Friday, March 28, 2008

Adriano Celentano

Check this out. Prisencolinensinainciusol by Adriano Celentano is an Italian club tune that predates balearic and italo disco. It was somewhat of a cult classic on the dancefloor in the 70's. The language he sings in is nonsense-totally made up. The tune is currently being re-edited and re-released by Greg Wilson.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bush's War

PBS just aired Frontline's 5 hour documentary Bush's War. It is a blow by blow account of entire war effort from Sept 11 2001 to present day. It is mostly made up of interviews with the people that were there making the decisions or assisting the people making the decisions. However, there are no interviews with Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowietz, Tenet, or Cheney, only archive news footage. The story holds together surprisingly well and is interesting and easy to understand. From what I gathered it went down like this: Bush and Cheney were elected. Then Cheney brought on his old neo-con warhawk buddy Rumsfeld. They became an insular faction of the government, for the most part excluding Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice from anything they could. It is Rice's duty as Presidential Advisor to make sure the presidents decisions are informed by many points of view. However, she was ignored by Rumsfeld and Cheney always had the last word with Bush at meetings. No vice president had ever wielded power like Cheney.

As soon as 9/11 happened, the idea of attacking Iraq was presented. From the beginning Powell did not want to include Iraq in retaliation plans. He rightfully wanted to concentrate on Al-Qaeda. He is portrayed as a good guy in the doc. Cheney then quickly pushed to make a law that gave the president complete power to do whatever he wanted during war time. He did this secretly and had the memo drafted and signed without anyone knowing. So now basically he and Rumsfeld had the power. Bush didn't do shit, he just made the final decisions he was told to make. They began manufacturing evidence of WMDs. They claimed Iraq had "aluminium tubes" to make WMDs. They then had the NY times write about the situation and quote them saying the WMDs were there. Then, when questioned about WMDs on TV, the neo-cons said "of course they're there, there is an article saying so in the Times today." Of course, they don't mention the only source saying there were WMDs in the article was their quote. This kind of perpetual circular logic was a tool for them to manipulate media, and is a is a good example of how they went about creating propaganda and public support for their cause.

Eventually they went into Iraq. They killed a lot of people and declared victory. Then they sent in L. Paul Bremner to manage day to day affairs like setting up a new government and getting our troops out. This is where a major rift happened between the suits and the soldiers. He royally fucked up when he dissolved the Iraqi military. This meant 50,000 people, whom the army was planning on using to do grunt work, were out of a job and had a reason to be angry. This is where the insurgency really started. The first major roadside attacks were 48 hours later. He also banned the ruling Ba'ath party, which included professors and politicians, and people that knew how to run a government. They were also the voice of Iraq's largest denomination of Islam, the Sunnis, who were now essentially silenced- and pissed off about it. So Bremner went in a made all these heavy decisions without consulting anyone but Rumsfeld. The Military that were in Iraq were furious. All the leaders, included the respected Tommy Franks, quit. They threw their hands up in disgust, flew home, and retired. So Rumsfeld brought up an inexperienced general to lead the 150,000 troops and things only got worse. Total chaos ensued. Estimates for dead Iraqi's are approaching ONE MILLION, while here in America all one hears about is the 4000 dead US soldiers. The doc makes for pretty riveting drama, full of lies, deceit, and the breaking down of the American system of government.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Funny Games

Go check out Funny Games. Austrian director Micheal Haneke (Benny's Video, Cache) remade his 1997 German film in English and set the story in America. Almost everything is the same- every shot, the incredible costumes, the dialogue, and sets. Michael Pitt, Tim Roth, Brady Corbett, and especially Naomi Watts give amazing performances with materiel that must of been tough to shoot. I won't go into what the film is about here because, if possible, I recommend seeing this without knowing ANYTHING about it. It will hit you harder that way. I say this because Tim left a copy of the 1997 version at my house last year. Without hearing or reading about it, I threw it on. The way the story unexpectedly unfolds is pretty mind blowing. After coming out of the theater last night Warren said it was an instant classic but one of the most uncomfortable films he had ever sat through. Indeed, the super long takes and tension are pretty unsettling. But it is beautiful none the less.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Diana Ross Videos: Part 4: Love Hangover

Love Hangover. One of the funkiest riffs in music history. The tune was written by Pamela Sawyer and Marilyn McLeod and originally recorded by Sylvester. It was also recorded and released at the same time as the Ross version by The Fifth Dimension. Apparently Ross and her producer got drunk before recording the song in order to loosen her up. This was Diana's first foray into disco, releasing the song in 1976. It went strait to number one on every chart. This version is from the TV show Midnight Special. Once again Diana brings audience members on stage, this time making fun of the guy after she makes him sing. Diana's personality really shines through in this clip. Amazing stuff.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hangover of the Year

Yeah, we all get real fucked up now and then. Maybe even black out and wake up in a weird place. But goddamn- look at this kid! This is my choice out of the Hangover of the Year Finalists, with the kid shitting himself a close second. I like this picture because his friends were nice enough to bring him a pillow to try and rest his head on- but not pull him out of the bathroom. Classic. A lot of the sites hosting the pictures have omitted the one below. I think it is hysterical. I love the look on the girls face in the corner. Must of been a hell of a party.

Fuck TMZ

"Everybody who works in tabloid media are people who are filled with self-hatred and shame, and the way they manage those feelings is they destroy the lives of other people.” -Alec Baldwin

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Diana Ross Videos: Part 3: I'm Coming Out

Our Diana Ross video retrospective continues with a montage from her two free concerts in Central Park, NYC in 1983. She performs in the pouring rain for 800,000 people each day!! The video starts with day one and a little clip of her singing Ain't No Mountain High Enough soaking wet. We then see her start singing the opening number of day two IN HER TRAILER. Diana really knows how to enter and exit a stage. At the 1996 Super Bowl performance she left singing in a helicopter. Anyway, here she sprints to the stage singing her classic hit I'm Coming Out. You can feel the excitement in the air. The tune is another Rogers/Edwards Chic production that became a gay anthem upon its release in 1980. They said they wrote it after seeing drag queens dressed as Diana in an Los Angeles disco. The last tune isn't particularly noteworthy but she sure does belt it out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scientology Protests

Protests and picketing outside Scientology centers have started in Los Angeles. Hundreds of people gathered February 10th outside the Hollywood boulevard location and at Scientology centers around the world. The 10th is an annual global day of protest honoring the death of Lisa McPherson, who died in hands of the church after being denied medical care because of their belief that psychiatry kills. Many followers have died after being treated with vitamins and audits instead of medicine. The protests are organized by an online group called 'Anonymous' who vow to ruin the church. They already managed to temporarily bring down their website earlier this year. They post intense manifestos on youtube. Of course, protesters are masked, because as you can see in the photo below CoS is filming everything. And they will come after you. Also, if you're not familiar with Operation Clambake it is the number one source for truths about Scientology. Once you get to reading this stuff, it becomes clear CoS is not a "church" but an organized crime syndicate, robbing and exploiting the poor and vulnerable all over the world. They are an anti-intellectual, coercive, evil, maliciously self-serving mind control group. Thanks to Sara Woo who told me about this website where I found out about the protests and got the pictures from. The next one is this Saturday, March 15th.

And the enemy: the empty headed Tom Cruise receives the "medal of valor" from his best friend and church leader David Miscavige.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Works of John Fante

Some of the best writing I have read is that of John Fante. He was born and raised dirt poor in Colorado in the 1910s and 20s. He moved to Los Angeles at 18 and lived there until his death. There, he started out living on the streets of Wilmington struggling to write and survive. He eventually moved to Angels Flight in downtown LA where he lived and worked for years. Eventually he found some success with a few novels, then started writing screenplays for Hollywood. By all accounts he wrote whatever the studios wanted. He returned to his passion, novels and short stories in his later years, his final work was dictated to his wife because he had lost his sight and legs to diabetes. Since my brother first gave me his masterpiece Ask The Dust a few months ago I have been working my way through his books. That story is a good place to start and a good introduction to the Arturo Bandini saga. The saga is four books about Bandini written over a period of 40 years. Arturo Bandini is an intimate style of writing and a character he uses to describe his life experiences. Probably the funniest, coolest, most honest writing ever. When in a drunken rage Charles Bukowski used to scream "I am Arturo Bandini!" Bukowski claimed Fante was "his God" and it was he who convinced Black Sparrow press to re-publish all of Fantes, at the time, very hard to find books. I just read this book, the first in the Bandini saga:

This is about his upbringing in Colorado. The insight and emotional depth here are staggering. An absolutely beautiful work. Published in 1938 it was his first book and was critically acclaimed. It didn't sell to well due to the fact the publishing company had its advertising funds tied up in a legal matter concerning the publishing of a little book by an upcoming political figure called Mein Kampf. Fante had a bit more recognition with Ask The Dust.

One of my favorite books ever, I wrote about it earlier this year.

In the Brotherhood of the Grape Fante uses a different name: the Molini family. In this he is grown up, living in Redondo Beach, and goes to visit his family who live outside Stockton. It is mostly about his derelict Italian father and his friends who drink wine, gamble, and fuck women all day. They are some crazy old men by any ones standards. The unhealthy but too-proud father is a stone mason and convinces his reluctant son to build a smokehouse with him up in the mountains. This is an incredible story with extraordinary insight as he describes his family with painful honesty. The way the family treats each other is brutal to read but you know that's how families work. Another book that takes place in his later years is West of Rome:

This contains two novellas: My Dog Stupid and The Orgy. The Orgy takes place around the time of Wait Until Spring. At his mothers assistance young Molini goes to help his father and a friend at a silver mine that they go to each weekend. He finds them not working but holed up in a dirty shack, hammered on red wine, and fucking some lady that drives a beat up Cadillac. The young Molini freaks out and sprays his mothers Holy Water all over them as he breaks down in confused tears. My Dog Stupid takes place in Malibu in the 60's as he raises his hippie kids and looks for work as a screenwriter. Again, he just writes about what is going on around him with his family and it is nothing short of amazing prose.

Dream from Bunker Hill. This is the one he wrote in 1982 by dictating it to his wife. It picks up where Ask the Dust leaves off. He gets a job making big money writing screenplays and he tries moving out of Bunker Hill. Everything seems perfect until the studio won't give him an assignment, they just have him 'on hold'. Bandini, of course, won't stand for this and things unravel from there. This is a shorter book divided into small chapters that make for quick easy reading. Highly recommended.

There is one more book I have yet to read in the Bandini saga: The Road to Los Angeles. There are the short story collections Dago Red, The Wine of Youth, and The Big Hunger. Also Selected Letters and 1933 Was a Bad Year. Judging by the titles of those books, they are going to be good.