“As a writer, fear/vulnerability, feelings of inadequacy/indecision r ever-present. Seems to me that’s when you know you’re doing it right.”–New York Times columnist Charles Blow, Tweeting.
Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Police State Scenes
- Stephen Fry: Boycott the Sochi Olympics
- Chris Lane Is Not Trayvon
- Waiters Get Screwed Again
- Malcolm X to the Rhythms of Keith Leblanc
- A Dissent on Woody Allen’s Latest
- The Bullshit Police
- Veltman and Berlioz
- 10 Rules For Better Penis Management
From Seattle’s The Stranger: “I was riding my bike past Fifth Avenue South and South Jackson Street at about 7:25 p.m. on July 30 when I saw several officers surrounding a young black man sitting on a planter box. The cops were speaking loudly at him. As a reporter, when I see a buzz of police activity, I almost always stop to see what’s going on. As the officers barked louder at the man, I took out my phone and snapped a photo. From 25 or so feet away, I couldn’t discern what was happening, but the man stood up to leave. That’s when one of the officers eyed me and yelled something like “He’s got a camera!” King County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Patrick “K.C.” Saulet rushed over and told me to leave or I’d be arrested. He claimed I was standing on transit station property, that the International District Station plaza belongs to King County Metro and I could not stand there. I backed up until I was unambiguously on the City of Seattle’s sidewalk, near the curb. But Sergeant Saulet insisted that I would be arrested unless I left the entire block. He pointed east and told me to cross the street. Now, let me pause for a second to say this: When the US Department of Justice alleged that the Seattle Police Department was routinely using excessive force, federal prosecutors stressed in their 2011 report that officers were escalating ordinary interactions into volatile, sometimes violent, situations. […] The officers did not accuse me of any offense other than standing there. And at this point, the man I’d initially seen the police questioning was long gone. Before I left the block, I asked for Saulet’s name—I didn’t know who he was until that point—and he pointed to his embroidered shirt breast. As I took a photo of it, he lifted his left hand, apparently in an attempt to block the shot, while his right hand rested by his pistol. What I didn’t know at the time is that Sergeant Saulet has a long history of abusive policing. In 2006, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that he had 12 sustained complaints against him and “one of the worst misconduct histories in the King County Sheriff’s Office.” […] Who at the scene was the commanding officer? I asked. […] Seattle police officer John Marion asked why I was asking. I’d just been threatened with arrest for standing on the sidewalk, I told him (even though he was standing close by when it happened), so I wanted to know who was in charge and whether Marion thought it was illegal for me to stand on the sidewalk. […] Officer Marion shot back: “I’m going to come into The Stranger and bother you while you’re at work.” He asked for my business card, apparently so he could get the address to come to my office (I didn’t give it to him), and, at least once more, he threatened to come harass me at work. His point, he said, was that I was “harassing” him at his work. In other words, when I asked matter-of-fact questions in a normal tone, this cop threatened to “bother” me at my job. If that’s not escalating a situation, I’m not sure what is. Before I rode off on my bike, I also took Officer Marion’s photo. That’s him on this page, giving the Come at me, bro gesture. […] Let me be the first say it: This is not a big case. Seattle police have punched, kicked, and killed people in recent years. What happened to me was comparatively minor. I have no injuries. But I’m writing about it—and filing complaints against the officers—because it’s minor. Officers went out of their way to threaten a civilian with arrest and workplace harassment for essentially no reason. Because they could. Because they didn’t like being watched.” The full story.
- Not So Fast Missy: How a Protester Exposed an Undercover Cop
- Yet Another Florida Brutality: Black, 60, Unarmed, and Shot 15 Times By Cops
- Police Drones Are Banned from Florida Skies Absent a Warrant or Other Exceptions
- Joe Arpaio’s Cops and Militia Dolts Almost Kill Each Other
Stephen Fry’s Open Letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, from Fry’s blog:
Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,
I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations inflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they “polluted” the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich. He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.
Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.
An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.
He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, “the banality of evil.” A stupid man, but like so many tyrants, one with an instinct of how to exploit a disaffected people by finding scapegoats. Putin may not be quite as oafish and stupid as Deputy Milonov but his instincts are the same. He may claim that the “values” of Russia are not the “values” of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).
I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.
- Russia’s Gay-Bashing, NBC’s Olympic Blinders
- Florida GOP Rallies Around Marriage Inequality as LGBT Community Mobilizes
- Florida’s New Gay Lawmakers: Pride For LGBT Community, Perspective in Tallahassee
- Don’t Cram Your Heterosexuality Down My Throat
From Salon: “The white conservative media believes it has its own Trayvon Martin in the case of Chris Lane, an Australian baseball player who was killed in Oklahoma, where he had been studying, by three black teenagers in an apparently random act of violence (note: there’s actually some question as to the race of one of the three teens, the driver, who faces lesser charges). Rush Limbaugh called it “Trayvon Martin in reverse, only worse.” The Drudge Report, where black-on-white crime always gets top billing, has been prominently featuring news about the case for several days. Former Tea Party congressman Allen West weighed in, tweeting, “3 black teens shoot white jogger. Who will POTUS identify w/this time?” […] As the right sees it, the president’s silence confirms the narrative shared by everyone from Glenn Beck to Allen West to Maine Gov. Paul LePage to Sean Hannity — that Obama is racist against white people, and that the media is, too, or at least duped into doing the bidding of allegedly racist black leaders like Sharpton, or something. It’s incredible that in 2013 we’re really arguing about this, but from Henry Louis Gates to Travyon Martin — when the conservative media made George Zimmerman the Real Victim of the supposed anti-white lynch mob — we should expect nothing else. And it’s equally striking, yet also not particularly surprising, that Fox and Limbaugh and the rest really don’t seem to comprehend why the Trayvon Martin case became a thing. […] Lane’s murder is an entirely different matter. It’s disgusting, but the police did their job. They arrested three suspects, and vowed to try to throw the book at them. That’s how it’s supposed to go. Murder is sadly quotidian in a gun-soaked America, and this is, sadly, another, if particularly senseless, one.” The full post.
- Demonstrating and Reporting Outrage Over Zimmerman’s Acquittal Isn’t Overkill. Shooting Trayvon Was.
- ‘The Struggle Continues’: Civil Rights Generation Shows Palm Coast How It’s Done in 100-Voice March
- Obama on Stand Your Ground and Zimmerman Aftermath: “Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me 35 Years Ago”
From the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando-based Darden Restaurants may drop automatic gratuities for tables of eight or more at its chains including Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse. Experts predict others will follow suit. An Internal Revenue Service ruling will treat automatic gratuities as wages. That could lead to higher payroll taxes for restaurants and make record-keeping more complicated. The change means customers will get to decide just how much to shell out for service instead of paying a flat amount of 15 to 20 percent. […] Automatic tipping “protects the server in a lot of ways, because a lot of time and energy goes into those parties,” said David Hayden, a Kansas City, Mo., waiter who has written a book on tipping and runs websites about the restaurant industry. […] For now, Darden has dropped 18-percent automatic tipping at about 100 restaurants. But it also has started suggesting tip amounts on receipts. Each bill spells out exact amounts for tips of 15, 18 and 20 percent. […] Earlier this year a customer sued several restaurants, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, for charging automatic gratuities for even small tables in New York City. Jeffers said that’s a common practice for eateries in Manhattan, where three Darden restaurants automatically charge gratuities for everyone because many tourists there don’t tip well. […] At Walt Disney World, 18 percent tips for parties of six or more at restaurants are written into the attraction’s union contract.” The full story.
- Unemployment Lines: Throngs Turn Up for 220 Jobs at Red Lobster and Olive Garden
- Panera Bread Rises Crisply in Palm Coast, With Promise of Second Location Within a Year
- The Waiters Today
From Hilobrow: ““No Sell Out” is a simple collage of LeBlanc’s complex, aggressive drum programming, rude but still funky keyboard stabs, and bits and pieces of Malcolm X speeches. Interestingly, one of the snippets LeBlanc chooses could be a comment on the record itself: “They take one little word out of what you say/Ignore all the rest/And then begin to magnify it all over the world/To make you look like what you actually aren’t.” And as the track begins to fade out, Malcolm is heard saying, “Brothers, sisters, friends/And I see a few enemies…” and there’s a loud, gunshot-like crash. It’s an ominous, somber ending to a track that exhibits an astonishing militancy, given the general tone of hip-hop at the time. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, this has never been done before,’ or anything like that — I was just trying to do something I thought was good,” LeBlanc told TheQuietus.com in 2010. “Then when I got press calling me from all over the world, all pissed off, I thought ‘OK, maybe this was a little bit cutting edge!’””
Francine Prose doesn’t buy the love lavished on Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” She writes in The New York Review: “I’ve always had a certain fondness for films about women breaking down, perhaps because madness has always seemed to me the road not taken. But none of the films I’ve admired—Nunnally Johnson’s The Three Faces of Eve (1957), John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), and most recently, Mike Leigh’s Another Year (2010)—have made me feel, as Blue Jasmine did, that the heroine is at least partly responsible and is getting what she deserves. Only the force of Blanchett’s acting lifts Jasmine above the range of the potshots that Allen takes at her, starting with the opening scenes of her over-sharing with a woman on the plane and bossing a San Francisco cabdriver like her personal chauffeur. I could never quite tell when Allen was mocking or pitying Jasmine for her imperiousness, her narcissism, her rich woman’s values, her remaining illusions of self-worth. He makes us want to see the deluded snob lower herself and take the job she’s been resisting, as the receptionist of a creepy, sexually-harassing dentist—a job in which Allen, like most of us, might suffer. And just in case any doubts remain about whether Jasmine knew about her husband’s crimes, a somewhat improbable plot twist gives her an active—but surely superfluous—role in their being ejected like rebel angels from their Upper East Side heaven. […] How many hours have I spent in the dark, trying to like the films of Woody Allen? Part of what’s so disappointing about Blue Jasmine is that I so admired Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I loved the Hitchcock-like suspense and rhythms of Match Point, the sunny pleasure that Vicky Cristina Barcelona took in a beautiful city and beautiful faces. The performances were thrilling. […] But thinking about Blue Jasmine reminded me of what I’d found disturbing about Allen’s earlier films: Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Stardust Memories (1980), and Celebrity (1998). The misanthropy and misogyny; the meanness masquerading as humor; the thick air of condescension; the sourness and crabbed resentment. The suspicion that the characters are acting out the director’s agenda, just as the actors, until lately, sometimes spoke in his rhythm, his voice. Another pleasure of Match Point was the relief (for the viewer, and, I would think, for Allen) occasioned by the fact that Allen had not only removed himself as a dramatic character but also as a dominant presence. […] Blue Jasmine made me feel much the same discomfort I experienced when I finally read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for over a year, a novel steeped in a foul, bitter stew of treachery, vengefulness, and scheming—a book that millions of Americans have been telling their friends to read, presumably for its suspense and all-too-foreseeable “surprises” as a dishonest marriage devolves into a plan to frame a spouse for murder. I prefer not to think that we live in a culture in which nastiness is so endemic that we can no longer recognize it. Unless in fact we do, and, like the ancient Romans at the Colosseum, we’re grateful for the distractions of socially sanctioned cruelty and the gladiatorial combat of the strong against the weak.” The full Prose.
Watch the trailer:
From the Daily Beast (posing as Newsweek): “TAM is organized by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a group devoted to a philosophy called skepticism: the debunking of psychics, mediums, pseudoscientists, faith-healers, homeopaths, and anyone else who makes claims that defy the known laws of science. Skepticism has a wide following—the Internet is littered with self-proclaimed skeptic blogs, podcasts, and forums—and JREF is widely acknowledged to be the movement’s hub. Over 1,000 people attended this year’s conference, which featured an array of panelists and speakers, from magician Penn Jillette to comedian Father Guido Sarducci to Steven Novella, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. (And yes, it was ironic that this militantly rational group decided to hold its annual meeting in a casino.) The activists of TAM see themselves as waging a broad, multifront battle to drag American culture, inch by inch, away from the nonscientific and the nonlogical. This turns out to be a surprisingly uphill struggle. Probably the majority of Americans believe in some degree of what JREF’s founder, James Randi, calls “woo-woo.” (“Please use woo-woo,” he instructs me. “I’m trying to get it into extensive use.”) In 2005, for instance, Gallup found that 73 percent of Americans subscribed to at least one paranormal belief. Television personalities like John Edward earn huge audiences by purporting to commune with the dead. Numerous Americans swear by homeopathy, ingest supplements with no proven medical benefit, or believe, against all available evidence, that genetically modified organisms might transform humans into tumor-covered golems. […] Randi, A.K.A. James “the Amazing” Randi, is the closest thing the movement—almost everyone I talked to called it “the movement”—has to a leader. Now an energetic 84 years old, his face swathed in a wild, white Charles Darwin beard and eyebrows crawling up his forehead like albino caterpillars, Randi was once one of America’s most recognizable illusionists and escape artists. But in the 1970s, his career took a more serious turn.” See the full story.
Watch James Randi question the Bible:
From the Language Chat Blog: “I was listening to the beginning of Hector Berlioz’s supernally beautiful song “Le spectre de la rose” when a mad thought occurred to me: Berlioz was the Veltman of music, and Veltman was the Berlioz of literature. (See this old post for a similarly crazed insight about Emily Dickinson and George Herriman.) Start with their dates: Berlioz 1803–1869, Veltman 1800–1870. Meaningless coincidence in and of itself, of course, but here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Berlioz’s work and its reception: “Between 1830 and 1840, Berlioz wrote many of his most popular and enduring works…. After the 1830s, Berlioz found it increasingly difficult to achieve recognition for his music in France.” The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to Veltman, and the dates of his most successful novels, Strannik (1831–32) and Koshchei the Immortal (1833), correspond quite closely to those of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (1830) and Harold en Italie (1834), still the most often played of his works (and there was a time when I wished never to hear Symphonie fantastique again). But all of that is trivia. Here’s the reason the comparison occurred to me: as W. J. Turner wrote in his pioneering Berlioz: The Man and His Work, “Berlioz never studied and could not play the pianoforte, so that from the beginning he thought in vocal and orchestral tone.” (Berlioz himself, in his wonderful memoirs, explained: “My father did not wish me to study the piano. Otherwise it is probable I should have become a redoubtable pianist like forty thousand others.”) This is why his orchestration is so brilliant and unique, and why it was so hard for critics of the day to understand his music. He simply was unlike everyone else. The same is true of Veltman—again, mutatis mutandis; he had no interest in Social Questions (the pianoforte of Russian literature), and a deep and abiding interest in all manner of ancient tribes, chronicles, and traditions and the obscure names and words that went along with them, which he scattered liberally throughout his works to the irritation and confusion of many readers and critics. And his manner of telling a story was sui generis: he would plunge into the middle of some odd situation, then jump to something else before you quite had your bearings, and you just had to try to hang on and trust that it would all come together eventually. If you gave him that trust, you were rewarded with the unique pleasures of works that weren’t nearly as difficult as they were cracked up to be, and the same is true of Berlioz. When I think of how long the great Les Troyens had to wait for a full performance, and of how its composer never got to hear it…”
Watch Janet Baker’s Berlioz (Nuits d’été: Le spectre de la rose):
From Suzanne Moore in The Guardian:
1) Do not involve your penis in sexting
2) Do not neglect your penis
3) Do not stick your penis into household objects
4) Do not use your penis to urinate all over the place in public
5) Do not ever put your penis into someone who does not want this
6) Do not name your penis
7) Do not derive pleasure from your penis with other men
8) Do not try to pierce your own penis
9) Do not try to make your penis bigger by buying Bazooka Pills or other rubbish offered online
10) Do not mistake your penis for your brain
- Weiner Syndrome: When Men Are Boors and Their Fans Excuse Them
- Milton Berle’s “Anaconda”
- The Painting You Will Not See in Hollingsworth Gallery’s ‘Monster of Bigotry’ Show, and Why