Monday, June 29, 2015

THE COLOR OF BABY POOP

   Diane Keaton plays her cinematic roles with such precise imagination that it can be fun to argue that no one else could have embodied her characters in the early Woody Allen movies, or in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Crimes of the Heart, The Godfather, The Little Drummer Girl, or the majority of her other successes. It also holds true that on rare occasions some of us wince in pain when exposed to movies beneath her talent, movies that failed less because the roles were uninteresting and more because the premises of these films subvert the proud deviations her best works have celebrated.
   Baby Boom (1987) stinks on ice. 
  No reasonable person can blame the odor on the acting. Keaton, Sam Shepard, James Spader, Sam Wanamaker, the twins who play the baby, even the typically estimable Harold Ramis all work their lines with brilliance. The script itself--and its directorial delivery--smells up the theater in this movie. It accomplishes this formidable task by its fevered embracing of the Yuppie Aesthetic so omnipresent during the 1980s love affair with what some sociopath decided to call romantic comedies. 
  Keaton plays J.C. Wyatt, an executive in some corporation who puts in a one hundred hour work week, has scheduled sex sessions with her paramour that last one full minute, and certainly has no time for a baby of her own. When one gets handed to her (it doesn't really matter how this comes about), she resists the idea and eventually gives in (as we know she will because otherwise there's no movie and what are we all doing sitting together in the cinema?) and moves, as all yuppies do, to the country where she develops her own brand of baby food which takes off like the Yarnell Fire and sweeps across the nation because clearly Keaton's character is made of stronger stuff than you or (especially) me. 
   If the storyline sounds moderately uninspired (I'd call it immoral, but I've taken a twelve minute vow of restraint), you should check out the dialogue that was geared for yucks.


Doctor Jess Cooper
You know, you kind of remind me of some kind of bull terrier.


J.C. Wyatt
I'll bet you say that to all the girls.

And then there's:


J.C. Wyatt
I can't have a baby because I have a twelve-thirty lunch meeting!

   I know. Sad, isn't it? Perhaps the musical accompaniment will enhance the experience of being subjected to pre-programmed drivel? No chance. The songs were by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, the latter once described in writing as being so laid back it's a wonder she can stand up. 
   No, the entire enterprise (and that word is selected with serious intent) exists for no other reason than to reinforce the psychotic drive to be the best you can be by enlisting a supreme act of will and drive, one which deprives the actor of any auxiliary aspirations--doing what you do for the good of the company, the husband or boyfriend, the species, the child, the town--when there is no Godly reason to expect any person to forego an appreciation of the things in life that actually matter, things such as the company, boyfriend, species, child, town--things that might be valued if the actor/savior (after all, her name is J.C. for a reason) weren't so busy burning herself out to appreciate them. 
   Maybe that's one reason no one uses the word "yuppie" any more. It's certainly the main reason nobody rushes to Netflix or elsewhere looking up romantic comedies from the 1980s.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SPIDER FEAR

  "If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read 'President can't swim.'"
   --Lyndon Johnson


   Steven Spielberg served as the uncredited second unit director, the man responsible for shooting stunts, establishing shots, inserts and cutaways. Uncredited or not, his prints glow on Arachnophobia (1990), which is one of the sources for the expression "The Spielberg glow." In movies such as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this appeal to wholesome mischief is appropriate. In a movie about spiders--specifically bad spiders--the glow gets in the way. 
   The idea for the story is as old as horror movies themselves. Jeff Daniels plays a doctor who moves his family to the country to escape the pressures of city living only to find an insidious trail of monsters awaiting him, threatening the very sanctity he so desperately wants. Okay, so there's only so many plotlines in the world and as such things go, that one stinks less than most. 
   Dan Jacoby, Al Williams, and Wesley Strick came up with the story, which Pauline Kael referred to as resembling a Boy Scout remaking Jaws. That's a funny line, Pauline, and I've always wanted to work it into a review of my own and if you weren't already deceased, I'd be worried about lifting it in such a shameless manner. 
   But back to Spielberg, first-time director Frank Marshall ground bones with the Spiel Man on Back to the Future, Poltergeist, Raiders of the Lost Ark and other glowing balls of good clean fun that eschewed logic for brain drain. But influence does not equal exchange just as correlation fails to equal causation. For instance, in the aforementioned Jaws, the title character is the emotional focus of the film, the vortex around which the personal relationships in the story spin. In Arachnophobia, the monster is a transplanted tarantula that sets up a kingdom in Jeff Daniels' barn. Yet the monster does not dominate the attention of the audience. That honor goes to John Goodman, in the guise of the perfectly named Delbert McClintock, the town exterminator. We welcome his intrusions into the prefabricated anxiety we keep expecting to feel from the platoon of killer spiders. We want Goodman to argue with Daniels, to seduce Daniels' wife, to haul out the blowtorches and napalm the barn in order to save it--something, anything! As the only person in the movie who swings emotional content, we virtually yearn for Goodman to save the picture. But that would shift the glow from E.T. to Animal House, something the Spielberg folks--who are more terrified of chaos than any other major filmmakers--simply could never endure. So instead of Goodman doing what we can see he wants to do, we get impotent attempts at humor such as this:

Molly Jennings (the wife): Why is all the wood rotting?
Delbert: I'll tell you why. Bad wood.
Molly: So what do we do?
Delbert: Tear out bad wood. Put in good wood. 

Or. . .

Delbert: Would anyone object if I tore this floor out?
Molly: I would.
Delbert: False alarm then. Lead on.

  As a result, people filing out of the theater say things like, "That was cute" rather than saying "That thing scared me to death!" 
   I imagine Spielberg must occasionally feel akin to Lyndon Johnson. Here is a man who has created the cinematic equivalents of Medicare, The Voting Act and the Civil Rights Act and yet people just can't quite get over that darned Vietnam thing. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

ALL THE WAY FROM ALICE

   Any motion picture with the decency to begin with a song by Mott the Hoople leaps into the world with enough credibility to sustain damn near anything, including a script by Robert Getchell that has not necessarily aged all that well, a performance by Kris Kristofferson which (while being his overall best acting job) does not bode well for his thespian future, and some issues that get raised while often cancelling out one another. While I must admit that I am not one of those film critics who genuflects every time the name Martin Scorsese is mentioned, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1975) remains one of his best films, right up there with Taxi Driver and Goodfellas in the sense that as a member of the audience you believe you are right there in the thick of things, hurting and laughing and smacking your fists. 
   Ellen Burstyn plays Alice, a recently single mom who moves Arizona to start a new life with her young son. Alice is a singer and she plans to make it big in Monterey, California. She is also a realist, so she knows she will have to work some toilets and dives before getting discovered by the right talent scout. She is not a pessimist, however, and so she expects to at least get a shot at performing in divers and toilets. Instead she finds herself waiting tables at Mel and Ruby's Diner in Tucson. It is there that she meets Diane Ladd as her co-worker Flo, Vic Tayback as Mel, and Harvey Keitel as a snake in the grass. 
   Scorsese's contribution to the film's success lies in his willingness and ability to exploit useful realism while not getting bogged in pointless minutiae. So we find Alice and Flo sharing a laugh about Vera's boyfriend, Tommy the son belittling Kristofferson's love of "shit-kicking" music, and especially Jodie Foster's performance as a pre-teen seductress and shoplifter (and when will the retired Ms. Foster be recognized as one of the greatest actors of her generation?), any one of which episodes--much less all of them--so true to life that we struggle with the natural affinity between laughing and crying. 
   This movie recently played again on TMC's "Essentials" where hosts Robert Osborne and Sally Field repeatedly referred to it as Scorsese's first movie. It was no such thing. Discounting documentaries and shorts, there was still Who's That Knocking at My Door from 1967 with Harvey Keitel and Boxcar Bertha in 1972 with David Carradine, either one of which might be reasonably overlooked. But how could these two presumed experts not remember Mean Streets from 1973? Especially since that was the film that at long last put Robert De Niro on the map (another name intended to cause the audience to bow) and that most of its success was enhanced by the director's unauthorized use of Phil Spector's "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes. 
   Beats me. 
   Alice remains a great movie. Also starring Valerie Curtin as Vera and Alfred Lutter as Tommy.


HEED THEIR RISING VOICES

   Absence of Malice (1981).

   The truth of a given writing has not always been considered a legitimate defense in support of its publication. It was not until 1734, when John Peter Zinger published a satirical article about colonial governor William Cosby, that the suggestion of truth as a defense became relevant in defamation cases in what would soon become the United States of America. Defense attorney Andrew Hamilton convinced the jury that if a published statement can be proved true, then the charge of defamation cannot hold. Verdict for Zenger.
    Forward to 1960. The New York Times published an advertisement titled "Heed Their Rising Voices." The ad addressed what the writers construed as an attempt to intimidate newspaper publishers from reporting on Southern actions against participants in the civil rights movement. The ad further alleged that the arrest of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. for perjury in Alabama was part of a campaign to destroy King's efforts to integrate public facilities and encourage blacks to vote. L. B. Sullivan, the Montgomery city commissioner, filed a libel action against the newspaper and four black ministers who were listed as endorsers of the ad, claiming that the allegations against the Montgomery police defamed him personally. Under Alabama law, Sullivan did not have to prove that he had been harmed. A defense claiming that the ad was truthful was inapplicable since the ad contained minor factual errors (the ad stated that Montgomery had arrested King seven times, whereas he had been arrested only four times, for instance). Sullivan won a $500,000 judgment.
   The Times appealed to the United States Supreme Court. That court ruled in favor of the newspaper, stating "The First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity)."
   Thus was established the concept that even false statements are not libelous unless the person who claims he or she was defamed can prove that the writer or publisher was motivated by their dislike of the individual to do the proper checking to make sure the words correctly reflect reality.
   In director Sydney Pollack's movie Absence of Malice, Paul Newman plays Mike Gallagher, a Miami liquor wholesaler who may have some connection to organized crime. After all, he is in the liquor business in Miami. Megan Carter, played by Sally Field, is the reporter who gets fed a false story about Gallagher by the FBI. She publishes the false tale and Gallagher takes her pretty ass to court. 
   This could have been a moderately entertaining and even an important film. Newman does what he does best: he allows his boiling intensity to fester beneath the surface without exploding into the camera. Someone (maybe Stella Adler, I don't know for certain) said that the key to acting is to develop the ability to show the character thinking one way and behaving another while both elements are clear to the audience. Newman does this with considerable panache. 
   Sally Field is not given that opportunity, which is a shame because she has the ability (as anyone who has seen Norma Rae or Places in the Heart can attest). Here she is given the task of being age thirty-nine and that is all. As a result, the audience cannot help but wonder what kind of sadistic impulse gripped the director that he would allow Newman tremendous freedom and yet hold Field back. 


ABOUT HIP

   About Last Night. . . (1986)

   Oh, what a sequence of disgust! But that is what one might expect from former "Saturday Night Live" writer-actor Tim Kazurinsky, who along with wife Denise DeClue, wrote this mess. Kazurinsky also appeared in some of the Police Academy exercises in banality. Unless your goal in life is to watch Demi Moore and Rob Lowe simulate genital-locking, this attempt at making gamesmanship "hip" will only amuse you because of the profanity of Jim Belushi, whose presence is refreshing mainly because his existence is the only part of the process that does not feel contrived whether in retrospect or real time. 
  The basis for the movie, David Mamet's one-act play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, exploited simple-minded tensions between the two primary genders better than the movie because the play did not opt to blast the audience with the kind of audial tripe then-current on MTV, whereas the movie uses the dialogue as filler for the sonic vomit of Sheena Easton and Jermaine Jackson. On the other hand, if the mention of the names of these two plastic people lift your heart into the realms of perpetual titterhood, then please reverse all the bile and vituperation above and get yourself several copies post haste. 
   None of this should be misconstrued to imply that director and Chicago native Edward Zwick did a bad job accomplishing what he set out to do. About Last Night boasts a slickness that speaks to its self-confidence in exploiting the boring concept that men and women are often sexually attracted to one another without necessarily liking one another for any other reason, yet dressing up their desire in psychological excuses for not murdering one another, necrophilia being far too controversial for a movie that needs its audience to identify with its desperate craving for hipness. Zwick went on to direct Glory and Blood Diamond, each substantial improvements and better uses of his talents. 
  In 2014 some geniuses decided to remake the damned thing, this time moving the locale to Los Angeles and the race to African-American, both perceived by Sony Pictures as more hip than white Chicago. And hip is what this nonsense is all about.

Monday, June 22, 2015

PERMANENT SCARS

   The presumed controversy regarding the bearing of the Confederate flag--arising in no small part from the despicable assassinations of nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina--seizes my memory and directs it to the closing scene in Quentin Tarantino's movie Inglorious Basterds
  The idea of taking down the evil banner of the Confederacy appeals to many of us. Its presence in and around government suggests a legitimacy the losers of the U.S. Civil War do not deserve. The winners of wars get to write the history books and therefore technically the South--being slave-owning, treasonous murderers--possess no rights whatsoever, a fact made clear by the necessity of Reconstruction. To harbor the secessionists' most sacred symbol--much less to allow it to be waved with pride as a testimony to the alleged sacrifice of dead hooligans--for purposes of reminding present and future generations of the value of their history makes me ill in the most violent of manners. Imagine Angela Merkel announcing to the German Parliament that the heretofore forbidden swastika is now to be prominently displayed outside the Reichstag building so that ancestors of those German men and women who gave their lives in World War II can share in the history of Deutschland's war against the Allied Forces. Such a declaration might--oh, what's the word?--piss a lot of people off.  
   Such mental noodling took my thoughts by the hand and brought me back to Tarantino's masterpiece of a film. The storyline concerns a Jewish-American special forces soldier, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (played by Brad Pitt), who leads a mission to wipe out the highest ranking Nazis during the showing of a propaganda film. His plot is discovered by an SS colonel, one Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Eventually, the SS Colonel admits that he knows the Axis powers will lose the war and arranges a deal between the Allies and himself. In exchange for his release and freedom from prosecution, the SS Colonel agrees to give information to the good guys, thereby hastening the end of the war and, one presumes, saving lives on all sides. What happens next provides a neat parallel to what I would like to see happen with the Confederacy-loving Southerners. Let's look at the screenplay.

Aldo and Uitivich climb down from the truck. 
Col.Landa indicates for Herrman to remove the handcuffs from the two prisoners. He does. 
COL.LANDA 
Herrman, hand them your weapon. 

He does. Col.Landa hands over his LUGER, and his very cool looking SS DAGGER

COL.LANDA 
I am officially surrendering myself over to you, Lt.Raine. We are your prisoners. 

LT.ALDO 
Thank you very much Colonel. Uitivich, cuff the Colonel's hands behind his back. 

COL.LANDA 
Is that really necessary? 

Uitivich cuffs the Colonel's hands behind his back.

 LT.ALDO 
I'm a slave to appearances. 

Aldo takes the Luger and shoots Herrmann dead. The bound Col.Landa is appalled

COL.LANDA 
Are you mad? What have you done? I made a deal with your General for that man's life! 

LT. ALDO 
Yeah, they made that deal, but they don't give a fuck about him, they need you. 

COL.LANDA 
You'll be shot for this. 

LT.ALDO 
Naw I don't think so, more like I'll be chewed out. I've been chewed out before. You know, Uitvich and myself heard that deal you made with the Brass. End the war tonight? I'd make that deal. How bout you Uitivich, you make that deal? 

UITIVICH 
I'd make that deal. 

LT.ALDO 
I don't blame ya. Damn good deal. And that pretty little nest ya feathered for yourself. Well, if you're willing to barbecue the whole high command, I suppose that's worth certain considerations. Now I don't care about you gettin pensions, merit badges, ticker tape parades, who gives a damn, let's all go home. But I do have one question? When you go to your little place on Nantuckett Island, I image you gonna take off that handsome looking SS uniform of yours, ain't ya? 

For the first time in the movie, Col.Landa doesn't-respond

LT.ALDO 
That's what I thought. Now that... .I can't abide. How bout you Uitivich, can you abide it? 

UITIVICH 
Not one damn bit, sir. 

LT.ALDO 
I mean, if I had my way, you'd wear that goddamn uniform for the rest of your pecker suckin life. But I'm aware that's ain't practical. I mean at some point ya gotta hafta take it off. 

He opens Landa's SS dagger and holds the blade in front of Hans face

LT.ALDO 
So I'm gonna give you a little somethin you can't take off. 

CUT TO CLOSE UP OF COL.LANDA The Dagger has just completed carving a swastika deep into his forehead

COL.LANDA'S POV: On the ground, looking up at Aldo, bloody knife in hand, who straddles him.. And Uitivich, who's next to him. The two Basterds admire Aldo's handiwork. 

LT.ALDO 
You know somethin Uitivich, I think this just might be my masterpiece.


   This is my proposal to the Confederacy-loving South. Those of you who love your heritage and history and pseudo nobility, those of you Daughters of the Confederacy twats who think it must have been sexy to stand on your plantation porches watching the young black men sweating shirtless in the fields, those of you who yearn for the days of the bullwhip and the burning crosses: it is time for you to wear your hatred and ignorance with the pride you claim you've earned. So after we burn down your fucking stars and bars, we'll be on our way to your bedrooms come about midnight and we won't bother knocking because what's the sense in waking you redneck peckerwoods up, what with all that hard work of hating and killing you all have to do every goddamned day, right? Yeah, we'll just creep in through the window, tie you down on your beds with your own bullwhips and carve a highly detailed Confederate battle motif right into your foreheads so that everybody you meet will know you for the rancid puke-sucking neo-Nazi fucks that you are. Oh, the physical pain will subside after a few weeks. But the emotional satisfaction you will get from our procedure will be worth every drop of blood you Gestapo-loving morons shed from yourselves. 
   Now of course none of us (us in this case referring to the Good Guys) will actually do any of that, most likely. Oh, we might burn down your idiot flags, but your Eva Braun governor will probably make that unnecessary. But just to keep everybody in the process nice and honest, we'll keep this idea of mine percolating just in case you sadistic monsters decide to shoot up any more of our churches.
   That's right. I said our churches. You rat fuckers don't have any of your own. Even though we're talking about the whole of the South, I'm reminded of a verse from Phil Ochs' song, "Here's to the State of Mississippi."

Here's to the churches of Mississippi
Where the cross once made of silver now is cake with rust
And the Sunday morning sermons pander to their lust
As the fallen face of Jesus is choking in the dust
And Heaven only knows in which God they can trust.

Those are your churches, white southern man. Our churches do not lack nobility, humility, or humanity. What they do lack--thank God--is murdering moron monsters who cringe at the first ray of sunlight, who shrivel at the whisper of kindness, who faint dead away at any type of purity. So go back to your heathen churches, take your assault weapons with you, blow one another away and leave the rest of us alone. Or you may just wake up with a set of permanent scars. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

PROTECTING AMERICA FROM ITSELF - A HEALTH CRISIS by Lisa Ann Goodrich Terzo

   I am sharing this after listening to the arraignment proceedings of Dylann Roof and the tearful pleas from the family members of the Charleston murder victims to God to please forgive the man who took their loved ones.
   I wonder if the crime itself would have even taken place if the shooter hadn't had access to a gun in the first place. The gun was given to him by his father and had been taken away by a friend who didn't believe Dylann should have it one night because he was intoxicated. Then just as quickly, it was returned to him the following morning. Later that same day, Dylann used that gun to kill the nine members of a prayer group who'd welcomed him into their circle. He even thought twice about even committing the crime because the church members were so kind to him.
  But, well, he'd driven all that way to Charleston and he had a gun with him, so...


   Egg prices soar as the nation panics over the outbreak of the Bird Flu. Communities and health authorities understandably spring into action over ebola threats or any other communicable disease outbreak. Our country strongly believes that no life should be lost to a disease or health crisis if prevention is possible. It would be unthinkable to believe or act any other way.

   However, preventing death caused by our own nation and people is apparently not so urgent. Read on.

  160 mass shootings took place between 2000 and 2013 resulting in over 486 deaths and 557 severe injuries. The government vowed to study the incidents to provide more transparency for more intensive training and prevention. Today June 18th, 2015 we are discussing yet another mass shooting. Nine killed. In a church.

  How many more studies need to be conducted? Is the "right to bear arms" really a relevant right at this point? Does that right hold more water than the right to worship in a church, attend a school, go shopping at a mall, or see a movie?

  Guns are not outlawed in other developed countries with much lower murder statistics than our country. Why is that? No one knows. I spent the evening reading study after study and not one single graph, map, or report could say why. I know why. America is simply not mature enough.

  Yep. America is too young. Just like 15 year-olds are too young to drive, and 18 year-olds are too young to drink, and you have to be 17 to see an R rated movie, America is not old enough to handle guns. So, the new rule, is citizens of a county younger than 300 years old don't get to carry guns. Period.

  Yeah. I can already hear you NRA babies rattling your chains and getting ready to tell me off. But, too bad. You're going after the wrong gal here. In this case, you need to take this up with the assholes that ruined it for the rest of you. Just like in school, when one kid acted up and the whole class had to stay after school. You gun fans let the wrong people play with your toys and now it's time for you all to stop playing with them.

  Now drink your milk and go to bed.
  
  -lat 61615

Friday, June 5, 2015

FOR OUR NEXT TRICK

  Now that we have one thousand of these pieces secured beneath the foot locker resting on the saturated sand of the red ocean floor, let us gaze, shall we, into the lens of our crystal Blackberries to determine the thrills and spills of our next spine-tingling adventures together in that aquatic, cavernous land we like to call Philroville. 
   Is it movies you favor, youngsters? Aye, that's good because the long-suffering roommate and I will be watching vastly more than our fair share of those--upon that you can count as fact. Indeed, twas this very day that she bought me a book what was called something to the effect of 1001 Movies You Better See Or Else We'll Jihad Your Sister's Milkcow For You, Ya Bastard! The title put me off a bit, at first, but soon enough I grooved to the implied irony and sized up that the people who compiled this tome thought long and hard about their choices for inclusion. So please avoid being surprised if in the days ahead you find us slipping back into celebrations of the solipsistic joys of movies from the golden age (1905 to the present). 
   Likewise music is making a comeback and in a big way, too. How long have you been living without playing Siren by Roxy Music and what precisely do you plan to do about it? Listen, I understand: you want to stay away from Art Rock and all the pomposities implied by groups such as Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP, and their progeny's progeny's proteges. Forty odd years later most of it remains the most puerile pap ever pasted onto petroleum byproducts. But Roxy Music knew what it was doing and with Siren they made an actual rock and roll record that was big enough to contain all their overambitious genius potential while still communicating in an entertaining way. Hey, there will even be ample time allotted for you to mock Yours Truly for his admission here that until this very evening he did not realize that the woman on the cover of the Siren album was Jerry Hall and in fact was more than surprised to discover that the creature was even a human life form when what she more resembled than anything was a distracting mannequin intended to take the listener's mind off the intoxicating sounds in and on the recording's grooves. "Sentimental Fool" may be the best thing the band ever recorded, beginning with ambiance that sounds appropriate to Odysseus, then flitting soon enough into a beautiful Andy Mackay saxophone solo and some crusty Phil Manzanera guitar buzz, both of which simultaneously push and pull at Bryan Ferry's vocal synthesis of Dylan and Sinatra. So you can look forward to hearing more about that.
   We're going to read a lot more books in the near future. Back in college my friend Rick Wilson used to tease me by saying that English majors never read books; they only re-read books. I have to plead guilty to that. I've been re-reading the same hundred books now for decades, along with new items, too. But the life-changing books for any individual person are often limited to maybe fifteen to twenty books without which the reader feels somehow inadequate. In any case, I've dug up some from those very same college years, most of them with sophomoric titles such as Limits of Legitimacy, Conservative Uses of Liberal Reform, Conflict Theory and The Sociological Imagination. And yes I will be re-reading these musty dusty books. However, the ones getting talked or written about here will be other books, books by people such as Harper Lee, Hannah Arendt, Philip Roth, Paul Nelson, Pauline Kael, Nick Kent, Nick Tosches, Harlan Ellison, and the usual suspects, books which my more erudite friends pronounce with a trill as lititititeratutututure, dontcha know? 
   We shall also do our utmost to complete our stroll through the remaining states so that you do not feel abandoned in Connecticut. 
   Finally, with the recent discovery that many folks in our fair country have turned their backs on the idea of a Higher Power, this feels the right time to begin shunning spirituality and to return full bore back to good old religion, at least in the agnostic sense of the word. For those of you who may feel you have never encountered a more annoyingly pompous pack of rat tweezers than the local fundamentalist child-diddler at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, I commend to your attention the local heathen atheist whose smugness puts any ecumentalistist to shame. Remember how dense Beaver Cleaver was on TV in the fifties? Well, guess what, Pine Wood, he was just elected Mayor of your city and Eddie Haskell is his Chief Lieutenant. In the words of a once popular song, "They made you a moron/A potential H-Bomb." Correct. Rejecting religion is just as fat and lazy as mindlessly embracing it is simply because that's what daddy did. Turning your back on the idea of God means you've been eating too many McDonald's Toad Burgers, drinking too many bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade, watching far too many episodes of "The Duggars Meet the Prophylactic Queens of West Hollywood," and listening to far too many subliminal audio files from the grizzled dead belly of E. Howard Hunt. Make your own decisions and please don't bleed my ears by arguing that you are entitled to your opinion because what you are entitled to is an informed opinion and if your mind is shut then I do not see how you get your information.
     So don't be surprised if we irritate people with that type of digression.
   Oh, I should mention, just out of respect: I quit smoking--again. Today is what I like to call Day Three. I'm nervous, edgy, more intolerant of meshuga behavior than usual, and remain only instants from stripping off my clothes and swinging in the nearest banana tree while scratching myself with great vigor. 
   You have been warned.
   Well, hey, see you all next time. It'll be fun for one and all.
Jerry Hall, Bryan Ferry

   

Monday, June 1, 2015

CONNECT I CUT


   At a time when a reasonable person may be led to believe that the only east coast states are New York and New Jersey, it is our pleasure on this, the publication of the 1,000th article in Philropost, to postulate the notion that Connecticut, to all appearances, holds title to East Coast Progressive Paradise. More than a few reasons encourage this pronouncement, not the least of those being Governor Dannel Malloy (D.) 
  Who? Why, Dan Malloy! He served as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn before entering politics and his annual salary is $150,000. What more do we need to know?
   Quite a bit more, as it happens.
   Malloy won his first term as Governor in 2010 by less than 6,500 votes. He won again in 2014, defeating Thomas Foley a second time. 
   In exchange for union concessions, Malloy addressed his state's budget deficit by raising the state income tax, the gas tax, the sales tax, and the estate tax. Malloy decriminalized marijuana possession so that a first offense carries a fine of $150, as long as you don't sell the stuff to minors. The Governor signed the Transgender Rights Bill in 2011. He allowed the Service Employees International Union to unionize daycare workers. Thanks to the Governor, personal care attendants are now protected under collective bargaining agreements. In 2012 Malloy abolished capital punishment in Connecticut--unfortunately, this was not retroactive. At a time when some states are claiming they want balanced budgets and set out to get this on the backs of children, Malloy increased funding for early childhood education and impoverished school districts. Also in 2012 Malloy expanded voting rights by authorizing same-day voter registration. Following the Sandy Hook shootings, the Governor signed into law gun control rules that require background checks, prevent magazine capacities of more than ten rounds, and which add more than one hundred types of guns to the classification "assault weapons." In light of Indiana's religious tyranny law, Malloy banned state-sponsored travel to that state (He referred to Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a bigot on "Morning Joe.") Oh, and you can now buy alcohol on Sunday in Connecticut. 
   As Malloy told the Daily Beast following his 2014 victory: 
Tom Foley wanted it put out that there we raised taxes. And he talked about it month after month after month after month. But once people started to pay attention, I pointed out what we did with the money, which was lower the crime rate, increase graduation rates, invest in infrastructure, create a Housing Department, create an Energy Department, create a Department of Aging. We did all of these things. It was the right policy, and ultimately people came around.

    Now I can hear the shouting all the way up into my garret room: "I'll bet the cost of living in that left wing state would curl your hair, huh, boy?"
  To which I reply: My hair's already curly and please don't call me Shirley.
   Five states and Washington D.C. cost more to inhabit. But if you want to live in Hawaii, Alaska, New York, New Jersey, or California, who am I to stop you? 
   Some good people come from Connecticut: Richard Belzer, Ernest Borgnine, Art Carney, Michael J. Fox, Lillian Hellman, Denis Leary, Christopher Lloyd, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Don Pardo, Ira Levin, Arthur Miller, and Philip Roth. Of course, the state has had its share of moral degenerates, including Ann Coulter, Don Imus, Dick Morris and Laura Ingraham. The Carpenters and Michael Bolton were from Connecticut, but so was Leonard Bernstein and Ronnie Spector. 
   The worst thing one can say about Connecticut is that it may be one of the homes of The Melon Heads, those small humanoids with bulbous noggins who arise from the outskirts of civilization to attack unsuspecting blue-haired women as well as small children who are usually on guard but who fall prey all the same. The best advice I've heard to prevent attacks from these inbreeding miscreants is to stay away from Dracula Drive. 
   All that said, thank you one and all for your support over the last few years as we have moved inexorably toward this, issue 1,000. With a bit of luck, we will live to write another day, or at least another night.