Even Odds and Split Ends

Random stuff I’ve received, mostly by e-mail, in the past week or so.

HALLOWEEN

For those of you too broke or too cheap to buy your own pumpkin.

MUSIC

Pete Townsend of the Who has a blog, on which he is publishing a story called ‘The Boy Who Heard Music’. I saw this on a wire story, but it gave the URL as Blogger.com or Blogspot.com. Lazy journalism, that.

A lot of interesting-looking articles and reviews about books (Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke), music (Sigur Rós, Anoushka Shankar Charlie Sexton), film in both DVD (Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection) and in theaters (David Cronenberg’s History of Violence) and TV DVDs (Arrested Development, Veronica Mars)in a magazine called Paste.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find online the one story I most wanted to read, about Sir Paul McCartney, which may have been the point. The Elizabethtown cover is a watercolor by Joni Mitchell, her first watercolor piece since the So Far album cover for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Stevie Wonder’s much-delayed album, “A Time to Love”, which I said was coming out in May, and then in June, was FINALLY released on October 18. My wife promised to get it for me for our anniversary, which was in May.

Here is a review of an album that I’ve never heard by an artist I never heard of. It gives me hope for the future of the Republic.

OH, ALBANY

An old pic of a bridge only a few hundred yards from my workplace. Familiar landmarks should be obvious to the locals, especially the building to the right of the closest footing…

Oh and click on the “picture” of me for my not-so-secret message.

POLITICS

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s e-mail newsletter
September 2005, Vol. 4, No. 7
Dissent Is Patriotic

Beyond Reason
“This extremely powerful 89 minute film presents comprehensive documentation from United States Government archives of a massive cover-up, including military and civilian experimentation, dating back over 60 years.”

Go to this site if you wish to pledge to only support candidates who:
Acknowledge that the U.S. was misled into the war in Iraq
Advocate for a responsible exit plan with a timeline
Support our troops both at home and abroad

A better way to vote.

DeLay’s Lawyer Lies About MoveOn. Unless he just repeated a lie told by his client. Or he was just mistaken. And the lie has been perpetuated by the mainstream media.
Naturally, my pal Dan is outraged:
Dear Associated Press:
I have become aware that you people have happily and enthusiastically repeated the lie spread by the lawyer for the criminal corporatist Tom DeLay, that the patriotic organization MoveOn is printing t- shirts with DeLay’s mug shot.
Because you are a virtual monopoly, you have an obligation to print the truth. You people need to immediately provide a retraction, and recommend to the corporate media outlets for which you provide content to print the retraction.
I realize that such an act of integrity runs counter to the corporate political agenda which it is your mission to promote. However, each lie that you amplify, each bit of truth that you suppress, each line of disinformation that you spread undercuts the perceived integrity of the corporate media outlets that you people provide for.
As more and more of the public becomes aware of the unreliability of corporate media outlets, the more of the corporate print outlets go out of business because of lack of readership. Each outlet that goes under brings the Associated Press closer to bankruptcy and dissolution.
Rest assured that I am working every day to cause your demise. It’s easy. All I have to do is point out to the people around me the lies that you people spread, and eventually they understand.
So I ask you to tell the truth. But, since I live in a reality based mode of existence, I understand that you people can no more tell the truth than flap your arms and fly. Thus, all I can say is, if you want to lie, then go ahead. Bring ’em on.

VERY disrespectful.

INFORMATION

This is a great resource for those of you who want to study the history and impact of communications technologies on society.

A new blog with a collection of information policy articles

Soil And Health Library
“Health begins in the soil; Healing begins with hygiene; Liberty begins with freedom. This is a specialist library about holistic agriculture, holistic health and self-sufficient homestead living. Most of the titles in this library are out of print. Many are quite hard to find.
“This is a free public library. No membership payment is required to get full access to its contents. However, donations are solicited.
“The Soil and Health Library has four major sections:
“Radical Agriculture. The nutritional qualities of food and consequently the health of the animals and humans eating that food are determined by soil fertility. This section’s interest is far wider than organic gardening and farming; other health-determined approaches to food-raising are also included.
“The Restoration and Maintenance of Health. Nutritional medicine heals disease, builds and maintains health with diet—and sometimes heals with fasting or other forms of dietary restriction. There are many approaches represented in this collection. There is also a collection concerning longevity and nutritional anthropology.
“Achieving Personal Sovereignty. Physical, mental, and spiritual health are linked to one’s lifestyle. This collection focuses on liberating activities, especially homesteading and the skills it takes to do that—small-scale entrepreneuring, financial independence, frugality, and voluntary simplicity. There is also a collection of social criticism, especially from a back-to-the-land point of view.
“Achieving Spiritual Freedom. There are many seemingly-different self-betterment roads. The books in this collection seek to empower a person to effect their own development in an independent manner.”

Making the Case for "Amos ‘n’ Andy"

I asked some questions on Saturday. Here are my answers.

Should Amos ‘n’ Andy be aired?

Absolutely Yes. It occurred to me, during the discussions of Banned Books Week recently, that there is a great deal of fear of things (books, movies) that people haven’t even seen or read. Recall, for instance, the protests before the movies Passion of the Christ or Farenheit 9/11 were even released.

I’ve never seen Amos ‘n’ Andy. Even *I* am too young. The only part of I’ve ever viewed was a short segment during some TV Land documentary about blacks on television a couple seasons ago. Maybe I SHOULD see it, maybe we ALL should see it, to find out what the controversy is all about, first hand. We’ll have a national discussion about it.

In what manner? With caveats? Only late at night? Only on cable? Only available on video and/or DVD?

On PBS, educational TV. It seems to me that it fits in with that promise to “enrich the lives of all Americans.” Let’s face it: there are other outlets that take address issues that were once pretty much the sole provence of public television (History Channel, Biography, and a number of networks geared towards kids.) PBS’ other advantage is that it is a broadcast outlet that reeaches most homes without cable. Of COURSE, with caveats, discussion of the historical context, etc.

Of course, it will NEVER happen, since PBS stations, understandably, are worried about their fundraising abilities.

“Have you personally ever felt that you were being discriminated against because of your race?”

Oh, God, yes.

“How close do you think we are to eliminating discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities in America once and for all? Are we very close, fairly close, not too close, or not close at all?”

Not too close. That overt “separate water fountain” stuff that one associated with the American Souith is largely gone, replaced by that more subtle form that existed in the North even in the 1960s, when Northerners were so good at tsk tsking the folks in the South. Now, that more subtle form is by and large the universal form. One of these days, I’ll write more on this.

If you are a-mind to, please indicate your race.

Black. And I promised some months ago, to say why I prefer that to “African-American”. Well, partly, it is that it’s too limiting. There are lots of folks who are black Africans, or from the Caribbean or elsewhere, perhaps originally from Africa, but removed from it.
When I see the code A on some forms, I automatically think Asian.
Also, I’ve lived through colored, Negro, Black, Afro-American, Black again, then African-American. Black is plain simpler, six syllables less, and life is just too short.

Oh, and while I think of it, I think the idea of dressing up and the ban on bling for NBA players is a good thing. Some players disagree and suggest that it’s racist. Certainly, it’s race conscious, banning a gangsta look, but I see it as a way to keep fannies in the seats and watching on TV. Other professional sports players dress in suits on the road. I DO sympathize wit the playerr who has trouble finding a suit in his size; I guess each signing bonus herafter will include a clothing allowance.

Noble Pinter


Harold Pinter has been awarded a Nobel Prize in literature. I realize that I need to note that fact because, in some peculiar way, his observational tactic (or my reductivist understanding of same) has informed how I look at the world. I hear an intriguing piece of dialogue on in an elevator, then the door closes, and I’m thinking “that was very Pinteresque.” Of course, the playright imbued the seemingly mundane with magical meaning.

Beyond that, I also appreciate the fact that he wrote many plays and screenplays, most notably for me, the screenplay for the movie The French Lieutenant’s Woman. And his fight against political oppression, as well as his scathing criticism of W’s invasion of Iraq, warmed my heart as well.

The links will show you far more. For me, this award is, as I like to say, a BFD.

3 ?s on Race in America

PLEASE feel free to answer any and all.

1. In an article titled “TV Themes’ Swan Song” I read in TV Week, noted television critic Tom Shales writes:

Among the most curious juxtapositions of the early years was the heavenly a cappella chorus that opened and closed every episode of “Amos ‘n Andy,” now the least-seen classic in TV history. The show did traffic in African American stereotypes-most offensively with the characters of crooked lawyer Algonquin J. Calhoun and a lazy handyman named Lightnin’-but in fact, blacks from many social strata were featured on the program.

In one episode, the Kingfish is visited by two FBI men, and both of them are the same color as the Kingfish. Andy was Kingfish’s clueless stooge, but Amos the cab driver was an upright solid citizen. Whatever-it was that strangely unlikely theme song, wordlessly sung by a choir while graphics showed the New York skyline at night, that gave the show instant mythic stature, the aura of American fable.

To the best of my knowledge-admittedly inadequate-the theme dates at least as far back as D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” and, under the title “The Perfect Song,” was used to accompany many other “silent” films.

Bill Cosby is among the prominent African Americans who have said that “Amos ‘n Andy” can and should be shown now that its stereotypes are offset by the masterful intensity of its performances. But CBS keeps it under lock and lock, and yet another lock, and who even knows where the key is?

So, the first question: should Amos ‘n’ Andy be aired? In what manner? With caveats? Only late at night? Only on cable? Only available on video and/or DVD?

2. This I stole from an ABC News poll in June 2005:
“Have you personally ever felt that you were being discriminated against because of your race?”

3. From an AP poll from March 2003:
“How close do you think we are to eliminating discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities in America once and for all? Are we very close, fairly close, not too close, or not close at all?”

If you are a-mind to, please indicate your race.

I think I’ll post my answers on Monday. I don’t want to color your responses.

Little Things on TV I wondered about

1. Was the idea of Earl (My Name is Earl) and Joey (guess what?) both in classes of English as a Second Language as a major part of the plots this week just a coincidence, or was it plotted?

2. The former Secretary of State on the upcoming Gilmore Girls? How DID that happen? (I love it!)

3. How can people mess up identifying Beatle lyrics (A Day in the Life, Taxman, I Am the Walrus – all missed) so badly on JEOPARDY!