Thursday, April 22, 2010
Was Shakespeare gay? Was he really Christopher Marlowe? Who was he? Does it really matter? I don't think so, the works stand on their own feet and should be judged on their own merits and the rest is actually beside the point. Greatness. What of greatness? What is it? How does one define it? The Bard didn't even seem to know entirely from the evidence of his plays, but he had this to say in Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene V to be precise:
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Perhaps, but what of those who have had greatness thrust into them?
No, there will never a Republican superhero since none of them even rise to the level of decent human being, but were there a GOP superhero, since they kiss banker and corporate ass, his name would be: Coprophagy Jones. Things are a lot harder in the afterworld. In this life, you're on your own.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Hahahaha, no, they didn't have to "cram" for it, an image I'd rather not have in my head now, and it's of G.G. Allin ('nuff said).
But what is a redneck piss-test? Easy: your'n.
That'll learn 'ya (or not).
Thursday, April 15, 2010
What do you expect from a Cheech & Chong concert? A lot of pot jokes, right? Some of the old routines from the albums, how the boomer and gen-x crowd (the latter being my generation), some Q&A, some songs, etc., right? That's pretty much what the show was, with some interesting surprises and insights from two of the most recognizable counterculture's personalities.
Even though the war on drugs is hardly over with the election of Barack Obama, it's safe to come out, and the duo beckon everyone to do likewise. Fear and loathing were not the main themes of the night. For most of us, Cheech & Chong were untouchable icons who were over and done with after the 1986 album "Get Out of My Room," a pretty lackluster coda at that, and their movies weren't especially funny by then either.
But imagine it: Cheech & Chong haven't done a show in South Bend, at the Morris since 1977. 1977. That's 33 years ago, an entire generation. The world is beyond changed from that time after the Reagan blight (still ongoing). The next year, the comedy duo would foist "Up in Smoke" on the world, grossing $100 million at the box office and holding the record for the most successful comedy for a little over two decades. Americans still smoke a lot of pot, but I have to wonder if a film like Up in Smoke would do as well today. Very possibly looking at the polls when it comes to legalization! The real treat of the night for me was when Cheech began talking about Tommy Chong's days up in Vancouver during the early 1960s when he was playing with the R&B combo of Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (one of their sometime stage names was rumored to be "Four Niggers & a Chink"). Cheech had fled the United States in 1967 along with a lot of other Americans to avoid the draft.
Chong had started up a blues club in Vancouver in 1962, began playing with the Vancouvers not long after that, and in a few years, they were discovered by the management of the Supremes and on Motown records, charting at #29 on the R&B charts for Chong's co-written "Does Your Momma Know About Me?" The Supremes went on to do a rendition of the song that Cheech later saw a copy of, and noticed the co-writer was a "T. Chong," right before he met Tommy. Rumors that Jimi Hendrix played with the Vancouvers are unfounded according to Chong, but he played his song during the show with Cheech accompanying him on vocals. What was a little sad is how it became evident that Cheech & Chong began as a musical duo and kind of wanted to do that mainly, but that nobody knew when they were kidding or not simply because they were and are entertainers who are just inherently funny.
This was the case at the Morris when they did this song--some audience members actually began laughing at what was a fairly heartfelt rendition of a really great song, but oh well, they got to enjoy being a musical act anyway. What makes them funny is what makes Mel Brooks and a lot of the comedy of the 1970s funny: obvious, dopey (in their case, literally) humor. Sketches like "Dave," "Let's Make a Dope Deal," "Blind Melon Chitlin," and even trotted out the character "Hairy Palms," a real treat! The sketches were also a reminder that the majority of C&C sketches aren't funny because they're about drugs.
Chong's chops as a guitarist were excellent and Marin showed that he does indeed have a very pleasant voice and put it to good use. Besides that, the duo did fine renditions of "Save the Whales" (from the opening of the movie "Nice Dreams," a favorite of mine), "Basketball Jones" (1973), "Earache My Eye" (1974, just the song, not the entire sketch), "Born in East L.A." (which is really closer to a solo thing for Marin), "Beaners" (from "Next Movie"), "Mexican Americans" (ditto), and a few others I was too stoned to remember at the time, or even now.
But the show basically began with Shelby Chong conducting a kind of Q&A about where they'd been all these years, Chong's time in prison, the state of the nation and the war on drugs, and even a few personal tidbits about the comedy team that were both funny and sometimes harrowing to hear. Chong seems pretty unfazed and unafraid to speak out against marijuana prohibition thanks to his nine months in federal prison and spoke of how easy it was "to kick" smoking pot when he went inside and extolled the health benefits of the soft drug as did wife Shelby. Cheech was unapologetic as well and has said in recent months that he realized he was "never going to escape" the legacy of Cheech & Chong. So be it.
To say that there are a lot of "heads" in Michiana would be an understatement: the place was packed and you could see nearly everyone heading on foot to the venue imbibing in the sacred plant, so really, you didn't even need to bring anything since a contact high would have probably done you straight anyway. My mother saw C&C in 1972 at the Morris, so this was truly a full circle affair. Was it a good show? Did we laugh? Yes we did, and sometimes at the most innocuous things Cheech & Chong said about themselves and their lives. A good evening out all around, catch them if you can...literally. They still got it folks, they still got it, and people shouldn't have to apologize for being heads, it's harmless. They were unapologetic, as it should be.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
No, there is not. There's a loose conglomeration of the reactionary right, conservative (whatever that means) senior citizens who have been mislead in thinking that their Medicare is going to be cut, closet racists who had no problem with eight criminal years of Bush II but don't like having a black president, tax protesters, gun rights activists, the rural and suburban unemployed, wacko evangelicals, Libertarians, disgruntled former Republicans, militia nuts, neo-Nazis, and a lot of other people I'd never invite over for a drink or a cookout anytime soon.
What the so-called "Tea Party movement" is constitutes reactionary, rightist populism. In other words, misguided, misdirected populist rage that's apparently not willing to be "co-opted" by the GOP let alone the DNC.
In some crucial sense, they're the opposite side of the coin to the progressive left, meaning the majority of the public when you look at the polls regarding social issues and the spending to combat social problems. The majority is for a leftward reformist model, not a rightward trend. Where does that leave these red-headed stepchildren of the right? As far as anyone can tell, an ineffectual demographic minority that, yes, gets it that Wall Street is the problem, yet doesn't like the idea of New Deal reforms and progressive taxation of the wealthiest.
You know: the dumb assholes who still cling to the American Dream.
There is an off-chance that some of these folks will have that "road to Damascus" conversion and actually see that their own interests are best represented in joining the antiwar and progressive left in the streets (as well as on the Internet), in joining together to stop the corporate assault on our rights, but so far it's a pipe dream. Instead, we all harp on more fringe elements of this demographic, and while that's not entirely misplaced in its importance, it's not all about the problem children, it's about the overall group that's been labelled as "Tea Party." Some have implied that many of these self-styled "Tea Baggers" could only attend many of these events by being small business owners, and indeed, there's a kernal of truth to this. But it's not the entire story, some are simply retired baby boomers.
I'm not really sure why the GOP would even want this disparate gaggle of the terminally confused, but what else do they have left as a base? Yet, as stated before, the demographic is fundamentally mistrustful of the entire political establishment and stubbornly resists being used, of being co-opted. Regardless of that, they have been used pretty effectively by both the GOP and DNC to assist in a creating a smokescreen so that bogus health reform could be passed. It doesn't surpise me that this pseudo-movement began with Texas congressional representative Ron Paul since it's as confused in its viewpoint and message as much as he is. To add to the confusion, the mainstream corporate media affixed the labels to them and let things fly, and fly they have, right out the window.
Is there really a Tea Party movement? I don't think so, and it's not going to decide any national elections anytime soon. What it will do, and has done, is to provide one more spectacle, one more distraction, from the worthwhile goals of reformists and the dreams in the hearts of American populists of every stripe. The Mesopotamian priests used the corruption of language to control the builders of the Tower of Babel--but it went bust, and no one could understand each other anymore, and the pillar that was the society of that time, the work towards real civilization, remained unfinished and the people disbursed. The show was effectively over. Funny that religion is part of the equation again, but if it's broken don't fix it when it comes to holding onto power.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Wikileaks releases what could be evidence of the murder of Reuters journalists as well as civilians in Iraq
WWW--This is a very big deal and gives some more context to possible harassment of Wikileaks by American military and/or intelligence personnel as well as of anyone trying to report the reality on the ground in American occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.
I don't even know how to put this into words, but I do recall this incident from July 12th, 2007 where Iraqi Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed by "friendly fire"...only now it appears that the fire was quite intentional and anything-but-friendly. There also seems to be an element of bloodlust and cowardice on the part of the crew of the Apaches. Did they know the two were journalists? This is unclear, but there is mention in the communications transcript from the copters that seems to connotate that they knew they were "civilians."Is this yet another "isolated" event?
Recall that in early April 2003, three Al-Jazeera journalists were killed by "friendly fire," and also calls to mind the "accidental" shooting of hostage and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who was fired on by American troops just outside of the Baghdad International Airport and nearly killed. One of her Italian intelligence agent rescuers--Nicola Calipari--died of his wounds. Sgrena worked for the Italian Communist paper, Il Manifesto. One might think you're life might be in danger as a correspondent if you're not towing the line for the Pentagon.
A separate site from the main Wikileaks home has been created for the release, possibly for security measures to prevent its hacking:
5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. (www.collateralmurder.com/index)
The military has been mostly silent on how the event occurred and how the slain died, but ruled in an inquiry that the rules of engagement at that time were observed. The whole story underscores the weakness of the FOIA as well, but whatever works, it's out now. Reuters demanded an inquiry and action in the aftermath in 2007, just as they've had to in obtaining the release of other Iraqi Reuters employees/journalists, from Iraqi prisons, and got very little from the Pentagon--at least not copies. They were shown the materials off-the-record. Criminals don't tend to indict themselves, especially when they're the ones in power.
There's no indication from any source of any combat or exchanges of fire immediately before the Apache helicopter gunner opened-fire on civilians and the two journalists, killing as many as eleven. One individual was viewed brandishing an RPG (soviet-designed rocket propelled grenade), but was seen after the event began and shots had already been fired. Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters were involved the 2007 incident with some ground forces nearby. Footage from one helicopter has been leaked to Wikileaks by a military whistleblower(s) and the activist site itself claims to have conducted interviews with other journalists, military personnel and other witnesses at the scene, including consulting with Reuters over the basic facts and timeline.
...WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.
WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work. (ibid)
Wikileaks makes a fine point that occurred to me almost immediately: if we're seeing what we think we're seeing (and hearing), the event could even be part of a pattern of violence, harassment, and intimidation against members of the press in American war zones, especially considering that Reuters has had other incidents of harassment directed against their personnel in Iraq. A few of these journalists were arrested under flimsy pretenses and ferried off to the palatial Abu-Ghraib prison where God knows how they were treated. Now is a time of scoundrels. It hasn't ended with the national elections of 2008.
Wikileaks appears to have done their homework and have even included photographs, a timeline, documents, and even the transcript of the communications between the helicopters, also very telling when taken with the rules of engagement at the time and the 38 minute video. This exchange is most galling and not honorable behavior for soldiers of any army, of any nation:
...17:46 Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.
17:48 That's right. ...
18:29 I think they just drove over a body.
18:31 Hey hey!
18:37 Maybe it was just a visual illusion, but it looked like it.
18:41 Well, they're dead, so. ...
After these comments, there were more shots fired by the crew of the main Apache helicopter and a missile was fired into a building filled with armed civilians. There's no indication that any shots had been fired at the military personnel at any point in the roughly 38 minute event. It should be noted that many Iraqis carry AK-47s into dangerous areas, which one can assume, is when occupying troops and militias are present. Johnny got his gun, was instilled with fear and trained to kill, and imbued with a hair-trigger mentality. This isn't how soldiers are supposed to behave, not at all. Yet, the Pentagon says that this was part of the rules of engagement at the time. Are they sure they want to stand by that one?
Contrary to popular belief, life isn't a videogame.
Wikileak's page on the 2007 slaughter: http://collateralmurder.com/en/download.html
Tyler Bass's blog: http://spectaclemonopolized.
NYTimes article on original Baghdad attack in July 12, 2007
"The war on Wikileaks and why it matters," Salon.com, 03.27.2010: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/03/27/wikileaks?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+salon%252Fgreenwald+%2528Glenn+Greenwald%2529
Saturday, April 03, 2010
This seems to perplex a lot of people, and it's understandable: why would a truly lunatic fringe movement get this kind of airtime when the public opinion is almost completely against them on social issues like health care reform and all the others?
Why? The reasons are manifold and go back to that other period of near anarchy, the 1920s. But it took time after the Republicans handed the airwaves to business, though on a thin legal leash. There was that post-New Deal chipping away, but the big first was when we lost the Fairness Doctrine at the FCC in 1987 thanks to Republican President Ronald Reagan. The doctrine wasn't law, but it guided the broadcasting standards of the United States for decades and allowed for a more equitable access to the airwaves for differing opinions and viewpoints, and it worked. There was at least some variety, not that it was stellar or truly representative of the social/cultural landscape, but it was better.
It also worked because the structure it brought about would never have allowed for the existence of the current echo chamber of the right we now inhabit, and that's including CNN and the major networks that were already traditionally to the right thanks to ownership. This is why Republicans and enemies of free speech everywhere don't want anything approximating a return to something like the Fairness Doctrine. Never mind that the public technically owns the airwaves and has from the start, the interests of big business are more important. But day after day, we see the right-wing nuts on the idiot box. Why?
It's not that complicated, and there's another reason why all the useless flailing is all over the airwaves: it's because the Tea Baggers, the militia nuts, white hate groups, Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, lost white girls, the "birthers," the operatives like James O'Keefe (the "ACORN pimp"), and yes, the multimedia gaggle of mumbling, anti-abortion nuts, Libertarians, babbling morons like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, both of whom have resorted in recent weeks to all but advocating acts of violence against the current President of the United States, Barack Obama, aren't a genuine threat to the status quo in America.
In reality, these mutants and wackos are badly needed by a pro-big business and finance Republican Party that has nearly lost its entire base over the administration of George W. Bush. After that, all you have remaining are the wackos, the fringe, and crumbling establishments often reach for the closest set of cranks when the curtain's about to close on them (including within the political establishment). Some say this is "all part of the plan" (which one?), but I disagree. You couldn't make this shit up, and that's why even the GOP cannot control them. These babbling jackasses, these morons, these throwbacks to the time of the Frontier hick and the lynch mobs that once ran riot in America are, in fact, in many cases, their very descendants. Yes, there is an element of "astroturf" to a lot of it, but these goobers are here, now, and they've been with us, hobbling the rest of us, from the beginning of this nation and will for the foreseeable future.
The message? There is no message coming from these people except, "More of the same." That's pretty pathetic considering many of them are now or are going to be the victims of the very policies they're advocating. Some of us simply like to shit where we eat because it's easier in the beginning. Of course, there is the underlying racism in these protests and the movement, and for many of these lost fools, the biggest fools alive on this rock called earth, it's the only reason they're at a Tea Party rally or why they were at a health care protest against reform: they're angry that a "nigger" is president. The thread connecting the economic elites of America and the white underclass is that they're all Eurotrash and can never truly be "European," no matter how much they prattle on about their respective heritages. Why wouldn't we see them on television, print, and Internet media all of the time?
These idiots are really chasing after an America that never was, but everyone likes watching a spectacle, even me. That'll learn 'ya (or not, maybe ever)!