five children) while falling ever deeper in love with arranger Nelson Riddle -- the final breaking point her presence at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, June 5th, 1968, witnessing the National Security State elimination of her close personal friend Robert F. Kennedy.

For years after she did not perform. In '77 she came back - dramatically different look, dramatically different sound. Most jazz fans seem to prefer the post-breakdown, slatternly, husky, wearied Rose. Not a chance.

The young Rose was a blue ribbon for blonde ladies in black. Her eyes were blue with a pannier of diamonds, wistful, looking out with tenderness, offering up, timidly, a little love. And they would glow. It is not common for blue eyes to glow in the dark of modestly-lit rooms of bars or clubs or recording studios, but Rose's light came from within. Her sound back then was full of red cheeks and Christmas, the color of it on most songs as startling as a view of wild red berries in a field of snow. And something more, a warning: with each song she seems to be burning a piece of the distant past, ash deep within her purity thickening from a membrane to a shroud. If love is a state of grace and must be protected by sacramental walls, then Rose did all she could to do the protecting.

Friday, November 16, 2018

100


And on a scale of 1 to 100, this episode pretty much hits the top: "One Hundred Terrible Hours" from 5/5/65.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Winding Lee

Monday, November 12, 2018

Emily

I dwell in Possibility
A fairer House than Prose
More numerous of Windows
Superior of Doors

Of Chambers as the Cedars
Impregnable of Eye
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky

Of Visitors, the fairest
For Occupation, this
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise

-- E.D., 1862

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Midterms

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Heroes of Their Time


And ours.

Jim DiEugenio on the time when it was still possible for the powerful to protect the powerless. (And those who lie about that time.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

DO NOT


The great C.J. Hopkins says it:
It looks like we have got ourselves a horse race! That’s right, folks, once again, it’s time to start playing with those forecast maps on Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight, and obsessively following the fluctuating poll numbers of congressional candidates you have never heard of competing in districts you couldn’t locate if someone held a gun to your head. You need to start doing this immediately, if not sooner, as the stakes in these midterms could not be higher. Nothing less than the continued existence of “American democracy” hangs in the balance, so the ruling classes need every last one of us to get out there and vote for somebody!
The fact that it only marginally matters who that somebody that you vote for is should not dissuade you from voting for somebody. Voting for somebody is your civic duty, and is no less important than rooting for a sports team, or maintaining a personal favorite color, or celebrity, or brand of hemorrhoid creme. Remember, if you don’t vote for somebody, somebody else is going to win, and we can’t afford to let that happen!
Now, your choices this year are particularly exciting, despite the fact that they are exactly the same as in every other US election since approximately the 1970s. Yes, that’s right, once again, it’s the Transgender Panethnic Communists of Color versus the Old White Cisnormal Capitalist Nazis, and what a spectacle it promises to be! The Old White Cisnormal Capitalist Nazis (hereinafter the “OWCCN”) currently control … well, pretty much everything (i.e., the House, the Senate, and executive branch), and so the Transgender Panethnic Communists of Color (hereinafter the “TPCoC”) are hungry, and are looking for some serious payback after getting their butts kicked in 2016. Rumor has it, the TPCoC are preparing to unleash a “Blue Tsunami” on vulnerable OWCCN incumbents, take control of the House of Representatives, and then not impeach the ass clown President they’ve been telling everyone for the last two years is both a traitorous Russian intelligence asset and the resurrection of Adolf Hitler.
And, if that isn’t exciting enough for you already, they’ve got all kinds of other life-and-death issues to emotionally pressure you into picking a team to fanatically root for on social media, and then getting out and voting for somebody. How blatantly to humiliate illegal immigrants, how affluent you have to be to obtain an abortion, how much interest banks can charge when you pay for your chemo with an Amazon card, and which pronouns law enforcement officers are required to use to refer to people whose homes they barge into and unintentionally murder, are just a few of the many “hot-button” questions requiring your democratic input.
Other questions, like whether to invade or just strategically bomb Iran or Syria, or some other non-ball-playing Middle East country, or pour billions more in military aid into Israel, or sell billions in weapons to Saudi Arabia, or foment a coup in Venezuela, or maintain almost eight hundred military outposts in over seventy foreign countries all around the world, are questions that do not require your input. The global capitalist ruling classes, the corporations they own and operate, their friends in the government and the intelligence agencies, and the corporate media will take care of all that. Same goes for those Wall Street banks, and the next looming global financial crisis, and those mass extinctions, and this wacky weather. The grown-ups with the fancy suits and haircuts are handling all that complicated stuff. You just worry about all those other issues, and get out there and vote for somebody!
Seriously, though, for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of U.S. politics, our election cycle, and these midterm elections, and thus do not have the slightest idea what I’m even referring to, here’s what’s going on in a nutshell …
On November 6, 2018, Americans will be returning to the polls to exercise their inalienable right to choose between two corporate-financed, ruling class-vetted political stooges competing for the chance to pretend to represent them in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and in various gubernatorial, municipal, and somewhat lesser distinguished chambers. A selection of non-ruling-class-vetted candidates will also appear on a handful of ballots. Americans will be free to vote for such candidates, as long as they realize they are just wasting their time, and possibly damaging the “serious” candidates, which the corporate media will remind them they are doing at every available opportunity.
See, unlike in backward European countries, where some semblance of a parliament still exists, and there are actual campaign finance restrictions and limits on televised campaign advertising, in the United States, where everyone is free, voting for non-ruling-class-vetted candidates, in a midterm or any other election, is about as effective as voting for a sandwich … or for, you know, some narcissistic billionaire ass clown who swears he is going to “drain the swamp,” and build “a beautiful wall,” or whatever. The system is designed to guarantee that no matter which ruling class stooge you vote for, and even if you vote for a character like Trump just to stick it to the establishment for once, it makes no difference … or, OK, very little difference.
The reason for this is not a big mystery. When a seat in the Senate goes for ten million dollars and a seat in the House for over a million, and there are no real restrictions on campaign financing, and the corporate-owned media decide in advance which candidates will be given airtime, and considered “serious” by the mainstream pundits who work for the handful of corporations that own the vast majority of newspapers, television and radio stations, and internet platforms that control the flow of information to the American public … well, it would kind of be a little odd, wouldn’t it, if authentic anti-ruling-class candidates were allowed to enter and compete in that system?
Most Americans understand this, which is why nearly half of them do not vote. It’s humiliating enough to be forced to live, and attempt to support a family, and so on, in a savage, neoliberal marketplace with virtually no social cohesion whatsoever, and in which the only real operative value is money, without also having to debase themselves by participating in the simulation of democracy that the capitalist ruling classes need to maintain in order to pretend that they are not just social parasites with a lot of goons and guns.
Which brings me to the point of this essay. See, normally, I try like hell to avoid telling people what to do in my columns, but, after my last one, a number of readers wrote in asking for advice, so I’m going to make an exception, just this once.
Here’s my advice. You’re not going to like it.
Do not vote. For anyone. At all. Tell all your friends not to vote for anyone. Join the hundreds of millions of Americans who refuse to participate in the simulation of democracy. Take time off from work to vote, and then do not vote. Go see a movie, or have lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a while, or take a nice, long walk in the woods or something. Whatever you do, do not vote. Seriously. Please stop voting for these people. They’re not your friends. They mean you ill. They will shake your hand, kiss your baby, then sell you to the first pharmaceutical lobbyist, or military industrial lobbyist, or Israeli or Saudi Arabian lobbyist, that waltzes into their office with a check, or that threatens to turn their voters against them.
You probably think I’m kidding. I’m not. Do not vote in these midterm elections. Or in any other American elections. Not while the system remains as it is. If you really want to vote, move to Europe, where at least there are still parliamentary structures, and a decent variety of political parties, and some restrictions on campaign financing and advertising. All you’re doing when you vote in America is reifying a simulation of democracy, and so perpetuating the system as it is.
Oh, and while you’re at it, if you happen to work for any of those pharmaceutical companies, or any of those weapons manufacturers, or their suppliers, or for an investment bank, or a hedge fund, or private equity firm, or any other company, corporation, firm, consultancy, or department of government that is central to keeping the American political and economic system going as it is, quit your job and do something else. Seriously, go into the office today (or get up from your desk right now) and quit, and go find something else to do with the gift of your sentient life on this planet. I realize that might be a scary proposition, but that’s what it’s going to take to change things, a lot of people deciding they have had it and are not going to play the game anymore.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Land of Pigs


Chris Hedges:
At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.
It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.
It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone’s perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed.
The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn.
The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not.
The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous.
Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It’s a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” most people are glad to be rid of them.
C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote:
"They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons."
Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.
The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump’s and Kushner’s eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi’s murder is ominous. Trump’s incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince’s thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience.
The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste.
There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground.
In “The Postmodern Condition” the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard painted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which “the temporary contract” supplants “permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs.” This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich.
The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.”
The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Boo!

Astonishing.



And a three-hour interview with writer-director Nikolas Schreck.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Tale of Three Cities


Los Angeles, California, United States of America. On the nights of August 9th and 10th, 1969, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Tex Watson, and Leslie Van Houten brutally murder seven upscale Caucasians in the Benedict Canyon and Los Feliz sections of the city. Three months later, the five killers -- known as The Family -- are arrested and put on trial for their lives. The following year all are convicted and sentenced to death, death sentences commuted to life in prison without parole, due to the California Supreme Court's People v. Anderson decision invalidating all capital sentences imposed in the state prior to 1972. Forty-nine years later, Manson remained incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison for the remainder of his life; Tex Watson at Mule Creek State Prison; Patricia Krewinkel and Leslie Van Houten at the California Institute for Women at Frontera. At Frontera in 2009, Susan Atkins passed away of brain cancer.

My Lai and My Khe, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. On the day and night of March 16, 1968, in the peasant villages of My Lai and My Khe, over 500 men (mostly elderly), women, and children are killed and mutilated; most of the women raped before death. The twenty-six murderers are part of an organization known as the United States Army -- more specifically Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. Only one of the killers serves any time, a Lieutenant by the name of Calley, whose punishment is to be held under house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia, pending appeal. Three years into his little vacation, Calley is pardoned by President Richard Milhous Nixon.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

October Jazz

Courtesy of Ken Laster.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Cross


Tag Gallagher on Carl Dreyer.



The complete masterpiece.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

"I Emphatically Deny These Charges"


Mr. Rob Clark (The Lone Gunman) with the finest and deepest understanding of Lee Harvey Oswald I know of, in print or audio. Here Rob blows open a door which is usually kept shut by the community, of whatever take, for too many people look at 11/22/63 with a cold eye, despite it being one of the most monstrous acts of the 20th Century. A young man, the most famous and powerful man in the world, seated next to his wife, both of them the parents of two small children, has his head blown off. FROM BEHIND. (So they say.) That is not the act of a nut, of a political ideologue, of a closet homosexual (Norman Mailer tended toward that nitwit interpretation), or of a lovelorn husband. It is the act of a monster. The act of someone capable of child murder, of mass murder, of Auschwitz. Of course, that sort of evil was not too hard to find within the US National Security State, a sort of death-worship which was the daily bread for the likes of Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, David Phillips, David Morales, Tracy Barnes, Des FitzGerald, and many others. As it is in our own day with the monsters who blow up women and children and wedding parties from within their air-conditioning drone-strike studios somewhere in Virginia or Nebraska or the Oval Office. But where is there any evidence of this sort of psychopathology in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald? Oswald, as Clark details, was never alone. He was a man who loved his family. Loved his wife, however difficult a time she seemed to give him. And who dearly loved his daughters. Baby daughters, the youngest one only weeks old when JFK was killed. So Oswald that day was not only killing Kennedy, he was killing himself, and the lives of his children as well, destroying lives that had only just begun. There is NO EVIDENCE he was that sort of man. None. Mr. Clark reminds us of that in a brilliant, funny, passionate, and unique way.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Oswald.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Dream Killers


Where have Drive-Ins, Revival Houses, Movie Palaces, and Independent Cinema gone?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Evil


Chris Floyd:
Quinlan: Come on, read my future for me.
Tana: You haven’t got any.
Quinlan: Hmm? What do you mean?
Tana: Your future’s all used up.
A grotesquely bloated, corrupt cop stumbling through a self-created mire of lies and death, sick of the world and his own ugly, irredeemable self. Glints and flecks of a better person, far in the past, appear, reflected not in his own time-assaulted visage but in a despised Other, a strong brown man with a beautiful wife, the kind of glamorous woman he used to have. A lowly Other, as he sees it, an inferior creature putting on airs … yet embodying the gritty nobility and thirst for justice that he, the bloated one, the one whose soul is already rotting in its putrescent flesh, once held in his own heart as his ideal. This comes out every time he speaks the Other’s name, in a slurred drawl that mixes loathing and yearning in equal measure: “Vargas.”
Orson Welles’ portrayal of Capt. Hank Quinlan in his 1958 film “Touch of Evil” is perhaps the most courageous self-immolation in cinema history — even Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now” makes sure there is a kind of ruined beauty and grandeur in his portrayal of Kurtz. But Welles —himself once a glamorous golden boy of American culture, at one time married to one of the most alluring women in the world, Rita Hayworth — cuts himself no such slack. There is no ruined grandeur in the jowly, sweating, loathsome wretch he pushes at the audience — often in large, intense close-ups. This is what we can come to, he says, using himself as a canvas of human degeneracy. Perhaps, he hints, this what we are — this is all we are — at the core.
To cover up his own long-term corruption, Quinlan tries to frame both the upright Mexican detective, Miguel Vargas, played by Charlton Heston (not a brown man at all, of course; but then again, the Other is always a fiction, generated by a fearful mind) — as well as Vargas’s new wife, played by Janet Leigh. (This “mixed marriage” is another rumbling undercurrent in the film.) In the end, Quinlan is shot by his disillusioned partner, and dies in a pool of industrial wastewater. 
Just before this, Quinlan visits a brothel-keeper, with whom he once had a relationship. He’s now so rotten and bloated that she can barely recognize him. She’s played by yet another person once considered one of the world’s most alluring women: Marlene Dietrich. He thinks she’s reading cards for fortune-telling —she says she’s just doing accounts — and he asks her to tell his future. That’s where the dialogue above comes in.
This exchange comes to my mind more and more as I read the staggering farrago of the daily news. In this light — or rather, in this darkness visible — Quinlan increasingly appears not just as an emblem of universal, institutional and individual corruption, but as a prophecy of America’s present reality… and its destiny.
As many have noted, Donald Trump’s presidency does not represent some kind of aberration in the nation’s politics, or in its character; it is much more of an apotheosis. Or perhaps a long-simmering impostume finally swollen to the bursting point, dousing us all with fountains of rancid pus, built up over many generations. Trump has held a mirror up to America’s nature — and shown us, in its reflection, a gigantic close-up of Quinlan. 
The chronicle of a nation’s death is oft foretold, of course, without the prophecy necessarily proving true. But it’s hard to escape the feeling that we are now in uncharted waters, with the ship of state fatally holed. Just as Trump is bringing the country’s racist, grifting, shallow, violent, psychosexually disturbed quintessence to the fore, we are also witnessing the collapse of almost every institutional force that once stood as a bulwark — or at least a light brake — against our worst instincts.
The political opposition is utterly enfeebled, clueless, corrupt and compromised. The media is, if anything, even worse: vapid, ignorant, juvenile, and largely in the hands of corporate behemoths and oligarchs; its main act of “resistance” has been the resurrection of a rebooted McCarthyism that paints America as the innocent victim of a Kremlin ogre, while letting Trump skate on the manifold and manifest ordinary crimes this cheap hood and his ilk have perpetrated over decades. Academia? Also on its knees to corporations and oligarchs. The justice system? Forget it. It’s now a killing machine running wild in the streets, combined with a shakedown operation looting the people with fines, fees, bail and confiscation. Hollywood? You mean the industry making movies with the military and the CIA, when it’s not bludgeoning us with vigilante superheroes and mind-numbing CGI spectacles, all of them featuring dehumanized, demonized Others who deserve destruction? (They also slashed up “Touch of Evil,” then relegated it to B-movie drive-in fare.)
No one can see what’s yet to come. But the image we see in the American mirror today – a corpulent, desolate wreck, sinking into poison water, grunting out his last breaths of humanity – makes one fear the nation’s future is indeed all used up.
Touch of Evil (1958):

Monday, October 8, 2018

Japanese Girls at the Harbor


Silent and wonderful and very strange. Director Hiroshi Shimizu -- one of the forgotten masters of classical Japanese cinema -- invented his own film language and here it is used to create a series of free-floating emotional tableaus, either in support of, or not, a story. (I can't tell.) It seems to be about two Yokohama high school girls who go their very separate ways, one called Sunako, the other Dora. (Dora in 1933 Japan?) Yes ~ for the movie cuts with an anti-Western edge, as it opens with foreboding scenes of foreign ships filled with non-Japanese passengers: we see foreign cars, a Christian church, gangsters right out of Scarface (1932), and the names Dora, Henry, and the troubled Yoko Sheridan. (Henry and Dora later get married and live in a thoroughly Western house.) The main character (and the movie's troublemaker) is Sunako (played by the rather limited Michiko Oikawa, who looks forlornly at the ground quite a bit). Sunako yearns for Western-style bourgeois respectability, while mistreating (and eventually tossing out) her devoted Bohemian boyfriend; and while yearning for the cheating ex-gangster husband Henry, who breaks his own devoted wife's heart. (Dora is played by Yukiko Inouye, who for some reason reminds me much of Renèe Faure in Les Anges du Peche.) As we move along, many questions arise. Why is there no emotional weight given to the artist boyfriend? How did Sunako escape after shooting Yoko Sheridan? How did Yoko come to such dire straights? What crime did Masumi commit? What exactly is Yoko guilty of, besides getting shot by Sunako?

We don't know. Shimizu never tells us. But his language is so his own that you won't care and all you'll remember are the sequences: the disappearance dissolves; the shooting in the church; the slow track to the left revealing who Sunako's new neighbor is; the unraveling ball of string; the montage of "where we used to walk together"; Masumi's arrest; Sunako's bar search for Henry; Sunako's recognition of her neighbor; the ending's visual exhiliration.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

October

If one would ask how the monumental can be tender, October in New York is the answer. The city then recalls us to the brutal and to the awesome. Her wood and asphalt and brick skin becomes luminous in any pale light ~ it also reflects the shadow of the rock: New York in such shadow on a sunny day, the glass of her eyes has the blue of the sea. Days and nights slow down, people seem much readier to recognize others, before the Transfiguration of Christmas. New York October: when the magnificent blue sky glows like sapphire, after the sun sets. Streams and ponds and lakes of water flash blue. Great lines of silver-grey poplars rise and make avenues ~ or airy grey quadrangles ~ across the Park, their top boughs spangled with gold and green leaf. Sometimes gold and red, a patterning. A bigness ~ and nothing to repress the romantic spirit.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Tale of Two Boo-Boos

Yogi and Boo-Boo Bear, fifty years ago.



From more recent times -- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

You Don't Know What Love Is

John Coltrane does. Happy Autumn in New York.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Atone This



Jeffrey St. Clair with the deep background.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Greatest Sequence in Movie History?

The husband has tried to kill her. Worse, he has broken her heart.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Your 21st Century US "Left"

"To be ultra is to go beyond. It is to attack the sceptre in the name of the throne, and the mitre in the name of the altar; it is to maltreat the thing you support; it is to kick in the traces; it is to cavil at the stake for under-cooking heretics; it is to reproach the idol with a lack of idolatry; it is to insult by excess of respect; it is to find in the pope too little papistry, in the king too little royalty, and too much light in the night; it is to be dissatisfied with the albatross, with snow, with the swan, and the lily in the name of whiteness; it is to be the partisan of things to the point of becoming their enemy; it is to be so very pro, that you are con."             
-- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Monday, September 10, 2018

By the Fire

Three of the most beautifully intimate scenes of classical Hollywood, all scored by Bernard Herrmann.

Joseph Cotten, Ray Collins, and Anne Baxter.



Ryan and Lupino.



Novak and Stewart.

Friday, September 7, 2018

On Fire

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

First Day of High School???

Oh, God. . . .

Monday, September 3, 2018

Brothers

On this Labor Day, a tribute to three of the greatest Americans of the 20th-century.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Burn in Hell

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan


YIPPEE!!

Caitlin Johnstone, Max Blumenthal, Dmitri Orlov, and Patrick Martin with much more to say about this mass-murdering cocksucker.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Light

Simone Weil died 75 years ago today. She was the most beautiful and the truest saint of her time, dying from self-starvation, from horror and heartbreak; horror at the miasma of World War II surrounding her in Europe, heartbreak because the Free French wouldn't let her parachute into France from London to fight the Nazis and those siding with them. This lovely, slender, terribly clumsy, always sick young woman (she died at 34) wanting to parachute into France! while refusing to eat because of all those dying from starvation across the world.

She always refused to think in terms of "rights," thinking only of "obligations." And to think of Weil from where we all now stand is to feel nothing but shame, guilt, and darkness.

The great John Berger reads from Simone's poem "Chance."

Monday, August 20, 2018

Gravity and Grace

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Not Anyone


One of the glorious moments of 50s cinema, with the wonderful Hadda Brooks at piano.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Programmed


Not at this radio station. Not then, not ever, as WKRP in Cincinnati -- cancelled by CBS after continued pressure from the Reaganoids and the Falwells -- went out with its bravest and most heartfelt season. This lovely and very funny episode from Christmas 1981 celebrates the days when radio disc jockeys were actually allowed to program their own music. Imagine that. . .

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Greatest


His number was retired yesterday by the Giants in the presence of:

Cepeda
Gaylord Perry
Stretch!
Willie Mays!
Juan Marichal!!

And for all you PED-Obsessives:

1999(start of the so-called Steroids Era) to 2003, Age 34 to 38:
2,104 ABs, 247 HRs, HR/AB: 8.53

2004(when Bonds was tested for PEDs every week) to 2007, Age 39 to 42:
1,122 ABs, 104 HRs, HR/AB: 10.79

Fuck the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Shy

A beautiful essay by Hugh Iglarsh.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Once Upon a Time. . .


Happy 92nd Birthday to Mr. Bennett!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jelly Roll

My daughter rolls with laughter whenever she watches this episode, which unfortunately has been around 20 times this week.

One of the best in the series: "Wally's Haircomb" from May of '59. (And dig that crazy music!)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Listen

Each day the miracle known as Saya teaches me more about life, love, joy, sadness, right and wrong than all the books I've read, all the teachers I've had, and all the "friends" I've mistakenly listened to. And she's just a normal kid. (Okay, a lot cuter than normal.) Saya-chan is also the most demanding teacher I've ever had, requiring complete attention. One must look at her when she speaks, and listen carefully to all she says, even if what she says she's already said twenty times.

Surprisingly, one of the best pop culture embodiments of her gift and wisdom is Leave It To Beaver. Surprisingly because my memories of the show (what little there were) pictured the show in its "ABC incarnation." Because of Saya I picked up Shout! Factory's magnificent LITB Complete Series box. (For the most comprehensive review I've ever seen of any box set, go here.) Having now watched most of the first couple seasons, and remembering some of what followed those years, it's clear there were two LITBs. Aside from one obvious answer -- namely, Jerry Mathers growing up into a rather awkward adolescent -- what were the reasons for the dramatic shift in tone, look, and quality? We can mark when the shift occurs: when the Cleavers move into the second house. In "First House" incarnation, everything is different. Ward is a handsome, charming, even dashing figure, reminiscent of a younger Pat Riley: a relaxed, happy man with a good life. His boys adore him. June ~ what a dish! With a style clearly based on the middle-1950s Grace Kelly, she's witty, graceful, and very much in love -- and in lust -- with her husband. And that's the first major part that goes out the window when the Cleavers move into their new airplane hanger of a house -- the sexy, fun, adoring relationship between the parents, at its best worthy of comparison to some of the screwball comedy couples of the 1930s. Why did they get rid of this? Why did they change Ward from a stylish, man-about-town into a cranky, always worried, humorless stiff?

And what they did to June was worse. Everything she wore in the first house was beautiful, especially her hairstyle. After the move, she becomes this dull, washed-out mannequin, with the worse haircuts possible from the time. (And the early-60s was a Hall-of-Fame time for bad hairstyles.) And the boys! In the first couple years, the brothers are in love with life, always thinking about what was the right thing to do (and often failing); caring more about others then themselves. The family moves -- the boys become different. Now often nasty and selfish, and generally looking at their parents as old fogies who don't understand anything about fun and life. (Considering what June and Ward became, I guess the boys were right). Wally becomes the obnoxious Big Man on Campus. Beaver becomes a BMOC-wannabe. And their second-house friends! Eddie, Lumpy, Larry, Whitey, Richard, Gilbert. Whatever happened to the cool Chester or the blind Chuey? Or the sweet-and-cute Benji with the very strange voice? Couldn't the boys have one second-house friend who wasn't a conniving butthead? Who were the producers of the show trying to appeal to once the show became a hit, because once they decided to base LITB on a "kids are more fun and smarter than their parents" theme, the show really goes downhill. And the look of the show as well. In the first two years, LITB glistens with an almost Fassbinderian white glow. About the best-looking TV black-and-white I can think of from the time. Then they move -- and everything suddenly seems as if it had been shot in someone's garage. The same is true of the music. There's that lovely, sad melody they use in the first two years -- after they move, it's gone.

So what happened? Answer: Leave It To Beaver changed networks. It went from uptown CBS to downtown ABC -- and the shark swallowed it whole.

My favorite episode from when the show was good: "Beaver Runs Away," June 1958.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Simpich


Bill Simpich is one of the bravest and brightest lights in the current constellation of Kennedy assassination researchers. His (free!) book -- State Secret -- is an investigative and interpretive masterpiece, one of the major works in the canon which not only names names but proves the naming as well. While I depart from Simpich's view of a very contained intelligence cadre taking out JFK (a conspiracy theory that smacks of pique as the primary murder motive rather than anything systemic or money-based), his detailing of the Mexico City heart-and-soul of the plot goes beyond anything we've had before: a thorough indictment of William Harvey, Richard Bissell, David Morales, Anne Goodpasture, Tracy Barnes, David Phillips, George Joannides and others deep enough to bring before any of the Hanging Judges in a true court of Heaven. If we had one.

Here, Bill Simpich indicts another member of the plot, more hands-on and closer to home: Dallas police captain W.R. Westbrook.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ghosts

I've never been much of a fan of Rod Serling or his original Twilight Zone. (Its contemporary genre sister One Step Beyond has always seemed more genuinely strange and mysterious and honest). There's a quality of over-literary slumming to most TZ episodes (the same feel I get from Herb Leonard's Naked City and Route 66 [George Maharis!] -- Method Museums both). Yet, from the position of hate and degradation we're all covered in by our current Commodity Culture, to deny the show's occasional greatness is absurd.

Episode number five was called "Walking Distance" -- premiering October 30, 1959 and starring the sadly forgotten Gig Young (who seems to have once lived in the Amberson mansion). Strange to say for a network TV show, but the greatness of "Walking Distance" is in its music -- perhaps the most moving ever written for a single episode of any series, by Bernard Herrmann, coming off of Vertigo and North by Northwest, and preparing for Psycho. An excess of love seems to come from the sound, a kind of abnegation and loneliness which speaks of what is tender and what is lost forever. Herrmann's music contains the ghost of tenderness itself. (And how much better the episode would be without Serling's nail-on-the-head narration.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Go Forth

Saturday, June 30, 2018

From the Heart

Robert Francis Kennedy on CBS's Face the Nation, November 26, 1967, (complete).

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Something Has Happened in the Pantry!" -- III

More answers from Shane O'Sullivan.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Love Crazy


At first glance, 1950's Gun Crazy is a mere re-telling of the 1930s Bonnie and Clyde myth, following up on Nick Ray's They Live by Night from the year before and Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once (1937). At heart though, Gun Crazy is one of the most deliriously romantic films ever made.

A young man and young woman are obsessed with guns, and both can shoot out the eye of an eagle at 100 yards. When they meet, what else can they do but fall in love? Since they sense everything around them in straight society means to rip them apart and put them in their place, they do all they can across the landscape of post-World War II America to make their love burn ever brighter.

Peggy Cummins is the soul and guts of the film, always stoking the flames, director Joseph Lewis making prominent the delicate silvery cut of her face (while eventually betraying her): that delicate girl face below the blonde hair. Love must murder us unless we possess it altogether, is the look she gives us. And yet she has a fear of the man she is in love with, for she senses that his words and gestures, perhaps those she could possess. But him, his private substance — she would never have it, and so her eyes often shudder. At the end, she is proved correct.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Every day is. . .

"I've believed all my life that children have more to teach adults than the other way around. The person who has never dealt with children is a spiritual cripple. It is children who not only open our hearts but our minds as well. It is only through them, only in seeing the world through their eyes, that we know what beauty and innocence are. How quickly we destroy their vision of the world! How quickly we transform them into the image of us shortsighted, miserable, faithless adults!" -- Henry Miller

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Loved and Needed

His greatest speech, the morning after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Something Has Happened in the Pantry!"


What did happen in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel, midnight, June 5th, 1968?

Tim Tate has some answers.

"Something Has Happened in the Pantry!" -- II

So does Shane O'Sullivan.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Breaking the Heart of the American Dream


Part Three of Bobby Kennedy for President, "You Only Get One Time Around"

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

RFK RIP

"Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live."

-- Robert Francis Kennedy

Part Two of Bobby Kennedy for President, "I'd Like to Serve"

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Passion Flower


50 years after his execution -- decades of domestic and foreign calamities, dominated by aggressive war and horrific economic choices, leading to the collapse of the political system -- the nation would be unrecognizable to the man who fought every day for the weak against the strong. Robert Francis Kennedy did not have to face the heartbreak of the country he loved so much and worked so hard to humanize being turned into a snake-pit of psychopathic ambition, grimness, self-delusion, historical ignorance, and endless lies. For what is left on a popular or establishment level of the idea that society and government must be judged by the way the most vulnerable among us are taken care of?

Nothing. There is nothing left of that. Which is why the sense of doom and sorrow one takes from Bobby Kennedy for President 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 RFK (and JFK) 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 the Ambassador Hotel kitchen pantry (and Dealey Plaza), they've achieved it.

Part One of Dawn Porter's Bobby Kennedy for President, "A New Generation"

Thursday, May 31, 2018

"There's a very good reason why Jack Kennedy was shot. . .


". . . and the Clintons haven't been."

A stunning and moving interview with the great Hunter S. Thompson. R.I.P.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

High Hopes


On his 101st birthday, John F. Kennedy speaks to us of privatization, secret societies, secret cabals, and in a very funny way. . .

Happy Birthday

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Decoration Day

George Cukor's The Marrying Kind -- one of the dearest American movies of the 1950s -- loves public space. The married couple, played by Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray, are almost never alone. They met in Central Park, adore their kids, have company over non-stop, and basically let friends and relatives run their lives: the husband and wife are just fine with that. In New York City 1952, others are not mere externals to be sniffed at. Beside its beautiful ending, its most memorable scene (set on Decoration Day) is one of the most peaceful -- and then terrifying -- in 50s cinema, Cukor signaling the upcoming horror by the panicked running of others.

And it breaks the marriage in two.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Somewhere


Both singers are dubbed and both are singularly limited as movie actors. (Yet who else could go from playing Tony in West Side Story (1961) to playing -- 30 years later -- Benjamin Horne[!] in Twin Peaks?) And yes Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer hated each other on set, since Wood wanted then-husband -- and future-murderer -- Richard Wagner as Tony. Plus the movie is not light and funny, nor a showcase for star performers in their best routines. Still. . .

Where did all this go? What happened to it? This quiet and warmth. This full-bodied belief in transcendence, heartbreak, longing. This sense of doom coming not from covens of corporate vampires creating a world frozen in dread, cynicism, and corruption; rather, a tragic forboding arising from the nature of things, as if one is never in so much danger as when happy and/or alive -- that is when the devils seem to have their day, and hawks steal something living from the gambol on the field.

West Side Story can now be seen, almost 60 years on, as a bleeding-heart opera of the Kennedy Years, filled with a faith in endless possibility and joy, undercut by distant drums -- a movie with a vanished New York City of movement, color, good humor, fellowship, and a loathing of pretension and power at the center of its tender heart.

Let it bleed.

Monday, May 21, 2018

John Lewis Knew. . .

You really want to know what Bob Kennedy was?

He was fucking beautiful.
-- AP reporter Joe Mohbat