TOP OF THE PILE: What I’m Watching and Reading and listening to!

2 Albums by Taureg music group TINARIWEN. Both come recommended. AMAN IMAN and TASSILLI

BIUTIFUL- by the director of BABEL, comes an intriguing and well performed, if pessimistic film. Not something to re-watch.

BLOW-UP – Highly overrated film and more than a bit boring

OPEN CITY – Italian neo-realism, not in the mood.

FRED THE CLOWN Graphic Novel -Excellent humor book, with lovely cartoony art. Worth owning

THE BEST OF THE SPIRIT- reads more than a bit dated, not as visually dynamic as I was led to believe. Plus the poor newsprint paper doesn’t help, as it muddies any details in Eisner’s art

AGONY- Surreal does not translate always into Good, as this experimental but not very engaging movie on the life of Russia’s mad monk, illustrates. Plodding.

THE WAY- excellent 2nd film by Emilio Estevez, stars his father Martin Sheen. Great film.

LIMITLESS- Visually imaginative, stylish, entertaining and addictive film

Exclusionary TV: Whites Only Television? MADMEN, PAN-AM and REVENGE

Provocative title huh?

Well, it’s not quite as provocative as it seems. The premise of this article isn’t that shows such as MADMEN, PAN-AM, and REVENGE are in and of themselves bad or bigoted shows.

They may in and of themselves be good shows. But shows, dramas or scifi or action, that are predominantly White, when not off-set by any shows that are predominantly Black or colored, true to the definition of predominant… create an environment, a medium, that is about the ascendancy, importance, influence, authority of force of one group.

In such an environment it is impossible for me to buy into, relate, follow, view, or otherwise enjoy such shows. Now in an environment where a show such as PAN-AM is counter-pointed with a show on The forming of AIR JAMAICA or the Black Stuntmen’s Union or the Black Coyboys’ Union or any adventure or thrilling show with a predominant cast of color; then PAN-AM rather than being indicative of a color and ethnic bias in every show in tv, can be seen as one voice in a chorus, rather than the same voice, everywhere.

So that’s the problem I have with shows such as MADMEN and REVENGE they paint everything with the same trite and pale brush (take the series REVENGE, based on a book by the son of one of the most famous Black men, and the cast is all white. Explain that to me? Along with that it always rings false that we have yet to see a THREE MUSKETEERS that represents the ethnicity of the author Alexandre Dumas, or the ethnicity of the inspiration for all Dumas’ heroes, namely his father, France’s most famous and most feared soldier, the elder Alexandre Dumas, (inexplicably called Thomas-Alexandre in recent writings), the Black giant, the warrior Moor, Napolean’s most feared and brilliant General. The COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is directly inspired by how his father was betrayed by Napolean, imprisoned, and killed. And rather than anyone ever tell that story, it becomes in REVENGE about a blond woman, mad about something. Forgive me if I have no interest in that retelling.)

So, What’s the solution?

We’ll get to it. First indulge me, with a brief trip to yesteryear.

In the late 50s, into the 60s and 70s television and cinema in the US, and indeed throughout the Western World, made great strides in becoming more representative of the class struggle going on throughout the world.

That’s a fact, it just is. So let’s begin there.

As countries from Congo to Cuba to Korea to the West Indies to Brazil all were dealing, at various stages, with the shattering of traditional Colonial ties. With populations of repressed people, embracing the concept, both with artistry and arms, of “not eating at another man’s table” but creating their own table.

It was a staggering period not just of revolution, but potentially evolution… for the world and the west.

Rather than mass media that explored and showcased only the fantasies and the fears of the white and the male you began getting shows that took place in a world reflective of the movements changing the landscape of our cultures and our time. Civil disobedience, and sit-ins, and Black power, and Native American rights, transcendentalism and free love, sexual and religious experimentation, and of course war and the search for peace and self identification.

And all these growing pains, all of this stew of change, could be seen in the entertainment of the age.

DANGER MAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, PROFESSIONALS, GOOD TIMES, SANFORD AND SON, the rise of Soul Cinema, and the rise of Hong Kong Cinema, and Neo-Realism in Italy, and the New Wave in France, and the didactic films out of Russia, and Brazil, and Cuba, and Senegal, all of this making its way to newly born film studies programs in the states that gave birth to a whole generation of entertainment makers excited and influenced and inspired by this time of change and challenge.

So suddenly you had Patrick McGoohan in the DANGER MAN TV show 50 years ago globe-trotting and going to different countries and different people, and exploring issues of colonialism, and civil war, and terrorism, and governmental oppression, and doing this with a changing ethnically diverse cast. Dealing with issues of Middle East tensions and modern slavery. And this kind of informed and humanistic film-making came from the creators down. And all the shows of that period, while not DANGER MAN ground breaking, to greater or lesser degrees were that informed and representative of a culturally diverse and changing world.

Move the clock forward 50 years, and suddenly you have no community owned or locally owned cinema, much less production companies. That’s not an accident, that’s a very pointed, and very considered monopolization and marginalization.

You have the end of virtually any locally or regionally owned newspaper, radio, or television station. So you get the end of people and community created movements, and art and music, and you get instead corporate construction of reality and ‘art’ in things like AMERICAN IDOL and its ilk.

You have cinema and television that is in retreat from ideas… like diversity and the rights of man, and instead seeks a return to the exclusionary, blinders on, cinema of the 50s. Not just in terms of content and cast in front of the camera, but talent and crew behind the camera.

As, in reality, the mad military war machine of billionaires undoes the local determinism of countries like Haiti and Liberia and Libya, so too is our entertainment,no less the tool of billionaires, undoing the strides made toward multiculturalism. A return to “Whites only” television from MADMEN to PAN-AM to REVENGE.

And those shows while they hold no interest for me, would be fine if they were counterpointed by an equal number of US made shows with a majority of Black or Brown or Asian or a combination thereof, of actors in front the camera, and talent behind the camera.

And the talent is there, as screenwriters such as John Ridley discuss in numerous interviews. Even more talent than was available in the 60s and 70s is available now, the difference is, the cinemas are bought up, the advertising is cost prohibitive, and quite frankly the doors are closed.

In the 60s and 70s, Hollywood saw the need for an influx of diversity to save them from the rise of Independent Cinema (an outgrowth of viable and healthy local cinemas, local determinism), and there were a good number of people in the studios who were happy and excited for that diversity. They were part of the changing times, and part of changing it.

Today Independent Cinema has no way into the theaters, because the locally owned theater circuit, and indeed the community controlled mass-media circuit that served America, particularly Black America from the 20s to the 70s, has been bought out, legalized away, and generally dismantled.

For what was gained, more was lost in the compromise of integration.

The problem with the doctrine of separate and equal, was the fact that is was NEVER separate and equal, it was always separate and UNEQUAL. The Black Power movement and Black Panther movement was about making it SEPARATE AND EQUAL. Was to make the lie into the truth. And that is the reason we have integration today. Because the idea of separate and equal, scared the powers to be to their very soul.

They saw in the more moderate integration model of Martin Luther and his ilk, a compromise that could become a massive victory. They retreated from Separate and (Un)equal and embraced Integration of a sort, “you can now use our Bathrooms, you can now to an extent come into our house, but… you have to lose your house. You have to lose your radio stations, your movie theaters, your stores, your farms, your wallstreets, your sports teams, your attempt at self determination”.

Of course it wasn’t presented like that, but a few decades later that’s absolutely what has happened. The thriving economic base of Black America that thrived even under the odiousness of Separate but unequal, wherein they could still provide for themselves and be self sufficient, has been completely gutted under the together but even more UNEQUAL system of integration. And that robbing of local determinism has extended to all America. Has shown itself to be the most significant volley in a class-war that has America trillions of dollars in debt, and slaved, to corporations gross and immoral.

And television and cinema is the clearest example of this wholesale pillaging of a peoples economic potential.

So that’s what I see when I see shows like MADMAN or PANAM or REVENGE or SMALLVILLE (past season 4) I see prejudice and bigotry and class warfare… codified.

So you have a television and a cinema environment that has turned back the clock, and is again solely about showcasing the fantasies and the fears of the white and the rich, to the exclusion of all else.

It bores me to go backwards. To learn from the past is a great thing, to repeat the past is not. And we have a whole generation of studio execs and heads, who think they are doing something new by embracing the old, and all they are doing… is wasting time.

In a multi-cultural society, an increasingly multi-cultural society, these dreams of exclusion cannot stand, they will become unsatisfying, they always do. And in the end we will have to waste years just getting back to the same point of diversity as the 1970s. Getting back to the starting point from which we should be… evolving.

So let’s cut out some of the time wasting. Contact these studios signing off on this exclusionary television, the creators and producers, twitter them, facebook em, call’em, even write em, let them know the show doesn’t represent you, and to create a show that does. And let the advertisers know, say “this show boycotts me and mine. Since you are asking me to support your product, I want you to produce a show that supports me.”

It’s economics people. For all their crushing of competition, ultimately the decision makers and gate-keepers still need to create a product you want to buy. Let them know they are failing at that mandate.

Let them know you want to see more shows, that are both smart and diverse.

Day Break – The Complete Series- Do not buy the 2disk version, get the 4 disk version

55 Degrees North – Series One & Two – 5-DVD Box Set ( Fifty Five Degrees North ) ( 55 Degrees North – Entire Series 1 & 2 ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2.4 Import – United Kingdom ]

Kidnapped – The Complete Series

Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Collection (Slimline Packaging)

The Philanthropist: The Complete Series

Kings – The Complete Series

Blood & Bone

I Am Cuba: The Ultimate Edition

Let them know you want to see more DAY BREAK with Taye Diggs and Moon Bloodgood, more 55 DEGREES NORTH with Don Gilet, more KINGS with Eamonn Walker more BLOOD AND BONE with Michael Jai White, more James Purefoy and Jesse L. Martin in THE PHILANTHROPIST (the spiritual descendant of McGoohan’s DANGER MAN); more shows that look forward to solutions, rather than backward to evasions.

Challenge the creators, challenge the studios, challenge the advertisers, challenge the performers, and challenge yourself to go not marching backward, but to go forward… into the mystery. And ultimately we will as cities and a nation, have to eschew outside control, and embrace again local production of items and local determinism.

And it starts as simply as recognizing and calling out the prejudiced the exclusionary and the destructive when we see it.

Here endeth the lesson.

The News Thing, a boat of lost souls, and the cross

This is me, ranting. Bat crazy ranting. Those who want to avoid Bat Crazy ranting, avoid this one, come back tomorrow and hear about super-heroes punching each other in their under-wear. 🙂

I don’t really do… the news thing.

I mean the major stuff I keep abreast of, if the president and congress are trying to sell first borns to big business, etc. But the 24 hour, FOX/CNN/SS constant “thought police, be afraid, believe, color coded terror, be afraid”… not really my bag.

You tell me something one time a day, that’s news. You tell me something 72 times a day, the same thing, 3 times an hour, that is not about news, that is about programming. That is about conditioning. That is about terror.

That is about you, the media, in ways deep and dreadful and not at all healthy, trying to touch me.

I watch people, sit in front their tv god… constantly just soaking up and regurgitating another man’s hate.

Older women in my family, god love women, but they are like sponges for the dreams of madmen, raised on serialized entertainment, on soap operas, so news and talk shows are just more soap operas to them. Idiocy is just more entertainment to them. And they will open up their mouths and parrot out of their mouths whatever is on television… without questioning.

“Oh isn’t it good we’re invading Libya” one recently said to me, when this nation (under God?) was committing yet another coup in a sovereign nation.

“Why?” I asked her.

“Cause of all the bad things the leader has done to his people.”

“Do you mean Gaddafi, who was supporting the civil rights movement in this country, and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, when the American government wouldn’t let great quantities of the population drink out of faucets or use a bathroom, and was siccing dogs on marchers, and bombing churches and lynching Black children? That Gaddafi?”

Needless to say I’m really popular at family reunions.

It’s just amazing to me, how few people in America, think. Not Black people, or White people, or Brown people, or Yellow people, but any people… think, beyond what the idiot box tells them.

Oh it is to be wept at, how all you victims of Rome, so gleefully are turned into victimizers.

Here’s the thing with me. You have to earn the moral high ground.

YOU HAVE TO EARN the moral high ground.

Be you a man, or a nation, you have to earn the moral high ground.

America is forever taking the moral high ground. And no country, in the history of this world, is less suited to walk that walk. America began as a terrorist nation, and America grew fat through fostering a level of inhumanity and terror, that no Iraq or Iran or Cuba or Korea or Russia or Libya, has ever come close to.

And the thing about America, is her present shows no sign of having repented of her past.

America has never stopped being a terrorist nation. It’s her one, last great product.

So yeah when the military industrial complex, pulls the strings for the 24hour propaganda show we call CNN or Fox, etc… I’m not really big, on goose stepping along.

I guess because I have a long memory, and I potentially can forgive, but I will never forget and I will never cheer you into a position to do it again. To anyone.

Now you, the tides of war, can come through me, or you can try to walk over me, but you’ll never reach your goal with me.

It’s the same reason I’ll never be a Christian as practiced in America. I have no particular issue with Christianity, I think the ideology is grand, however in practice especially in America it has been an abomination in the eyes of God.

That’s not a dig, and it’s not an insult, it is however a fact.

From the Witch trials on. The odious form of Slavery that took place in this nation, the most depraved the world has ever seen, happened not despite Christianity. It reached it’s peak of evil BECAUSE of how Christianity was practiced in this country.

Slavery, in the vile form practiced in the US flourished… because of Christianity.

That’s a hell of a thing for anyone to say, I know it… and I take no pleasure in the saying.

More hell still, because it’s the truest thing you’ll ever hear anybody tell you.

I have seen the torture devices. I have seen your abominations. I have seen ships with names like HOPE, and CHARITY, and GRACE (all we need is one named OPERATION FREEDOM), loaded down with tortured men, women, and children. I have seen the machinations of righteous men and women. Shielding their abominations under the name of Christ and god.

And I have seen one more thing, that we are our fathers even onto the 7th generation, and crimes not grappled with, not resolved… are repeated: there or there or there.

Christianity as practiced in this country, has more of Rome in it, than of Christ, and this country has the crucifixions to prove it. The cross itself, having nothing to do with a Christ, being a Roman symbol long before any such messianic birth or death, a roman symbol of power, and dominance, and torture. The devil going up and down, and to and fro.

How does a person wear a cross and not know that? Not think one minute, of one hour, of one day, of the millions upon millions who died screaming their guts out on that most sacred torture device of Rome… on the cross.

That cross.

Think about it, logically for a second. Who would carry around an idol, a symbol of a lynched man except the lyncher. Much the way lynchers in America would cut trophies from the bodies of their victims to wear around their neck.

Such… Christian people. Such, righteous people. God forbid you accuse anyone else in this world of terror.

So to, who would wear a symbol of a crucifixion around their neck, except the crucifier? For one second, think, actually think, about the dogma, the ritual that Christians do, that has nothing of Christianity in it… but everything of Rome, even onto the forsaking of the Sabbath.

I honestly don’t care what people believe.

But I do care that your choice of good or evil be informed. Whatever you choose to believe, make it an informed choice.

It’s not evil men that worry me.

It’s the masses that cheer them as they go marching by, too busy to make a choice not handed to them. The careless masses are the engine without which, the dreams of evil men… could not fly.

Try an examined choice.

I’ve done that, and I’ve found I can’t wear lynched or crucified men or the symbols of their suffering around my neck, I can’t bend my knee to bloody priests, and I can’t follow a nation of terror.

But I’m wacky that way, your examined choice may be different.

That’s been my news for today.

Cheery son of a gun, aren’t I?

But it’s past now, my mad fit of absinthe and peyote, it comes only rarely, when the spirit moves.

Perhaps even when the spirit needs,

For a man, supposedly shorn of faith, I do believe in fate.

I needed to speak.

Perhaps becomes someone needed to listen.

Who knows.

Wild is the world, and occasionally wonderful.

But the mad compulsion has left me, until the next blue moon.

Which is fitting, because I find the truth you don’t have to repeat as often as lies. If a lie, it will touch you not, without a constant barrage, and you will be unmoved by my mad ramblings.

But if the truth, it lived in you long before you read these words, and my words simply, like a stone waiting for a sculptor… revealed it.

If the truth you will know it. And if a lie you will know it.

And how you make of that news, something new…. well, who knows, the world is wild and wonderful… his miracles to perform. 🙂