THE GREATEST CYNIC OF ALL

As long as I'm posting messages from friends and messages about movies, here's one about another movie (more or less) from another friend, a guy who calls himself Mr. Cheer, whom I'd tipped to Christopher Bray's review of Clinton Heylin's new book, "Despite the System: Orson Welles versus the Hollywood Studios," in the Sunday (London) Times. Jan -- Read the review, and he's right. Genius or not, the Big Boy was the engineer of his doom. I have an audiotape where his pals (John Houseman, notably, because he was the only man who could control … [Read more...]

SCHECTER CALLING ALL FANS

Filmmaker Danny Schechter's latest flick, "Weapons of Mass Deception," will be released later this week. Have a look at the 30-second TV spot to be aired in New York on CNN, Fox and MSNBC. He sends this message: Dear friends, I am writing to friends, colleagues, and anyone I can think [of who] might be interested in knowing that our film indicting media coverage of the Iraq war will be opening in New York at the Village East Theater (12th and Second Avenue) on Friday evening (Feb. 4) for a week or more, depending on the turnout. Winning a … [Read more...]

SIRHAN SIRHAN: ‘MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE’?

Sirhan Sirhan joined a conservationist suit, as noted in December, to preserve the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Why? Because he and his lawyers believe that bullets still lodged in the hotel walls would prove he was not Kennedy's assassin. (Sirhan, below, in 1997.) Now comes news that he may have a case, according to a new book, "Nemesis," which revives the theory that he was a patsy. British journalist John Hiscock writes in today's Los Angeles Times: Ever since he was seized with a … [Read more...]

DOWNTOWN TRANSCENDENTALISM

Jan -- A few days ago Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner pointed out that women seemed to represent about 50 percent of the downtown electronic music composers. I wondered why there seem to be more women in that scene (if there are). I speculated that it might be because the downtowners have possibly rejected the concept of the artist-prophet -- a sort of patriarchal, transcendentally inspired artist who is either seen as a voice of the people, or a voice beyond the people. Last night I went to a concert of John Zorn's music at the Miller Theater at … [Read more...]

SECRET SECRETS

Still rolling along as it has been all week, yesterday's Democracy Now! broadcast was another stunner, this time featuring an interview with William Arkin, whose new book, "Code Names," exposes the obsessive secrecy of the U.S. government and its apotheosis under the current regime. Arkin, at right, a longtime investigative journalist and military-affairs analyst, has delved more deeply than anyone, including Sy Hersh, into the hidden corners of the Defense Department and the intelligence agencies, according to observers like Steven Aftergood, … [Read more...]

BORIS LURIE’S ‘NO!ART’ & THE HOLOCAUST

Today, when the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau is recalled with "the mournful whistle of an imaginary [death] train," the little-known No!Art art of Boris Lurie looms like a signal from the remembered depths. See, for example, his "Red Shit Sculpture" (below), or "Immigrant's Box", or "New York-Rumbula" (bottom), or "Bowl of Chains," or his "Immigrant's Suitcase" series. One terrible irony of Lurie's art is that it is "beautiful" in spite of itself, an aesthetic effect alien to his experience as a survivor of Buchenwald-Magdeburg and … [Read more...]

THE GANG’S ALL HERE

Democracy Now! is on a roll. Yesterday it featured Gore Vidal and Matt Rothschild on Geogie Boy's imperial God-mania. This morning it has video excerpts of Seymour Hersh giving a talk, "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult," and Sen. Robert Byrd speaking in the Senate against the nomination of Ms. Mushroom Cloud for Secretary of State because she lied to support the invasion of Iraq with "the most overblown rhetoric that the administration has used to scare the American people." … [Read more...]

REPULSKI’S REVENGE

A reader writes, "Pardon me, boy, is this the Ugly Hombre's Station?" (Click the keys to start the morning off right, but pardon the instrumentation.) He continues: Alas, I've seen it before, the Calamity that comes when a Lifetime of Happy Dreams is crushed against the Rocks of Despair. Yes, we mistake Hapless Twits for villains. We choose the Wrong Folks for enemies in a hot Hong Kong fantasy of Karate Rage: Carson, who only made multitudes smile and never hurt anyone he didn't know, and the pathetic Thomson, once valuable but now a … [Read more...]

SCARY WORDS

Two pieces of essential listening from this morning's edition of Democracy Now!: Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, on the hidden passages in Georgie Boy's inaugural address, and Gore Vidal on the most un-American speech he ever heard. … [Read more...]

CANONIZING CARSON

Yesterday's tonnage was not enough. Now comes David Thomson to lend his expert opinion on the subject of Johnny Carson with an eloquence that has turned spuriouser and spuriouser. Calling Carson "a great movie star" and "a romantic icon," despite appearances, Thomson also declares him "a master spy" and "an immaculate secret." Topping all of that, he canonizes Carson as the holy ghost of the Great Communicator. "I'd guess that Ronald Reagan had spent years studying Mr. Carson's easy persona," Thomson writes. But for whatever reason -- … [Read more...]

KING CARSON RULES, TAKES UP SPACE

In case anyone wants to know the relative historical importance of showbiz celebrity Johnny Carson and Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, a revered World War II hero of the Polish underground who devoted his life to the cause of an independent Poland, the size of their obituaries in this morning's New York Times ought to make it clear: Carson was by far the more significant figure. Carson's obit, beginning on the front page, runs to 3,700 words (more than 10 times the length of Nowak-Jezioranski's) and takes up a full inside page. It is accompanied by a … [Read more...]

JOHNNY HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Old friend Bill Reed entered the competition to eulogize the late Johnny Carson in the first post of his brand new blog. The media was, as Reed says, "abuzz with all manner of hagiographic mudwrestling." … [Read more...]

OH, REALLY?

Writing about Georgie Boy's $40 million inauguration and his overrated speech, David Brooks noted in his Saturday column, headlined "Ideals And Reality": "What you saw in Washington that day is what you see in America so often -- this weird intermingling of high ideals with gross materialism, the lofty and the vulgar cheek to cheek." Anyone who believes in Georgie Boy's high ideals needs a brain tune-up. Count on Brooks to get it exactly backwards. (See Greg Palast's fabulous "Oaf of Office.") As he almost always does, Brooks drew the wrong … [Read more...]

THE TIANANMEN PARADOX

"1984" is alive and well in China, but 1989 is not. "For Beijing Students Now, Protests Aren't Even a Memory" was the headline on Saturday in The New York Times. The story began by quoting 21-year-old "Yu Yang, a mop-haired biology major," who says he barely knows of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising and doubts the facts of the brutal government crackdown: "Rumors say so," Yu told reporter Jim Yardley, "but I need a lot of evidence to believe it." Yardley also quoted other similarly uninformed or skeptical students. One -- asked about Zhao … [Read more...]

THE FUTURE MEETS THE PAST

On Oct. 5, 2018, the 43rd president of the United States died at age 72, according to Greil Marcus. Have a look at Georgie Boy's obit. It's a killer. Coincidentally, Leon Freilich asks, "Did I see you at the inauguration turning your back to King Gorge?" And answers: BLOGGING IN 1776 Blogging's really not that new,Dating back to Thomas Paine;He championed the cause of libertyIn a pamphlet attacking British reign. "Common Sense," which Paine self-published,Forty-seven stirring pages,Set the model for today's bloggers,Creating a medium for the … [Read more...]

326 YEARS OF HIP

The invitation said, "They're Old, they're Cool, they're Wise, and they all lived on the Lower East Side." Needless to say, it was not an invitation to Georgie Boy's inauguration. It was an invitation to a group show, and "they" are octegenarians -- Mary Beach, whose 1998 collage "Pepper Head" (right) illustrates the invitation, Taylor Mead, Boris Lurie and Herbert Huncke, who died in 1996 at age 81. But more than age, they have in common the status of artist outsiders. The Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Museum previews the show tonight with a … [Read more...]

PLEASE DON’T OFFEND MS. MUSHROOM CLOUD

Let us not insult the Bush regime's nominee for Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice by impugning her integrity or credibility, as she claimed Sen. Barbara Boxer did in yesterday's Senate confirmation hearing. After all, pointing out her contradictory statements disturbs the nominee. It offends her dignity. And, gosh, Ms. Mushroom Cloud herself says she respects the truth. (Shame on you, Sen. Joe Biden, for telling her she was full of "malarkey" when she maintained that 120,000 Iraqi troops have been trained.) Nor … [Read more...]