Counting Presents, Pt. 5
Last in a series of blogtastic flashbacks:
Americans of all stripes can be quite pathological with the "they're all crooks" dodge. For sure it reflects a bad McMedia diet among mainstreamers, but I think there's also some veiled cowardice and laziness at work -- if a person chooses sides, why, he or she might actually feel obligated to think & study harder and risk being seen as a rabid partisan in polite company. Easier just to fall back on the "they're all crooks" meme while you watch Jay Leno and eat your Doritos.
Newman takes on nothing less than the doomed nature of economic utopianism, and damned if he doesn't illuminate the issue with lyric & melody like Raymond Carver illuminated subtleties of the human condition with his short stories. While he's in his irony-tinged realm, you don't question Newman having his song protagonist (a successful capitalist, rife with unfair privilege) feel emboldened enough to tell Karl Marx himself that the world is not fair. You welcome it, because Newman's that accomplished an artist.
Vicktoria has always been, by pretty much universal decree, one of those sparkplug individuals: someone who combines charm, smarts, affection and enthusiasm in a way that raises the spirits of those around her. Not that she doesn't have sullen or bitchy moments; it's just that those moments don't define who she is.
The film features "David Strathairn as your dad," as Leonard Pierce put it in his LiveJournal. The Oscar-nominated Strathairn seems to nail Murrow cold, nuance and all, portraying the CBS icon as a heroic figure challenging McCarthy's prolonged Communist witchhunt of the early 1950s, although director/screenwriter George Clooney (who also plays Murrow's producer Fred Friendly) doesn't exactly put the halo on ol' Ed's head.
I remember a day or two after 9/11, when the initial shock was beginning to wear off a little and I'd taken in all the TV drama I could stand, I told my brother: When we all wake up tomorrow, each of us will decide whether to put on a Bruce Willis mask or a Susan Sarandon mask, and that's how we'll get past this.
I've already changed registration once in my life from D to I, before changing it back to D again in 2001. But it remains very tough to ponder "What next?" when giving up on the Democratic Party. Because there just isn't a viable third party, and building one will arguably be as tough or tougher than rebuilding the Dems from within. So one is left in a state of apathetic anarchism, waiting for the end of the world and/or indulging in creature comforts without a thought for social policy. Maybe it won't be long before that will have to be the way to go (one or two more fascist GOP prezdints oughta do the trick), but for now if there's any way to salvage some of the liberal edifice built up over the decades and centuries, that's where the focus still needs to be.
I once imagined starting a band called "Camelot Babes." The first album cover would be a photo of our group in a Lincoln convertible, going down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, and we're all toasting each other with glasses of champagne. Everyone is smiling except me, who looks a bit unnerved by something that seems to be coming from our right.
Lennon challenged him to come up with a style that could demonstrate a similar level of authority as John's; what Paul came up with rivals the best of Ray Davies and Mick Jagger as the purest musical reflection of Swinging London hipster effervescence. Macca was no profound visionary or wit -- he was simply Mr. Cool, and that was enough. He also could sing his ass off, which especially helped when called upon to rock out.
Later, minus John and plus fellow hardcore stoner Linda, he indulged in an aesthetic that Robert Christgau called pop for potheads. Sloppier by design than The Beatles, and more hit and miss without a George Martin to rein in the counterproductive excess, but often a whole lot of fun, and his melodic mojo remained strong.
One wonders how much more deeply programmed to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" mode the corporations can make people, before Katrina-like events become annual. Because I do think the targeted endgame is, to make the poor plebes useful and optimistic in their newfound shit surroundings.
I suppose in this PC day and age it was just a matter of time before Highlights magazine blurred the classic distinction between Goofus' scary coldness and Gallant's bland politeness. To my mind, this distinction served the G & G comic very effectively for decades, making it closer to a slice of real life than much of what has passed for kiddie infotainment. Now they're like two sides of the same "cute and lovable" coin -- the new Goofus seems more like a confused, cheerful puppy dog than a would-be Machiavellian.
There they were again on the front page of this morning's Oregonian, those two burning towers. They've burned a bigger hole into our collective memory than perhaps any other filmed event. Five years of having our noses rubbed in 9/11 has gone way beyond mere media overkill, into an extreme, manipulative, masturbatory zone of fear and hate porn. And thus, when the nose rubbing began again this morning, I could barely look at the O's front page.
Neoconservatives and Republicans in general are propagandists and con men first, thinkers and statesmen second. Motivated by fear of the liberal boogeymen they've formulated in their heads, they have no problem with manufacturing a faux reality and then packaging that reality for public consumption, if it keeps liberals at bay. And in our uber-corporate, media-drenched post-9/11 world, that passion for propaganda fits the poisonous zeitgeist like a glove.
This is a man on record saying he'll stay the course even if only his wife and dog support him. In his dry-drunk mind, the sick fuck still thinks he's God's President, and he comforts himself with the thought that he's like other stalwart souls who were unpopular during their lifetimes, but were ultimately proven right because of their loyalty to his Personal Jesus.
The mainstream media lives the "we create our own reality" mantra every day, more than BushCo could ever hope to do, and for quite a bit longer than BushCo has been in power.
The MSM remains, in my view, probably the most corrosive force in America. They generally enable the corporatist thugs -- although with the Mark Foleys and Tom DeLays of the world shooting themselves in the foot, it was hard to do this time -- and they exploit and brainwash most of the rest.
They'll come back with a new and improved group of puppets, that much we can count on.
I call today's young adults the Clinton Generation. People who formed worldviews and/or gained political consciousness during the '90s. A time marked by peace, prosperity and multiculturalism. A time of huge breakthroughs in communication, with the rise of the Internet. Also, a time of mostly Democratic rule in the White House and the Senate (and up until 1995, the House.)
It certainly wasn't a time without flaw or vulnerability, but I'm not surprised that kids who grew up then have a lingering affinity for the ideas of the political party that was in power then.
Dr. Ellsworth was quite the character -- he'd say things in class like "Hitler was no worse" than other despots through history, or a tongue-in-cheek "You should be shot!" when someone said something he disagreed with -- and he seemed to like me as a student, in his own dry, detached, bemused way.
We had lunch two or three times in the campus lunchroom, and mostly talked Existentialism 101. He said a key to living smartly was being aware of one's illusions, one's being drunk in the face of the empty, meaningless reality of things.
Her latest performance, which I saw last Friday, shows her continuing to grow as an actor and a singer. Not just someone who can belt out the tunes on key, plus enunciate the lines correctly and with proper volume. But someone who is beginning to master inflection and nuance, and really creating a bond with an audience. That's the mark of an artist, and she is one.
(I)f the powers that be couldn't abide Clinton-era prosperity ("Where are my well-deserved tax cuts?", they bellowed.), then it's hard to imagine how any Obama, Gore or Hillary-era recovery would cause any of 'em to abandon their cutthroat Randian ways.
In short, triangulation at best only delays the inevitable return to power of a new and improved Corporate Fascist. Something more is required: a skilled (and likely difficult) blend of uncommon nerve and rhetoric.
The role of macho ego as a prime inspiration for star players shouldn't be underestimated. Shaq and Wilt did the personal calculus, and figured that looking "like a sissy" would threaten their confidence in ways beyond the free-throw line. Better to risk missing a few (or more than a few) FTs than risk messing with the total mojo, I guess. The career stats and championships won by both Shaq and Wilt seem to back their decisions, but one wishes athletes didn't so desperately rely on the macho shit to bolster their egos.
I know I really love music and all, but might not some of that mindspace time be better filled with something more practical and less dreamlike?
I'm not sure, and of course that begs the difficult question: Why can't I live a life where dreaming of music all the time is practical, is of the "real" world.
“Action" and "acceptance" are just words most of the time, ideals out of reach. But occasionally I grasp moments of being in a state of action, where fear is not paralyzing; and in a state of acceptance, where misfortune is simply part of a unindictable larger process.
These are moments that keep me going, and keep me looking for more of that. I don't know if in this lifetime I'll break through to the peace and composure that Cohen, now in his 70s, seems to radiate with, in the years after his stay in a Buddhist monastery.
To an agnostic and an aesthete like myself, used to seeing lazy or bizarre creative choices by those in modern organized religion, it seemed like this fellow might be making a mistake. I could respect the passion of his piety; admire how his faith hadn’t come at the cost of cultural savvy. But I had doubts about his career judgment.
I see now that my judgment was too harsh. Certainly I could’ve been more open to the idea that he could transform his church in a refreshing and constructive way, with his creative talents. I dearly love the secular realm of art and artists, but I wonder if I love it a little too much sometimes.
The thing about his writings is, I don't remember the storylines so much as the consistent tone (measured, wise, imaginative, darkly humorous) that made Vonnegut's books so appealing to me. If that's a triumph of style over substance, and may reflect the biggest knock that critics have on him, then count me as a sucker for it. His writing is supposedly a teenage crush that one outgrows, but my appreciation for him came primarily in my adult years.
People want the candidate most likely of giving them a magical Hollywood ending, which they've been programmed to believe is America's birthright. In such an environment, getting the corporate media to have your back is crucial, because their news images of "reality" can be made to approximate the familiar Hollywood archetypes.