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Friday, August 28, 2015

Movie Review: Human Capital (Italian) … The Culling of Democracy …

Amici:

Human Capital … a fine eye-talian flick that offers several perspectives of a tragic hit and run. Is it big money vs. the little guy, greed knowing no bounds, love seeking to conquer all, the despair of a privileged life … or something else?  Hedge funds abound. I enjoyed this one thoroughly.
 


 
The Culling of Democracy … America has reached a point in history where it can no longer lay claim to being a democracy. The election process itself, aside from Citizens United and the legal bribery it enhances, has devolved into the mire of two-party stasis; either you’re with one of the two major parties or you’re outside the loop.
 
 
For those of us seeking another option, whether it’s an alternate party or alternative candidate (minus party affiliation), we’re left with a single option: find ourselves a billionaire.
 
 
Trump is proving it daily over on the GOP end of the very short spectrum that exists between both parties. The establishment GOP wants him to pledge not to run as a third party candidate because it would destroy their chance at the White House. He’s built a coalition of support from disgruntled whites over the loss of their country’s greatness, or so they believe. Trump assures them with “trust me” and “believe me” and rhetorical hyperbole so grandiose, one would think he’s the publicist and not the candidate. He's both. Trump declares he’ll be “the greatest jobs president in the history of America” and that he’ll be “the greatest president for women’s health issues.” Did you know he also reads the Bible?
 
Whether he’s insulting Mexicans or Chinese, Trump insists that “everybody loves” him.
 
 
 
 
For the GOP establishment, it’s quite the conundrum; to Trump or not to Trump. The several other presidential hopefuls who’ve been given the publicity hook by a corporate controlled media maintaining focus on all things The Donald are fading fast. Outside of the non-political GOP candidates, and except for Jeb Bush, it appears as though the field will be cleared before long. Unless, of course, The Donald pushes the envelope too far and the GOP establishment can no longer make believe they can tolerate him.
 
Personally, I don’t see Trump staying in for the long haul because it has to be as boring to perform the same skit nightly as it is to listen to it. If he can make it to the first few primaries and win them, it’ll be interesting to see what happens afterwards.
 
 
Over on the Democratic side of the very short distance between the two parties, the DNC is petrified of a democratic-socialist winning the nomination. They have and will continue to do everything in their power to make sure Bernie is just another liberal bump in Hillary’s coronation. The reason is simple: The DNC is as dependent on corporate coin as the GOP is dependent on 1%’er coin. If Bernie wins and refuses “big money” … what then?
 
Yet, while the GOP is forced to kowtow to a megalomaniac, the DNC has a candidate seriously wounded from a self-inflicted scandal. Should she attain her coronation, there’s a good chance Hillary will lose to the GOP finalist because independents don't seem anxious to trust her. Some in the DNC are already looking for another Democrat (not the one surging in the polls against Hillary) as the emergency replacement should Hillary’s deleted emails suddenly surface.
 
The closed primary system in several states is poison for independents who want to see Bernie Sanders in the White House. In New Jersey I can’t even vote for Bernie without pledging my primary electoral allegiance to the Democratic Party. I’ve been at war with their feckless support of progressive causes since Slick Willy’s second term (when he went all GOP on the country, repealed Glass-Steagall and passed NAFTA).
 
To the Democratic Party I say: no way.  Bernie loses my vote (and I lose him) because of a system that is so corrupt, it is appalling we even consider America a democracy anymore.
 
So, I’ll have to sit back and watch the more than likely inevitable crushing of the left once again by a Democratic Party that has consistently pledged its allegiance to corporate America and Wall Street. And of course I'll be expected to vote the lesser of two evils.
 
I don’t think so …
 
So, my choice is to vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party (assuming she wins the nomination) and/or return the knife-in-the-back favor to the DNC and vote for the Republican nominee (whichever lunatic that might be). Frankly, I kind of like the idea of returning the favor, but I’ll only do it if the polls claim it’ll be close in New Jersey. Why, yous ask, would a progressive vote against his or her own interests?
 
Well, progressives like myself don’t see much of a difference between the two parties at all … and since the DNC is ignoring what I believe are the policies that are dear to me yet again, why not play hardball? It’s not like it's been Republicans who championed the free trade agreements that ushered manufacturing and union jobs out of America. Nor was it a Republican who repealed Glass-Steagall.
 
That was Clinton, a Democrat, who repealed Glass-Steagall and enacted NAFTA. Obama, another Democrat, gets credit for TPP legislation that will further harm working Americans. And since Hillary’s biggest campaign donors come from corporations and Wall Street, well … lesser of two evils? Really?
 
But Knucks, yous say, what about the POTUS?  Hmmm, it was a GOP majority appointed court that not only approved the ACA, it went along with marriage equality.
 
And does anyone really trust Hillary Clinton to appoint a judge who proclaims they’ll help to overturn Citizens United?
 
I’m tired now … I’m gonna watch some hockey playoff reruns again.
 

Go Bolts!
 
—Knucks
 
If you haven’t seen this movie, you should … Gandolfini’s last … Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts were brilliant … everybody was brilliant. The Drop ... all writing credit to Mr. Lehane.
 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Junkie Love … Pre-Ordered: In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town … SNHU MFA news ...

Amici:
Junkie Love, Joe Clifford, is another of the must reads for anyone curious and/or naïve about the effects of drugs (to include crack, cocaine, OxyContin and the star of the show, heroin). I remain as naïve as they come regarding drugs. This story is a real one about the life of a much celebrated writers these days, a man who was once a certified heroin addict (the kind that used a needle). Here’s one of many passages I found to be a great message for those thinking drugs are cool.
 
You are not William Burroughs, and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if Kurt Cobain was slumped over in an alleyway in Seattle the day Bleach came out. There is no junkie chic. This is not SoHo, and you are not Sid Vicious. You are not a drugstore cowboy, and you are not spotting trains. You are not part of anything--no underground sect, no counter-culture movement, no music scene, nothing. You have just been released from jail and are walking down Mission Street, alternating between taking a hit off a cigarette and puking, looking for coins on the ground so you can catch a bus as you shit yourself.
 
This is the author’s story. The revelations are what you might expect, except Clifford removes the wrappings and presents a raw insight daring readers to digest the realities of a drug life. Readers used to a more refined, less graphic narrative beware. The author doesn’t pull punches. He also persecutes himself in no self-serving way. He describes himself as a ten-year fuck-up, doing what drug addicts do: stealing from whomever they could steal from in order to maintain their junkie health. It is an exceptionally well-written tale that exhibits the kind of debauchery I suspect the Marquis de Sade his own bad self would cringe from reading.
 
I tried to read Williams S Burroughs Naked Lunch too many times without getting very far. Eventually I tossed the thing aside and said, “Fuck this shit. Life is too short.”
 
I couldn’t put Junkie Love down. FACT.
 
There’s a movie I’ve always thought should be part of every high school syllabus--American History X. Junkie Love is a book I’d add to the list of every high school syllabus.
 
Listen to me: It’s a hell of a read.
 

Pre-ordered … In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town, by Richard Adams Carey.
 
Rick was my third semester mentor in the SNHU MFA program. A great guy, the ultimate humanitarian, and a great writer, Rick is also a magnificent teacher. He's also a devoted Moonachie Blue fan who still revels in the fact that Eli owns Giselle’s husband (a.k.a. Shady Tom Brady).  I heard some of this incredible story when Rick read for us in the program. It is compelling and heartbreaking.
 
 
 
 
I just did … Hello Charles Stella, Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered "In the Evil Day: Violence...".  We’ll send a confirmation when your item ships.
 
SNHU MFA News … Captain Merle Drown donated blood at a RedSox game … Check out Merle’s author’s page here: Merle is a terrific author (reviewed here several times) as well as a terrific editor.
When James Morrow, a social worker, first meets Kevin Flynn, he suspects the teen is being abused. To learn more about Kevin’s home life, he gets to know the boy’s father, Tucker, who’s a lobsterman. James is able to put his suspicions to rest, and the two families begin to form a friendship.
 
When a kid at the local recreation center dies of an overdose, Detective Maya Morrow adds the case to the long list related to the drug problem plaguing the small New Hampshire coastal town of Newborough. But her investigation gets her much too close to the dangerous players.
 
Both the Morrows and the Flynns are holding dark secrets, and when their lives collide, tragedy is inevitable.
 
 

 
Hey, take a look-see … like Bernie, I don’t take coin to promote … this comes from the heart, amici. I recognize so many fellow-writers in this promo (students and faculty) … Cindinator!  Lil’ Gronk! (she’s a recently married doll who still owes me a dance!) Mitch Wieland (who has a drummer son featured down below--a 17-year old me and the Principessa saw play in Asbury Park a year or so ago--he’s terrific). Bestseller’s Leslie Jamison and Wiley Cash are in that video … so is the desert father, Craig Childs, Rick Carey, Diane Les Bequets (Lil Vince) … forgetaboutit … like Craig says toward the end: “I think people imagine writing and they don’t actually do it. Or they save it to some other time.”
 
Amici ... just do it!
 
—Knucks
 
Mitch’s son’s band interviewed at a Portland Radio station … check them out!

Friday, August 7, 2015

David Payne: Barefoot to Avalon … Pratima Cranse (SNHU MFA) Kirkus Starred Review … the great debate … Happy Birthday, Principessa!

Amici:
Barefoot to Avalon, by David Payne … A family with a history of mental illness and suicide that rivals, if not exceeds, the Hemingway family. The issues lurk in the shadows of two brothers struggling to find their place, their worth, their selves. The themes repeat at just the right intervals to keep the reader focused on the trial the author gives himself.
 
At age 17, the younger brother suffers his first breakdown, and nobody is sure what the cause might have been. A bad day? A sudden glitch in a system? Bad weed? The breakdown doesn’t occur again for a few of years, enough years to almost forget it ever happened, but then it happens again. A few years after that, it returns … and it doesn’t go away.
 
Payne puts himself on trial in a brutally honest attempt to discover what might have happened. He delves into his and his brother’s past, including the day he first learned he’d have a sibling … at age 3, the author put a toy gun to his mother’s stomach … to rid himself of the competition? It’s one of the themes that haunts the author and ultimately forces him to put down on paper his difficult pursuit of self-discovery.
 
I first learned of author David Payne after anxiously watching Book TV a few months after my first crime novel (Eddie’s World) was sold. At 44, I was a new kid to the world of publishing and Book TV was featuring Elmore Leonard. David Payne was another of the authors on the panel. He discussed how one of his novels was rejected and he was expected to return the advance. I was going through a similar situation, although my advance was miniscule by comparison. For me, it had everything to do with a desire to be published. For Payne, an orphaned book involved substantial dollars—his income.
 
I thought: Hey, I should read this guy.
 
I don’t make very many great decisions, but that sure was one. I locked onto Payne’s works and read them in total and absolute awe. He’s a writer’s writer, someone so skilled and adept at his craft, there’s no way to walk away without being inspired.
 
So I read them, one after another: Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street, Early from the Dance, Ruin Creek, Gravesend Light, and then Back to Wando Passo. They were all brilliant.
 
And then there was a break. I remember writing him directly asking if he was working on anything new, but he wrote back that he was going through some tough times. Occasionally I’d look up his amazon page, his website, etc., and there was no news about a work in progress or a new book launch. A few weeks ago, the good news appeared and I jumped on his new work as soon as I could.
 
Barefoot to Avalon is a masterful memoir that deals with the tragic loss of his younger brother, George A, as well as self-discovery.  From his webpage: In 2000, while moving his household from Vermont to North Carolina, author David Payne watched from his rearview mirror as his younger brother, George A., driving behind him in a two-man convoy of rental trucks, lost control of his vehicle, fishtailed and flipped over in the road. David’s life hit a downward spiral. From a cocktail hour indulgence, his drinking became a full-blown addiction. His career entered a standstill. His marriage disintegrated. He found himself haunted not only by George A.’s death, but also by his brother’s manic depression, a condition that overlaid a dark family history of mental illness, alcoholism and suicide, an inherited past that now threatened David’s and his children’s futures. The only way out, he found, was to write about his brother.
 
Barefoot to Avalon is Payne’s earnest and unflinching account of George A. and their boyhood footrace that lasted long into their adulthood, defining their relationship and their lives. As universal as it is intimate, this is an exceptional memoir of brotherhood, of sibling rivalries and sibling love, and of the torments a family can hold silent and carry across generations. Barefoot to Avalon is a brave and beautifully wrought gift, a true story of survival in the face of adversity.
 
If you need reviews before plunking down some coin, they have been magnificent. Payne has been one of my favorite writers since I first read him. I don’t provide spoilers to novels or memoirs, so I won’t here. Besides, you already know what happened. It’s the journey Payne paints with beautiful and inspiring prose that will envelope any reader and inspire any writer. Reading this memoir has moved me to revisit my own, something I put away since I graduated two years ago.
 
I wrote a fictional memoir for my MFA thesis, so the suggested readings were many. None thus far can compare to Barefoot to Avalon. Poignant, heartbreaking, soul-searching and wondrous … Barefoot to Avalon is a masterpiece memoir by one of the best writers of our time.
 
 
 
All The Major Constellations ... by Pratima Cranse … she was a classmate in SNHU’s MFA program and had nailed a book contract at her graduation. Soon the hardcover will be released. I pre-ordered mine today … and I can’t wait to read it.
 
From KIRKUS: Easygoing Vermonter Andrew discovers the complexities of spirituality and sexuality in this heartfelt debut.
 
Andrew has two best friends in his life—smart, understanding Marcia and vivacious, flirtatious Sara. The girl he really wants, though, is ever unobtainable Laura, who socializes only with members of her fundamentalist church. When a tragic accident, just days before the class of 1995 graduates, leaves one friend incapacitated and the other helping with round-the-clock care, Laura (perhaps playing on Andrew’s vulnerability?) invites him to join her evangelical group. Seizing any opportunity for a chance to be near Laura, he accepts. Andrew’s surprised, however, when he feels a stirring inside (or is he just hungry and dehydrated?), when he kind of likes their touchy-feely interactions (but do guys really touch like that?), and when a seemingly virginal girl makes sexual advances (but hasn’t he always wanted Laura?). His confusing and overwhelming emotions ring true as he begins to question a wide range of religious and sexual experiences. Further complicating Andrew’s transitional summer are an alcoholic father and star-athlete brother, both prone to violent behavior, especially toward him. Moments of wry humor compliment Andrew’s subtle changes as he realizes there are no easy answers, perhaps not even one right answer. Readers will cheer him on as he makes a path to find his answers.
 
 
 

The great debate(s) … I didn’t watch it, but the kiddy table round apparently went to Carly Fiorina … she seems to want to go to war with everybody, especially Iran, and she isn’t afraid of sending our kids (yours or mine) off to fight another long and pointless war … the clips I saw of her showed she can be articulate, but the feeling is she’s running for VP and not the top slot. After last night top 10 performances, I’m not so sure she won’t wind up head to head vs. the Queen. Her calling Hillary Clinton a liar gave Chris Matthews conniptions, but that was fun to watch (I thought she kicked Chris’s Hillary-loving-ass) … seriously, who doesn’t think Hillary Clinton is a liar?
 

 
Sharp as she was, Fiorina forgot to mention the great Sniper Fire lies …
As it turned out, the main event was actually pretty funny … showing total and absolute loyalty to the GOP, FOX went after The Donald with extreme prejudice … not that The Donald needs any help in making a fool of himself.
 
How unfair were their questions to The Donald? They never asked Scott Walker why he should be trusted in the oval office after having been thrown out of college for cheating. Then again, Walker is considered one of their outside shots at regaining the White House. Had they asked any of the war hawks on the stage if they ever served in the military, and/or if not, why ... that would’ve been a bit more fair and balanced. We already know The Donald was hiding away in college during Vietnam (using that great American system that precludes the wealthy from showing their stones when it counts). Had they asked Rand Paul why two of his PAC officials were indicted the night before for bribery, that would’ve been more interesting than anything else discussed. I mean, think of it: “Mr. Paul, as a libertarian, you’re a champion of minimal government regulation. Is the indictment of your two top PAC officials any indication of the free market at work?”
Today conservatives are crazed over the anti-Trump treatment he received at the hands of FOX, but especially Megyn Kelly (who once insisted that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white) …
 
For all the good one-liners throughout the debate, I thought The Donald missed a great opportunity when Megyn Kelly asked: “You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”

I don’t know about yous, but I was thinking: Bill Clinton.
 
My favorite poster on the boards today had nothing to do with the GOP … unless, of course, the former Goldwater Girl is posing as a Democrat again …
 —Knucks
Every morning, I write an email to my wife … it has to do with the movie that was a vehicle to our falling in love. The email says:
Buon Giorno, Principessa!
 
I love my wife!!!!!
 
And hellooo nurse!!!
Today, I write: Buon Compleanno, Principessa … mi amore …
 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Meursault Investigation (preview) … The Ring Cycle … Shady Brady … the Great Debate … Psycho Rhetoric …

Amici:
The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud … all I can say thus far about this book I’m reading a second time now (immediately after the first reading) is that it is absolutely brilliant … in fact, it is my favorite read of the year thus far (and that’s saying a lot) … you should be familiar with Camus’ The Stranger before taking on The Meursault Investigation, but understand that even being familiar with the existential classic (I’ve read it several times), I will be going back to read it again after my second read of what is essentially a response to The Stranger and a statement that helps explain why Arab/black/etc. lives matter.
 
I’m taking my highlighting pen to the second read and will have to constrain myself (there are that many wonderful passages).
 
So, as a prequel to the review, freshen up on The Stranger … especially the murder Meursault commits – when he shoots and kills “an Arab.”
 
The Ring Cycle Oy vey, vey iz mir … where’s Saul Bellow when I need him most? Okay, so as much as I am enthralled (seriously so) with much of Richard Wagner’s works, his ring cycle is as appealing to me as a Marvel Comics movie (i.e., NOT). Yes, there are some brilliant moments throughout the Ring Cycle, but this is my second listening of the entire cycle, one after another. It's a tough go ... Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is. Ask my wife (or kids), I don’t like Hobbits, Harry Potter, Superman, Ant Man, The Hulk or any other fucking cartoon turned movie.  I didn’t like comics as a kid and I don’t like them now (except a few from The New Yorker and/or Playboy) … yes, I’m a cultural enigma (and/or moron).
 
The four operas that constitute the Ring cycle are, in sequence:
 
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold) ... Hotties and dwarfs, Gods and Giants, oh my!
 
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) ... Wotan's infidelity come home to roost.
 
Siegfried ... Greed, manipulation, singing birds, a dragon/giant (dopey Wotan) and hope ...
 
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) ... the immolation scene (all it needed)
 
Now, my wife perhaps put it best, at least as regards the times we’re living in … to quote her: “Apocalypse Now did more for that music than anything else.”  I was blasting the Flight of the Valkyries scene at the time, but let’s face it, she has a point. To be fair, I’m not a fan of Gods vs. humans, or humans vs. Giants, or birds singing/talking/giving counsel, etc., etc., etc. I can put up with Game of Thrones because there’s enough of politics involved to keep my interest, but when it doesn’t work for me is when the zombies come out to play (the white walkers).  Phooey!
 
But I digress. The music of the cycle has some beautiful and incredible moments, but they are too few and far between. The wife bought me tickets some dozen or so years ago to Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), a 2+ hour one act (no intermission) at the MET. I watched transfixed (I loved it) while my wife watched (and listened) in horror. She is not a fan of German opera.
 
Imagine trying all four operas of the Ring Cycle back to back to back to back?
 
Oy vey …
 
Much of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde remains (for me) the most beautiful music on the planet. The opera itself ranks very high on my list of favorite operas (a top 3 pick—the other two are Mozart operas—Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro).
 
I’ll eventually actually see the entire ring cycle performed, but it won’t be in succession. Most likely, especially due to pricing and my having become a legitimate tax paying citizen of the United State of America for more than 15 years now, I’ll see the cycle, opera by opera, over a four to six year period (assuming I’m still around). It's a challenge to watch it all in four days. Anything more than one a day might damage brain cells, but it's far more pleasant than a challenge I once took from some conservative friends, to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I did read it ... and shortly thereafter upchucked my last several meals ... in succession.
 
 Tom “Shady” Brady and Hillary Clinton … one destroys cellphones upon learning there will be an investigation and the other scrubs a server upon learning there will be an investigation. Massachusetts sees what it wants to see: Nothing wrong here. Meantime, the rest of the country sees what is obvious: Brady was destroying evidence that would bury him.
 
Now, what about Hillary? Her campaign sees what it wants: Nothing wrong here. Meantime, the rest of the country sees what is obvious: Clinton destroyed evidence that would bury her.
 
What happens next? Frankly, I’ve lost too much interest in NFL football to care, but I’m enjoying watching Hillary’s numbers dwindle so fast, the party of coronations is egging Joe Biden and John Kerry to get involved. No matter which issue is of more concern to you, at least in these two cases, schadenfreude rocks.

 
The Great Debate … I know it’ll be popcorn night at Casa Stella … we’re just as anxious for this fiasco as the rest of the country … will it be reality TV or will it wind up being a disappointment (i.e., will The Donald behave himself?) … it’s usually the audience in wingnut debates that does the most outrageous shit (like booing a gay serviceman, applauding Rick Perry’s lead in convicts put to death (whether they were actually guilty or not) etc.) … it’s a bacchanal of moronic delights and maybe a guilty pleasure we all can’t wait to observe.
 
Will The Donald say: “Don’t worry how I’ll do it, I’ll get it done. You couldn’t do it. I can. I can build walls like nobody else. You wouldn’t believe the walls I can build.”
 
Will he say: “Mike is right, this President is feckless. He’s leading Jews to the doors of the ovens. You wanna talk about ovens. You should see the ovens I can build.”
 
Will he say: “You wanna get rid of ISIS? Bomb the oilfields. Take away their money. I’ll bomb the oilfields. You won’t believe how I’ll bomb the oilfields.”
 
And so on …

 
Psycho Rhetoric … a sub-species of human beings hungry for pats on the back about their utter lack of intelligence has reared its ugly head again and again of late … they are morons calling for the end of the Muslim race, the end of social welfare, and a fascist police state (to name a few things) … I’d suggest they read The Meursault Investigation, but that might be asking for too much--an overly enthusiastic assumption they can read.
To be fair, I suspect they can actually read (at least some of them), but the process of reading an entire book, no matter its length, might be too painstaking a chore; an endeavor that would take way too much effort and focus. Attention spans amongst this sub-species doesn’t last very long. They speak and think in bumper sticker logic (why they so LOVED St. Ronald Reagan). What they’ve become, and proudly so, is a new KKK. I’ll leave it for them to guess the acronym. Here's a clue: Kay, Kay, Kay.
They’re great defenders of the nation (whether they served it or not). They claim: it is just fine and dandy when a cop (or cops) go to work on someone for non-compliance during traffic stops (or any other stops). Question a cop (What are you stopping me for?) and you get two choices … 1) a long vicious beating, whether you’re a woman or not, and/or 2) you die.
This same brand of moronic logic gets to complain about immigrants receiving social welfare because they get to see it firsthand--immigrants using food stamps, etc., but they ignore the fact that the same taxes they complain about paying (whether they actually pay them or not) finds its way to corporations in a far greater amount than to those on social welfare. Here’s a news flash: It’s not even close. Corporations pay their investors, boards of directors and CEO’s hundreds of millions of dollars that come with the blessing of government welfare. Far more than the kid foregoing a meal or two (something the moronic geniuses don’t see) so he can wear a pair of Nikes.
 
Mostly, the new KKK are misinformed and/or willfully ignorant, but it doesn’t help when conservative politicians champion their cause with equally absurd claims (Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, The Donald, et al). Fortunately, at least for the rest of us, the ranks of conservatives willfully following the rhetoric of hate is miniscule by comparison to beings with a functioning thought process. Let’s face it, the Pols (Trump, Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, et al), they don’t believe a word of it. They’re playing their new KKK rank and file like violins. They feed the fires of hatred, then sit back and collect their benefits in the forms of donations from the same corporations receiving government welfare. Or, in the case of The Donald, the deals he gets to make with pols over taxes he won’t have to pay when he builds something.
What I always find amusing is the pride behind the rhetoric of hatred. It’s almost always flown with pride, egging on a following of equally-minded morons chanting/typing: “You tell them!”
Of course the mother tongue they insist everyone speak in their schools, they don’t seem familiar with themselves. How it offends them so much to hear a language other than English is perplexing, since someone somewhere down their ancestral line mostly likely also spoke a foreign language. But why quibble with facts?
 
To be fair, I’ll never be accused of winning a grammar and/or spelling contest, but if you’re going to flaunt a sign in a public setting, at least ask your mother (or somebody) if you spelled the thing right.
 
 

—Knucks
 

 
Make no mistake, that scene from the movie is terrorism, whether you can digest it or not.
 
And here’s the actual opera version …
 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jill Stein/Bernie … where Bernie may fail, he doesn’t fail, and Jill gains … Sandra Bland: comply or die? … Shawn Milnes: keeping opera alive, bless him …

Amici:

I recently had a Facebook debate with some Green Party Jill Stein supporters. Most liked (“like”) the fact that I pledged my allegiance/support/future votes for Ms. Stein and her party if and when Bernie Sanders loses the Democratic nomination (a ticket I would never support without a Democratic Socialist on it). They see it as future support for a third party that speaks to a truly progressive political movement. A few, however, weren’t pleased with my decision to support a candidate that would run as a Democrat. They believe, and I agree, that there is no substantial difference between the two parties; that our military complex and corporate economics are embraced by both parties equally.

To be fair, their argument is a just one when I evaluate it from their perspective. I have long ago lost faith in the Democratic Party. I no longer pay much attention to a party that says one thing and does the exact opposite. There’s a terrific Salon interview with Bernie Sanders wherein he expresses his discontent with the Democratic Party and their acquiescence to greed (the repeal of Glass-Steagall, NAFTA, CAFTA and now TPP), and how economics are sidetracked for abortion and gun control issues, etc., but then Bernie claims they (the Democratic Party) are far better than the Republican Party.

I cannot agree.

Until the recent decisions by the Supreme Court supporting the Affordable Care Act (which doesn’t go nearly far enough) and Marriage Equality, the best argument for supporting the Democratic Party was the more liberal appointees to the bench they’re expected to make. Both those decisions came from a Republican majority bench (oops). The most significantly damaging SCOTUS decision made in recent times is the horrific Citizens United case that has legalized bribing politicians with big money. Do we really think Hillary Clinton (who has been amassing a great financial war chest for her 2016 presidential run for several years now) will seek to overturn Citizen United? Sorry, but there’s no trust here for Hillary Clinton to do anything she claims she’ll do for the left and/or the middle class and/or the poor, not after she’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars reassuring Goldman Sachs that she won’t break up the big banks. She’s been a corporate shill since her Goldwater Girl days and she hasn’t changed an iota.
It’s where Bernie loses me and where Jill Stein supporters arguing against my support of Bernie make a valid point; if all Bernie is going to do is stir up the left before he throws his support behind Hillary’s coronation (with the hope she will somehow include concessions to the left), then what’s the point?

Like I said, it’s a valid point, and thus far it’s cost me $105.00 in support for Bernie.

On the other hand, where Bernie doesn’t fail is his introduction to the concept of democratic socialism. Conservatives will pull muscles sprinting toward the Stalin and Mao models of socialism/communism (the millions killed, etc.) and remind us of all the propaganda we’ve swallowed since childhood about the wonder of so-called free markets and the American dream. It’s not even a clever fantasy anymore. The anachronistic arguments against socialism, no matter how strong the push from conservatives, is being washed away daily by nation states practicing democratic socialism throughout Europe. It’s all about a quality of life, not whether or not one person/family can come to gain so much wealth (off the backs of others) that they can own an entire government—what we’ve become in America over the past few decades. The Citizens United decision cemented our oligarchic status.

So, my point to the Jill Stein supporters was this: be grateful that Bernie Sanders is introducing the concept of socialism to America in a way that is energizing people who’ve taken the time to read and pay attention to what’s happening to this country via its oligarchic economic system. We are all better for it. And when (and if) Bernie does the traditional Michael Moore/liberal democratic sell-out at the last minute, and he supports Hillary Clinton, myself and many more who supported Bernie will join team Stein and support the Green Party, no matter the cost.

Our reasoning is simple: We won’t reward a corporate shill and military hawk with a record so deceitful, her own supporters can’t deny it. Nor will we reward a party that assumes we’ll be there in the end for them no matter what; a party that can ignore the left without a concern. We blame the Democratic left for allowing itself to become blind faith lemmings anxious to fall into lock-step with a party that continues to devastate the middle class with legislation that permitted banks to become too big to fail (Clinton’s repeal of Glass-Steagall), or supported sending manufacturing jobs to Mexico for the sake of greater profit (Clinton’s NAFTA), or Obam’s TPP, which was authored by corporate execs for the sake of even greater profit at the middle class expense.

The other thing Jill Stein supporters have to look forward to from many (not all) Bernie supporters is the following: We’ll never fall for it again. From 2016 on, we’ll vote Green Party across the board.

Unless, of course, when/if Bernie loses, he throws his support behind Jill Stein (where it belongs).

So, hear what Jill has to say about the state of our country under its oligarchic structure.



Sandra Bland ... comply or die?

The video below is obvious enough. The cop started off fine. The woman was upset at getting a ticket for changing lanes without signaling. The cop didn’t appreciate her being upset and considered it a challenge to his ego/gun toting/badge wearing self-righteousness. He demanded she put out her cigarette and when she explained it was her right to smoke in her car (which it was/is), he went Rambo and threatened to “light you (her) up.”



What happened next was off screen so we’ll never know what really happened, except Ms. Bland did express very clearly that someone had banged her head on the ground. The fact she spent 3 days in lockup for a traffic ticket defies logic.

What we do know very clearly is that the officer in question (Little Rambo) lied on his police report. So, one has to wonder whether or not falsifying a police report (how many times a day do you think that’s done across America?) is grounds for dismissal?

He was assaulted? Really?

Some supportive of the police (no matter what they do) claim the following: if you don’t comply, you get to die. It’s an extreme form of simple-mindedness that overlooks what is obvious on the above video and then compounded by falsified police reports. Defenders of the police no matter what they do tend to be super-conservative and suffer from an extreme form of confused ideology. They’re the first to complain about the loss of liberty, while they simultaneously (and arrogantly) support a police state. It seems they would have thoroughly enjoyed life in Hitler’s Nazi Germany … at least until someone knocked on their door.

This following video surfaced some time ago, but it’s been appearing again with the ever increasing new videos of an out of control American police force. Police brutality is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around forever, except now there’s video catching some in the act.

Here a cop repeatedly punches a homeless WOMAN in the face for her "non-compliance"? Again, defenders of police claim it’s her non-compliance that affords the policeman the right to viciously beat her in the face with his fists.



 
Again, if you’re fine with what the cop in the video does, you’d probably be fine with Kristallnacht (when Nazi Party SA paramilitary forces conducted a series of coordinated attacks against Jews).
 



Shawn Milnes writing about Opera ...

 
An article by Shawn in the Daily Beast: How Composer Ethel Smyth Made Opera History. She was a militant suffragette and lesbian, and to this day is the only female composer to have had a work performed at New York’s Met Opera. Inside her amazing life.
 

Shawn is the son of the famous Sherill Milnes … one of the greatest baritones in the history of opera. A master of Verdi roles … no better Rigoletto on the planet.
 
Here’s Shawn’s dad singing one of his most famous roles—the one that made me name our pup Rigoletto … if you haven’t listened (or attended) an opera before, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND listening to the Milnes, Pavarotti, Sutherland recording of Rigoletto: and if you haven’t attended an opera before, Rigoletto is the one to begin with.
 



—Knucks

How do you listen to this beautiful music and not be moved to listen again and again?