Dreams of My Other

August 28, 2012

click for source

I think that this image is what some people in Lubbock, TX have in their minds.   From the NYTimes today, edited for emphasis by me.

LUBBOCK, Tex. — …Ms. Rogers said she supported the idea of increasing the property tax to 34.6 cents per $100 valuation from 32.9 cents to finance the hiring of additional sheriff’s deputies — with one reservation.

It was that, she said, “it does not fund a paramilitary to create an insurrection and rebellion against the United States.”

Her comments might have sounded absurd at some other time, in some other place.

… A few days before, the county’s top elected official, County Judge Tom Head, made an appearance on a local television station to generate support for the tax increase. He said he was expecting civil unrest if President Obama is re-elected, and that the president would send United Nations forces into Lubbock, population 233,740, to stop any uprising.

“He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Mr. Head said on Fox 34 last week. “O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

… Mr. Head, a Republican who serves as the county’s emergency management director and presides over the commissioner’s court, made international headlines. He has not apologized, though he said that his statements were taken out of context and that he was using civil unrest only as an example of how he must prepare for worst-case scenarios.

To many in Lubbock, the notion of United Nations armored personnel carriers rolling down the brick-paved Buddy Holly Avenue, past the Greyhound bus station and the Disabled American Veterans thrift store, has been an outrage and an embarrassment.

Kenny Ketner, the chairman of the Lubbock County Democratic Party, has called for Mr. Head to resign, as did the local newspaper, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. … Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, publicly questioned Mr. Head’s “mental competency to hold elected office.” [Good point!]

Ms. Rogers, 74, said after the hearing that she took matters further, placing a phone call to the Secret Service. “There is an element in this city that is so anti-Obama that I think they have lost grip a little bit on reality,” she said.

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Le cercle rouge

October 25, 2011


Le cercle rouge (The Red Circle), is another Melville love song to American crime flicks (and American cars!)  It’s in color, but pretty bleak looking, appropriate for un film noir véritable.  It begins with a phony Buddhist text about the inevitability of men meeting in the red circle – I love that he made that up! – predestination and fate.  The moral heft is provided by a pipe smoking bewhiskered policeman who informs his subordinate that “tout les hommes sont cupables:” all men are guilty.  All.  They start out innocent, but it doesn’t last.  A nice dose of Christian original sin and French cynicism in the otherwise amoral tale.  Between the Eastern fate and the French sin, the red circle is pulled tightly around the men in the film.

I did say men, didn’t I?  I don’t think there is a woman with a speaking part in the story.  Women exist only as chorus girls in a tacky nightclub, scantily clad waitresses who pout a lot with their pretty faces, and one naked woman eavesdropping, and appearing in a photograph which the ‘hero’ contemptuously discards on his release from jail.

The story revolves around an ambitious heist in a deluxe jeweler’s showroom.  There’s a fancy alarm system that only a crack marksman can disarm.  The theft takes place in almost complete silence, and lasts for nearly one half-hour of the film, a nod to Rififi, no doubt, and just as in that movie, they all die.  There is a great sequence during the heist when the marksman, Yves Montand, after carefully setting up his tripod and rifle for the crucial shot at a miniscule target, suddenly grabs the gun off the stand, his comrades in crime are confused and surprised, but in one quick move, he raises the gun to make a sight and hits the target.  That’s good shooting!  Bart, from Gun Crazy, would approve.

The film begins with a prisoner, the ugly fellow below, being escorted on a train by a cop, handcuffed together.  The prisoner makes a brazen escape when the train slows down, and the cop is in hot water.  His superior asks him, “Did you think he wasn’t guilty?”  implying that he let his guard down because he was not tried and convicted yet.  Tout les hommes sont cupables.  The cop seems like a bit of a goof – we see him fussing over his cats – but he’s got what it takes in the end.

The escaped man meets Corey (Alain Delon) by chance, or fate as it were.  Delon’s sang froid is matched by the damp, icy landscapes through which they drive, shooting and looting.  The movie was a joy to watch, especially after a string of B-movie noir duds I’ve tried.

Yves Montand plays an ex-cop gone bad who happens to be suffering from the DTs when Corey taps him for this new job.  He declines his share of the loot:  he’s just happy to be off the sauce, with his ‘beasts’ locked away.  The images below are from his nightmare just before he gets the phone call to join the heist crew.  I like the iguanas, of course.


He makes a pretty quick, and not all that believable, recovery from the depths of alcoholism, finishing up with this sequence as he cooly lowers his pistol for a dead-on shot at his pursuers.  It doesn’t do him any good, of course.


Jerry Leiber, R.I.P.

August 23, 2011

Jerry Leiber, of the fabulous song writing duo, Leiber and Stoller, died yesterday.  They wrote a huge selection of tunes that became hits and have stayed in the popular imagination through endless covers and recycling in soundtracks, commercials, and ‘classic rock’ playlists.  The most famous was their “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog,”  made a huge hit by Elvis, in an interpretation they reportedly did not like, but originally created for the Blues singer, Big Momma Thornton.

How two Jewish guys, one from New York, one from Los Angeles, got together and learned, loved, and exported to the world the essence of American Black music is one of those mysteries and wonders of American cultural history.   They were funny guys, too.  In a TV documentary series about the writers of the legendary Brill Building, they quipped when asked about their socializing with African-Americans at a time when that was not at all a common thing for white people:

“We didn’t believe in interracial dating:  we only dated black girls.”


White makes right?

July 3, 2009

white-black

The recent court case reversing the lower court decision on a discrimination suit by New Haven firemen got me thinking.  The white firemen claim that they were unfairly denied promotions when the department changed the exam and readministered it, hoping to get more minority-group officers in place.  It seems to me that their case is based on the assumption that they have a right to be promoted, which was, I believe, the gist of Justice Ginzburg’s dissent.

Let’s see…a racially and ethnically diverse city, New Haven, decides that it should have a fire department that reflects its citizenry.  Okay.  They have an all-white department, so they start recruiting non-white candidates.  Okay.  They have no success, so they say, “We are not getting the result we want.  We have to change our recruiting policies.”  Nobody has a problem with that.

So they change, and the nature of the firefighting force changes.  But all the captains are white.  They feel they have a qualified pool of minority firemen, but none of them pass the test.  So they change the test.  The white firemen sue.

There seems to be an assumption current that the test was “dumbed down.”  I don’t think any evidence for that was presented.  The only other reason to challenge the action of the department is if you support the notion that the firemen who first passed the test have a right to be promoted.  Maybe there is a legal-contractual issue here, e.g., it is not allowed to refuse promotion once the test is passed, etc., but I don’t think so.  Why do they have any more of a right than any other group in the department?  Isn’t the policy of the department more important?

It reminds me of the suits brought by white students against universities when they fail to gain admission to a prestigious law or medical school.  The claim is that a qualified white student was refused to offer a seat to a non-white person.  The implication is that the minority student was not qualified, often simply because his or her SAT scores were lower.  (How the one-to-one association between who is refused and who is admitted is made is unclear to me!)  Here again, the assumption is that the white student has the right to a seat that has been stolen.  This is presumptuous.


What’s the good word?

March 10, 2009

no_religion

Broadcast the Good News!  America is getting with the program, reality!

All religious denominations are loosing ground.  American Religious Identification Survey, 2008.

Once again, let’s all try to imagine no religion!