catching up on the news…

Posted by on Apr 29, 2007 | 0 comments

  • David Hallberstam died this past week. NPR has a nice retrospective up, and Glenn Greenwald was kind enough to post a bunch of links to Hallberstam’s essays, with commentary. Required reading.

    On the adversarial relationship between journalists and political officials

    – patriotism and courage

    on 9/11

    on journalists and Vietnam

  • Rush is getting heat for what we’ve always known him to be –a racist.

    Kevin Drum gives us the low down, and Digby follows up with more essential reading which includes this important point:

    Rush is not some misunderstood schlub who just made a few slightly off-color jokes and doesn’t understand why it bothers some people.He’s not even a nasty old racist/misogynist creep like Imus who just thought he could demean anybody he felt like and make big money doing it. Rush Limbaugh a professional cog in the GOP machine who has been helping to set the political agenda in this country for more than a decade. He knows exactly what he’s doing when he plays on racist stereotypes and it isn’t just for the laughs.

    In a nutshell: racism creates divisions in the Liberal ranks and motivates the Conservative base. Keep people arguing, they can’t unite against you. If you caught Imus’ producers appearance on Hannity and Colmes, his stuttering excuse ridden “we’re the victim” stance is typical, and it’s no coincidence it’s being played 24/7 over at Fox News. Wingnuts are all about making excuses for their own bad behavior.

  • Over at New Black Man, Mark Anthony Neal’s post “Niggerology” 101: A Conversation with Jabari Asim is also a must read; a nice solid dose of reality regarding an emotional and important topic, one that needs to be discussed and dealt with properly.
  • Read More

    Howlin’ Wolf Wednesday

    Posted by on Mar 29, 2007 | 0 comments

    It’s hump day. That means Howlin’ Wolf… “Shake it for Me” and “I”ll Be Back Some Day”…
    Update: Yeah, YouTube seems to be pretty useless these days. They pull videos all the time. So, updated the link. (sigh)

    Read More

    My Foolish Heart

    Posted by on Mar 21, 2007 | 0 comments

    Bill Evans, defining beauty as only he could do.

    Read More

    A Liberal, a Rapist and Satan walk into a bar….

    Posted by on Feb 16, 2007 | 0 comments

    Joel Surnow, the creator of “24” as well as the new and extraordinarily bad “1/2 Hour News Hour” (deep satire that) says the following in an interview in TV Guide:

    …I think the one thing we target more than anything else is hysteria. The hysteria over global warming. The hysteria over Barack Obama. College kids’ hysteria over Che Guevera T-shirts. This is funny. This is irrational behavior that has lodged itself in our culture, and no one stops to go, “Wait a minute this is kind of absurd.” (emahasis added)

    Sure they do. It’s called The Daily Show. It’s called The Colbert Report. It’s called Jesus General. It’s called Sadly No! It’s called The Poor Man.

    Of course, the absurdities the above satirists skewer on a regular basis are obvious and really absurd and above all obviously so to the audience. That’s what makes it funny. The Onion plays the same comedy territory.

    Surnow is violating a central tenet of comedy and of drama: he has an agenda. And, an audience can smell an agenda a mile away. Surnow is producing propaganda comedy. Problem is, it’s bad comedy. Because it’s not ironic. It’s not satire. The satirists I list above are funny and have something in common: they point out the ironic and make fun of it. That’s satire. That’s what makes people laugh. Surnow’s show is unfunny because it isn’t pointing out absurd ironic moments that are universal. It’s making fun of deeply partisan ideas. It’s simply bashing and trying to make fun. It’s the very definition of sophomoric humor.

    Just because you perceive that there is “hysteria” over things you don’t like, doesn’t mean that such a reaction doesn’t have deep roots in real and honest concern and truth as many people see it. What Surnow is really saying is that when people spend so much time focusing upon things he and other Conservatives don’t want them to spend time upon, then it’s hysteria.

    But, of course, obsessing on things that Conservatives consider important isn’t hysteria at all, is it? Take the GWOT for example. Calling for a US Senator to be hung isn’t hysteria? Calling an entire portion of a society “unhinged” and using distinctly Nazi like tactics such as focusing upon “Liberals” who fall on the wrong side of the law and using them to generalize that they represent all Liberals, isn’t hysteria?

    Shorter Surnow: Conservative hysteria good. Liberal hysteria bad.

    Which is the essential mantra of a propagandist, not a comedy creator.

    Surnow should stick to torture propaganda. He’s actually okay at it, even if he gets it wrong.

    Read More

    Wingnut Icon Rush Limbaugh goes for a twofer

    Posted by on Feb 16, 2007 | 0 comments

    El Rushbo must be feeling the heat from his abysmal performance in the awful new “satire” show offered by Fox. Even wingnuts hate it.

    Here’s a clip:

    The canned laughter alone is horrible. This review pretty much sums it up.

    So, what does Limbaugh do for an encore? He says that Barack Obama should just say “No, I’m white.”

    Read about it at Think Progress.

    Read More

    thoughts for the day

    Posted by on Feb 6, 2007 | 0 comments

  • Stuart Elliot in the New York Times questions whether the cartoon like violence in a number of ads aired during this years Super Bowl are a reflection of the violence of the Iraq War. Well, of course, we are a violent species, and the current war is only one example of wars that have raged since the beginning of recorded history. And, cartoon like violence has been around just as long. Most especially in moving pictures the past century or so.
  • Molly Ivins provokes the censorship squads one last time.
  • Bud Bad TV to watch with your Budweiser Bad beer. If ever there was a sign that the end is nigh, this is it. Grab your ankles.
  • Marty Scorcese finally takes home a DGA doorstop. Will an Oscar be next? We shall see. It’s a good year for film… enjoying this years awards season more than most. Some quality cinema out there…
  • Media loves media.
  • Community film making of a sort. Thought it interesting. Read More
  • from the vaults…. emmylou and spyboy

    Posted by on Jan 31, 2007 | 0 comments

    Emmylou Harris had a bit of a cold. Her throat was a bit sore, so we got her a hot tea with lemon and honey. And, like a trooper she sang her heart out. You can hear it in her voice a little, that shredded raspy thing happening. But, her great talent and pipes are hard to keep down. She overcame. And, the band, Spyboy, just stellar.

    This is one of those performances that stick with you. Everything clicked between band and crew. Although the video on You Tube is pretty cruddy, the moment it captures is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on TV and I’m privileged to have worked on it.

    It will always be one of the great shames of the corporate television history that is one day written that Sessions at West 54th wasn’t allowed to blossom and find it’s audience. When we were making it, no one had heard of it. And, no one really watched it. Now, ten years on, I have an old faded t-shirt from the show and it never fails that when I wear it, someone comes up to me and says: “I love that show! When is it coming back?” And, of course, when I see friends who worked on it, we always reminisce and it’s generally a fact how good it was and that it was just great fun to work on.

    Emmylou Harris and Spyboy sing Neil Young’s “The Wrecking Ball”…

    Read More

    star trek gets a facelift

    Posted by on Jan 28, 2007 | 0 comments

    The newly remastered versions of the original Star Trek television series include some pretty amazing alterations of certain scenes, such as the one above. You can scroll through a gallery to view some of them.

    It’s an interesting situation in many ways. Having grown up with the Kirk Enterprise, part of me waxes nostalgic for the cheesy effects. They were cheesy back then. But, of course, over the years, as effects have become more sophisticated and production design more refined, some of the scenes in the old series can appear a bit….dated. And, I’m sure to younger audiences, pretty lame.

    That said, I can’t help but notice that the new affects lack something of the old shows pre moon landing innocence. But, one also has to ask, how much of that innocence is truly that or simply a lack of money? Judging from some of the stories I’ve read over the years, I’d have to say the latter played a large role, but it’s a little of both no doubt. The new effects feel more like the ones in the newer shows, which I suppose helps to create a certain amount of continuity. Not an entirely bad thing for sure. I’ll have to watch a few of them to see how it comes off. (Which I suppose is the point, isn’t it?)

    Read More

    Cirque de Saddam

    Posted by on Jan 3, 2007 | 0 comments

    (Updated below)

    Lisa: It’s a media circus.
    Homer: Woohoo, the circus!
    Lisa: A media circus.
    Homer: Woohoo! I don’t know the difference!

    The recent execution of Saddam Hussein, and the emergence of cell phone video documentation of that execution, is a great example of how the mediaspace is rapidly changing and evolving. A fact that alarms those who wish to control information, and excites those who wish to share it.

    One of the great disconnects that occurs in societies that exhibit fascist tendencies is intentionally false and misleading news stories when evidence to the contrary is available. The accessibility of posting and viewing documentary video of events such as the Hussein execution via online outlets like You Tube, Rapidshare and Bit Torrent shines a light upon deceptive media practices, providing not only real evidence that contradicts misleading propaganda, but also solid proof of just how behind the times and complacent traditional media outlets have become and how willing they are to produce and report propaganda.

    It’s become rather apparent: blindly accepting and regurgitating the information they are given by government approved sources simply will not suffice, as online video can contradict obvious propaganda from outlets such as World Net Daily, while simultaneously leaving traditional TV outlets impotent and struggling to decide what to do (show it or don’t show it?) whilst millions worldwide are already watching the video anyway.

    Granted, World News Daily is hardly a reliable news outlet, but the fact remains that it is perceived as such by many people, especially Christian readers on the right. As credible as say, Fox News. It’s almost amusing to read the obviously incorrect article which states:

    He was maneuvered onto the center of the platform.

    The silence in the room was total. (emphasis added)

    Suddenly there was the sound of a lever being pushed down hard. The trapdoor swung open. Saddam’s body plunged through.

    The first video available, from a cell phone, directly contradicts this information. It is quite apparent that Hussein went to his death chattering non-stop. No less than half a dozen news outlets reported that Hussein’s last words translated were the Shahada, or the Muslim prayer of allegiance to Allah, interrupted by the pull of the lever, his last word was “Mohammad”.

    Still, the level of outright deception practiced by WND in regard to the reality of Hussein’s execution is rather astonishing. And, the reason is pretty evident (beyond the obvious wish to not spread the fact that Hussein prayed as he was hung) – they obviously did not expect video to surface that would contradict their treatment of the event. Initial indications were that the Iraqi government had fully intended to completely control any and all images emanating from the Hussein execution. Comments from the official videographer confirm this. And, propaganda houses such as World Nut Daily were simply spreading the good news, as it were, apparently not expecting cell phone video to contradict the official story. But, the very existence of the cell phone video does raise some interesting questions.

    As Michael Roston at TPM Cafe points out:

    Clearly, the location of Saddam Hussein’s execution was one of the most secure settings for an execution ever constructed. So, why are we finding on the move about this planet a bunch of viral, unrestricted and uncensored videos of what is probably the most controversial execution ever carried out? […] Here we are seeing 21st century psychological operations. It’s hard to know who is directing this Internet traffic, but it can be concluded there were elements within America’s government and/or military, working in concert with Iraq’s current scarecrow power-holders, who wanted as many people as possible in the world to see Saddam hang. And from that rope hanged not just that bearded old man, but whatever was left of our culture that hasn’t been degraded by the 7 years of ‘leadership” we’ve been dragging around with us.

    My own view on this is a bit less conspiratorial and more pragmatic.

    Consider that the Iraqi government videotaped the execution then proceeded to squirrel that footage away, likely never to see the light of day. Why do this only to have shoddy cell phone footage of the event come out? Any interest on this matter by the US would surely include a great deal of actual control of the image and sound. (As was done on Iraqi TV.) The cell phone video seems to be the antithesis of controlled. Perhaps this was the intent. A sort of ruse and misdirection. But, the lack of control of the cell phone footage and the apparent divisive atmosphere leads me to consider another possibility.

    The very apparent severe division that the cell phone video footage documents between the Iraqi’s attending the execution is the cause of the video’s very existence. That is, that no one in charge wanted to be the one to tell an attendant guest using a cell phone to tape video “don’t do that.”

    Occham’s razor would dictate that most likely no one simply thought to not allow cell phones at all and no one was willing to tell the cell phone videographer to stop, considering the incredible politically and culturally charged moment. Or maybe no one even noticed at all, considering the magnitude of the event. Where would your eyes be looking, at the guy next to you with the cell phone or at Hussein? The call for a probe into the matter sheds little light, except to acknowledge how the execution became a media circus.

    In the final analysis, the entire video event has a very organic feel to it. It shows what it shows, and reality is difficult to spin if you are honest. Traditional propaganda outlets such as WND want to convert everything to their world view, damn the facts. People believe what they want to believe, and will justify and condone great leaps in humanity and morality to do so. To me, it makes no sense to allow any video at all to be released, since it makes the narrative more difficult to control. “Hussein died a coward.” is a hard point to push when you see the video, short of seeing him blubber like a baby, which isn’t the case. The existence of the video only complicates the propaganda field for all involved.

    Alfred Hitchcock built his entire film career on scaring people with moments they do not actually see. But, in the end, even video proof can be refuted if that is your intent.

    As Groucho Marx said: “Who are you going to believe? Me or your own lying eyes?”

    Josh Marshall goes good gumshoe investigating who the mystery cell phone videographer may have been… interesting stuff.

    Read More

    all things jimmy scott

    Posted by on Dec 22, 2006 | 0 comments

    For obvious reasons, Jimmy Scott is particularly big in our house during the holidays. Winter as well. He just warms the heart with such joy and powerful emotions and beauty. I first saw him perform when I worked on Sessions at West 54th in the late 90’s. Maria was lucky enough to catch him last year at Ronnie Scott’s in London. There’s a great documentary about him entitled If You Only Knew. Watch it, or better, catch a show. You won’t regret it.

    Read More

    shake the tree and nothing falls..

    Posted by on Dec 17, 2006 | 0 comments

  • Rosie O’Donnell apologizes for her racist remarks and Tony Snow apologizes for his fascist remarks. Rosie doesn’t seem to get that whether she intended to “mock” or not doesn’t make the remark any less racist. Have to give Snow credit. It’s my hope that the sheer fascist hypocrisy of his remark broke him down. The press isn’t there to swallow whole everything the White House offers. The function of a free press is to question and to be partisan if that partisan position gets answers. Having worked for the entirely partisan Fox News has blinded Snow to this. His apology was proper and well worded. Although, why he feels the need to apologize to a dead body is beyond me.

    And, when did we become a nation of ungracious “an apology isn’t enough” whiners?

  • Eric Boehlert hands Michelle Malkin her head. It’s all about blame. The warbloggers need to blame someone for the failure in Iraq. A failure that many of us knew was a failure from the very beginning, of course.
  • Confederate Yankee graduates from boot licker to balls up Town Idiot. I always knew you could do it CY!
  • Christianists at Wright-Patterson AFB fuck non-Christians’ careers, use prayer as a decision-making aid. Yup. You read that right. Read it. Read More
  • kick a hole in the sky today

    Posted by on Dec 12, 2006 | 0 comments

  • RU Sirius asks some in the know: “Is it Fascism Yet?(c/o Douglas Rushkoff)
  • Losing the propaganda war, but not the war. Of course, hearts and minds are the war, otherwise you’re an occupying force, right?
  • Some perspectives: Truth in the Age of Citizen Journalism and opposing media conglomeration. Seems to me that the People’s Media Company is a corporate attempt at appealing to the community aspect of the internet. Can you create that artificially? I wonder.
  • Rosie gets racist. It’s silly and childish. It’s meant to be funny in that way. But, it’s offensive too, and since it is denigrating, it’s racist.
  • Iraq Study Group… what the media isn’t telling you.
  • United 93 has been named Best Picture of 2006 by the New York Critics Circle, which is sort of a mystery to me. I thought it a pretty mediocre film. Obvious and manipulative in unoriginal ways. Unremarkable at best. Not that critics have a clue about such things… And, the producers have been pushing for awards for awhile. Such is the way of the movie biz… Read More
  • so long oj, hello popcorn

    Posted by on Nov 21, 2006 | 1 comment

  • Times Talks has some interesting conversations with Jim Jarmusch, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Redford, amongst others. Just click on the mini menu to the right of the movie at the top of the page.
  • The 14th Annual African Diaspora Film Festivalis November 24 to December 10, 2006. Check it out online.
  • MOMA is hosting the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You screenings.
  • Variety is reporting that News Corp. and Fox TV have bailed on the OJ book and TV special. It never should have gotten this far… Even Michelle Malkin agrees. What does that tell you? Read More
  • It serves me right to suffer

    Posted by on Nov 12, 2006 | 4 comments

    John Lee Hooker. Just watch.

    Read More

    webuzz – questions of the day

    Posted by on Oct 24, 2006 | 0 comments

  • Does TV cause autism?
  • Is Barack Obama laying the groundwork on a run for the White House in 2008? Avedon has some thoughts on that and a number of links worth reading.
  • Where did the $500 million go?
  • Gavin at Sadly No! asks: “Who’s stupider, Dan Riehl or Confederate Yankee?” That’s a hard one. So many variables. It’s like asking “who would win in a fight between Maximus in Gladiator and Han Solo in Star Wars?” The answer is less important than asking the question, you know?
  • The Strategy in Iraq Has Never Been “Stay the Course”… Right? (Long pause.) Ain’t reality a bitch?
  • Bill O’Reilly to President Bush: “[Y]ou work hard, right?”
  • Dave at Seeing the Forest cites the following quote:

    The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

    “He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country,” said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Then, rightly asks “While very few in leadership positions in this country have kids in Iraq, outside of the Capital there are families, parents, friends and co-workers of the people serving there. I wonder what they think when they hear this stuff? Are they filled with confidence that the leadership is … well, sane?” Read it all.

  • …can you believe we’ve lost Jonah Goldberg on Iraq? Fucking Surrender Monkey... from the Wingnut Roundup over at Agitprop.
  • It’s obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that the war in Iraq is going badly, yet spewing his Talkin’ Pointz™ in an interview with AP Bush said:

    “We are constantly adjusting our tactics so that we achieve the objective, and right now it’s tough… it’s tough,”

    which is as close to an admission that the war is going badly as we’re gonna get from Capt. Codpiece …then at a GOP fundraisor Bush stated:

    “Which political party has a strategy for victory in this war on terror?'”

    Nuff said.

    Read More