Friday, January 27, 2012

Putting All Their Eggs in One Basket-Case

After last night's GOP Debate - Nightmare on Elm St, Part 753 - Newt's chances seem to be diminishing faster than the wind from a manatee's ass (actually, now that I think about it, Newt resembles a manatee's ass). What are the Teapers and the evangers gonna do now? I think in some ways this is the biggest question - not who's going to be the nominee.

The far right of the GOP doesn't want Mitt. That much is obvious. Hell, it was obvious back when they were ready to jettison him for Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain - talk about theatre of the absurd. They only settled on Newt when everyone else they'd ever consider had been bumped off. But Newt got them all hot and bothered during the debates because he went all sideshow geek on us and ripped apart a live chicken with his teeth, flinging flesh and feathers everywhere. That crowd loved it. That's of course the crowd that cheered when Rick Perry bragged how he executed a couple of hundred human beings. They cheered. These people are out for blood - and for a while there Newt was prepared to give it them. His debate performances were, for a while, show stoppers. The Bloodlust Crowd had finally found the Freddie Kruger of their dreams.

This is what they want - they keep saying it: they want someone who is going to get on the debate stage with Obama in the fall and rip him to shreds. The man who represents everything they despise - that black, liberal, Muslim, food-stamp loving black man over there - well, Newt was going to devour him like of those chickens.

So here's what I find interesting about this: forget the loons in the GOP and their Ten Years Hate. What's interesting is that debates have now become the main focus of presidential campaigns. To such a degree that these folks were going to nominate a guy simply because he had demonstrated the ability to attack viciously in a debate (forget for a moment that he was attacking, y'know, Wolf Blitzer). They would have bet the farm all on Newt's fangs showing in the debate.

Given his flaccid performances in the last two debates I wonder what they're thinking now.

Regardless, let's say Newt got the nomination. And let's say he remained true to their evisceration-longing hearts. Take a moment and try to picture Newt debating Obama. Imagine what that would be like. Frothing, spewing, attacking, gnashing, preening Newt versus - remember him in debates with Hillary and with McCain? - calm, reasonable, respectful, decent Obama.

I don't care whether you like the President or not. I do. Very much. But get your head out of your ass long enough to comprehend that most people don't hate him, don't want to attack him, don't want to rip him to shreds like an overplump Rhode Island Red. All the majority of America needs to see is that beatific calm and steady-handedness against the spluttering, spattering, feather-laden spewing of Newt the Merciless. You will be astonished by the groundswell of support the president gets the next day.

In other words, no one outside your inbred family wants blood, gullets and teabaggers' jizz staining their walls. The Civil War's over - you lost; the Vietnam war's over - we lost; the election of a liberal wasn't a tragedy. His re-election may just be the only sane path we have.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How the Fuck Did We Get Here?

I keep hearing people say how desperately we need a third party, something to offer a choice other than the Democrats and Republicans.

This country doesn't need a third party, it needs a second party. We already have a third party: it's called the GOP. Those three letters stand for Batshit Crazy Party.

The Republican Party is no longer the party of the country club set. A long time ago, 1980 to be exact, the country clubbers let the holy rollers in to the club so they could add votes for the flailing party. It made the holy rollers feel part of the club for a while, but the reality was that the party elders knew the holy rollers would be at church on Sunday, when the suits and their wives were having their martini's at the club. Thus, no need to associate with the riff-raff.

But on Monday-through-Saturday the riff-raff, aka the holy rollers plus the feeble-minded tea partiers and the John Birchers - YIKES! who let them back in? - became the majority of the GOP. And the suits are finally freaking out because they've lost control of their creation. If you've ever seen a Frankenstein movie you already know how this turns out.

But there's no going back. The GOP is now so far to the right that even a sharp left turn would barely help get them anywhere near the center. The party's only hope is to get the lunatics out - split the sucker in half (or thereabouts) and pray the surviving half isn't the half with the deranged brain.

Or maybe Frankenstein is the wrong analogy. Right now this party nominating process resembles nothing so much as a bad roadshow version of Marat/Sade. It's third parties that are supposed to be the domain of the lunatic fringe. Well, welcome to the GOP.

Meanwhile, for the first time in my life I'm thoroughly enjoying a
Republican primary season. What a glorious fiasco.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Leonard Kastle - The High Art of Low-Heeled Boys

Leonard Kastle died. He is best known for his only film, the truly original and excellent "The Honeymoon Killers" (1969). In some ways it's the ultimate cult classic - it crosses more boundaries in its fandom than most, from fans of low-budget gore to highbrow critics. The NY Times obit notes it was a favorite of Truffaut's. It's also notable as the first film Martin Scorsese was hired to direct and the first film Scorsese was fired from. Apparently he was taking too long on his camera set-ups for a movie with a skid row budget.

So Kastle, an opera composer who'd been hired to write the screenplay, ended up directing it. The result was, and remains, hovering between astonishing, disturbing and hideously beautiful.

Kastle never directed another film. He was, after all, a composer. His film career, never intended to materialize, ended right there, at least to some degree by choice, though it appears he wrote several unfilmed screenplays.

I was 11 years old when the film came out. I clearly remember seeing commercials for it on TV. As a kid I found myself repulsed and yet drawn to the grim, fleeting images in the promo. Aside from the subject matter (serial murders) and the weirdness of an obese woman being the love object and co-murderer, the black & white cinematography and the low-budget quality of what I saw gave it a sense of scary realism, of something that had been captured by a documentary film team. The actors and film crew who made this might as well have been real honeymoon killers. I knew it was just a movie with actors, but I can see now my eleven year old mind really wanted to be scared.

(I just witnessed this phenomenon again yesterday, May 21, 2011, the day the world was to come to an end. My son knew this was nonsense, yet he spent the whole day very nervous and was visibly relieved after the deadline passed).

I didn't see the film until many years later, probably around 1984 when it was revived at the Public Theatre in NYC. It was undeniably a powerhouse of a film on every level. At a time when you couldn't have paid me to see the then-current wave of slasher movies I was simultaneously jazzed and disturbed by the Kastle film; jazzed by its artfulness, disturbed by its ugliness. It lived up to every single sensation of fear and dread I'd felt seeing the TV promos in 1969. But it was better than I could ever have imagined.

That's all I've experienced of Kastle's work. I haven't heard any of his operas, nor any other scores he may have composed. A disciple of Gian Carlo Menotti, whose popular operas are, shall we say kindly, not among my favorites, I have doubts as to how much the aesthetic of "Honeymoon Killers" is apparent in his musical compositions. But I'd be glad to search them out. Perhaps there's something on Youtube, that great repository of every piece of film or music ever created.

One last thing, an aside, really. I found this part of Kastle's Times obit interesting:

From 1955 to 1959 he was the assistant musical director and conductor for NBC’s Opera Theater... His 15-minute opera for television, “The Swing,” about a young woman’s hopes and fears as her wedding approaches, was broadcast by NBC in 1956. With only two singers, one spoken part and one instrument —the piano, played by Mr. Kastle — it was the ultimate in operatic miniaturization. His three-act opera “Deseret,” about the Mormon leader Brigham Young, was broadcast on NBC in 1961.

NBC's Opera Theatre? Operas appearing regularly by a major TV network? A 15 minute composition commissioned by NBC? Think about that. There was a time when crappy TV shows, of which there were tons, gave way at least SOME of the time to classical music, opera, live theatre, etc. A small segment of the week's schedule perhaps, but a segment dedicated to something a bit higher up the food chain than, say, "Queen for a Day".

In other words, at a time when there were only 3 networks there was more intelligent programming, or at least programming meant to expose some of the audience, however small, to something different, something they maybe didn't know existed, or knew it existed but had never really seen or heard before, than there is now with hundreds of channels, all of them running the same tits and ass "reality" crap that can produce nothing but mental deficiency and, eventually, atrophy.

Maybe Kastle's "The Swing" was a lousy 15 minutes of TV. But now almost everything on TV is lousy. What's the diff? Couldn't the current crop of TV executives set aside an hour a week - okay, 15 minutes a week - to perform works by current composers, poets, show contemporary plays presented by regional theater companies (Tonight - the Walla Walla Players present "The Dag Hammarskjold Story")? I mean, shit, why not? The cost of a commission for these pansy composer/playwrite/poet yutzes has to be even cheaper than the cost of one episode of "So Want to Be a Working Ho' " or "Scratch Donald Trump's Ass". I guarantee you 20,000 bucks will buy you 15 minutes of new art.

Isn't that the reason these dickheads keep programming "America's Most Voluptuous"? Because it's cheap to make and reaps big profits? Well, I guarantee you we can find another Leonard Kastle or two to compose a 15 minute opera about a girl trying on her first training bra and discovering she needs a double-A. We'll call it "Tiny 'taters" - one girl, one bra, a mirror, two oboes and a glockenspiel. How fucking much do you think THAT costs, assholes?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

American Laughable

I've never been big on David Mamet. A couple of screenplays he co-wrote produced films I enjoyed (The Verdict, Wag the Dog). But his plays are, I think, wildly overrated and I really think the films he's directed are crap (especially Edmond, which I caught on TV one late night without any knowledge of who made it - what a vile piece of shit that thing is).

So it amused (bemused?) me no end to read that he's gone from being politically to the left (how much I'll never know) to a self-described conservative. From the (ick) Weekly Standard:

The conversion is complete: This is not a book by the same man who told Charlie Rose he didn’t want to impose his political views on anybody. At some moments—as when he blithely announces that the earth is cooling not warming, QED—you wonder whether maybe he isn’t in danger of exchanging one herd for another. He told me he doesn’t read political blogs or magazines. “I drive around and listen to the talk show guys,” he said. “Beck, Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved.” (

Yeah, the talk show guys. All the heavyweights. Fuckin' Truthy, Fuckin' Truthy, Fuckin' Truthy.

I'm not going to waste my time or yours on this guy since I've never taken him seriously. But here's what I find interesting about this phenomenon of people who shift from one wing to t'other.

How many times have you heard someone say something along the lines of, "I used to be a devout Marxist-Leninist, a communist zealot. I was a totally obsessed, crazy, left-wing extremist. But I saw the light and now I'm a devout far-right, Ayn Rand, Capitalist."

And of course Mr or Ms Zealot thinks s/he is saying "I used to be a leftist so I know what's wrong with the left, I KNOW, you can trust me because I FUCKING KNOW! I was wrong but now I'm right."

But of course, the truth is (fuckin' Truthy) that they've never really been left or right, they're just extremists. Like the devout Jewish atheist who turns Ultra-Orthodox, or the Protestant who converts to ultra-anti-birth-control-Catholicism, they just have to do everything in the extreme. They're not religious. They're just zealots. Politics, religion, radio-controlled airplanes, whatever they're into at the moment - CHEESE DOODLES - GIMME FIFTY FUCKING BAGS OF CHEESE DOODLES. NOW! - is an obsession,  an addiction, an excuse to overindulge and vomit, overindulge and vomit, overindulge and vomit...

This is not belief or a considered viewpoint. This is just gluttony and self-abuse. That's all.

So the next time someone tells you they were leftwingers once but they grew up and now they're listening to lunatics like Glenn Beck or dimwits like Medved and they see the True Path - just hand them fifty bags of Cheese Doodles, stand clear  and watch them go at it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Switch It On

This blog don't carry no gamblers, this blog
This blog don't carry no gamblers, this blog
This blog don't carry no gamblers,
No green tacos, no egg scramblers,
This blog don't carry no gamblers, this blog

When I was a teenager, dreary and depressed and more pretentious than I am right now, I wrote a dreadful poem. It went something like:

The electric opium machine,
I turn it on, it turns me on.
Was sick but it got well.

I can't recall the fucker now. Who remembers their own adolescent poems almost 30+ years later?

When I wrote those blazing lines it was the 1970s. I was writing about the all-powerful, mind-controlling television set, with its overwhelming SEVEN channels, most of which showed old movies or sitcom reruns for half of their broadcast time.  Yes, they stole our minds with only that feeble artillery.

Recently that poem came back to me. Amazingly I've lived long enough to see the world change two or three times over, yet I still have more than a decade before I'm eligible for social security.

So now, why add to the ruin of America, the destruction of the world as we knew it? Who wants to read another blog (that's sooo 2000s), especially one with no great insight and no clear purpose (hey why should I buck a trend?)?


I also wrote, as a lad, a story which I never finished. It was going to be a science fiction story about a man, an astronaut, trapped on a spaceship that has gone so far out into the solar system he has no hope of ever getting back to Earth and no possibility of ever being found. The ship has enough food for him to live for years. There is nothing he can do except write - keep a diary, write stories, poems, memories, whatever. The idea was to ask the question - I was asking myself, really - if you knew no one would ever see the fruits of your labor, writing, painting, composing - would you still do it? Would you still want to create something knowing that this communication would never be communicated to anyone ever?

All these years later I know the answer is, obviously, yes. Aside from the obvious what'the'hell'else'would'you'do'with'your'time factor, the truth is that the great pleasure of creating is in the act itself. Don't get me wrong - completion only comes with someone receiving the creation. But process of creating the work, however exasperating it can be, is basically a compulsion. Artists may create for any number of reasons - to get girls is usually high on the list. But as an artist, or creator, matures they get twitchy when they go too long without doing their work. It's not even a matter of passion - though passion can never be overrated. But really, it's a habit, a ritual, a craving, an addiction. A need.

So today I am answering my original question. I've created enough unreleased work - words and music mostly - without much hope of getting it back to Mother Earth to complete the communication circuit. And I continue to create/write/compose. What's the point?

The point is doing it. Just doing it.

So we begin our newest endeavor. Another exercise in futility. I'll write about whatever  ideas or notions or musings come to me on a, possibly, regular basis. Or not. The Electric Opium Machine has many channels. If boredom comes there will be another channel to switch to - or another online alternative.

And if all else fails to take hold, there's always porn.