Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE BAFFLER ON THE LONG CON

If “every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” then the conservative movement is well onto the third phase of that life cycle.

One of my favorite magazines (journals? digests?) of all time was The Baffler Quarterly, which was published by Thomas Frank, current editor of Harper's (which has gone downhill since Lewis Lapham left to do his own quarterly, but is still worth reading).

Anyhoo, The Baffler was recently revived, and they have this amazing article about just exactly how the Conservative Media Elites really feel about the people who listen, watch and read them...

Here is a fine, elucidating example of the kind of brazen hucksterism that is being inflicted upon readers of NewsMax, The Blaze, Alex Jones’ websites, WorldNetDaily, etc, on a daily basis...
Dear Reader, I’m going to tell you something, but you must promise to keep it quiet. You have to understand that the “elite” would not be at all happy with me if they knew what I was about to tell you. That’s why we have to tread carefully. You see, while most people are paying attention to the stock market, the banks, brokerages and big institutions have their money somewhere else . . . [in] what I call the hidden money mountain . . . All you have to know is the insider’s code (which I’ll tell you) and you could make an extra $6,000 every single month.
If I were a cruel, heartless bastard, then maybe I could claim to be tickled pink over the fact that this particularly noxious socio-political demographic is getting fleeced, snookered, and bled bone dry by the very people they trust to cut through all the so-called "liberal media bias" and give them the real scoop about the world we live in... a world which they seem to believe is constantly on the brink of some sort of Apocalyptic collapse over President Blackenstein's historically unprecedented reign Socialist Islamic Terror...

Actually, scratch that. I am sort of tickled by it!

Anyway, you can read more, oh so delicious hilarity at The Baffler.

***
Recommended supplemental reading:
And here's a great book for y'all to check out:

Thunder on the Right, by Alan Crawford. This is one of the best books of its kind that I've found. So many juicy details on the "dignified" forefathers of the conservative movement.The origins of ALEC and Heritage are especially tawdry and funny.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NEW MARIANNE FAITHFUL TUNE PENNED BY ROGER WATERS HAS VINTAGE PINK FLOYD VIBE

Personally, I kinda dig it. There's an "Arnold Layne" meets "Mother" thing going on there. Then again, I have always worshiped at the Temple of Floyd, so perhaps my judgement is clouded. Regardless, let me know what y'all think down in the comments section, below.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

JERKY'S BOOKSHELF: "JUNKY" BY WILLIAM BURROUGHS

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802120423/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0802120423&linkCode=as2&tag=daidirdia-20

For a dude who made a career out of being the world's most famous heroin junkie, William S. Burroughs sure does seem to get a hell of a lot wrong in Junky: The Definitive Text of "Junk". For instance, he claims it takes a few months of serious, daily heroin use to become a full-blown junkie. That's just bullocks. Although it's true the nannies out there who try to tell you you'll be hopelessly addicted after your first fix are equally erroneous, the truth is actually far closer to the alarmists' stance than Old William Lee's. Best to just stay away from that shit.

One notable element of this particular version - there have been many over the years since the first, essentially disposable Ace paperback edition came out in 1953 - is the inclusion of a barely literate introduction by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, as well as a junkie's "hep lingo" lexicon at the back of the book. If you ever wanted to find out how a "lush roller" makes a living, then this appendix is the place to find out.

By the way, if you buy this book - or any book, as long as you access Amazon through this link - I will get a few pennies in my cup! Do it for yer old pal Jerky! Either that, or fucking donate, why don'tcha?! I've got three blogs on the go here, and only 60 dollars worth of ad revenue over the last three years to show for it!

JERKY'S BOOKSHELF: THE PARADISE MOTEL, BY ERIC McCORMACK


Eric McCormack's The Paradise Motel.

"Postmodern" is a word that gets tossed around like... well, like stuff that gets tossed around a lot! See? Even that little "joke" of mine could be considered postmodern, or PoMo as its most fervent and hip adherents tend to call it. Filled with the kind of gruesome grotesques that literary critic and philosopher Julia Kristeva termed "the carnivalesque", Canadian author Eric McCormack's four-part
parade of nightmare imagery is episodic and disjointed.

And yet, there still remains a compelling and occasionally thrilling multi-layered narrative involving one man's quest to find out whether or not his grandfather's tall tales about the gruesome fate of the MacKenzie family, with whom old granddad had grown up back in rural Scotland, are true.

If you like your fiction steeped in violent, gruesome physicality, with a surrealistic twang that occasionally reminded this reader of Yann Martel's Life of Pi by way of the Russians (I'm warning you... it's grim!), then perhaps you might want to give The Paradise Motel a try. Don't let the non sequitur title throw you. This isn't a John Irving pastiche.

As with every book appearing on JERKY'S BOOKSHELF, if you decide to purchase it via Amazon, please go through MY LINKS. The few extra pennies a month this nets me goes a long way towards compelling me to continue producing this blog.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

JUSTICE SCALIA'S DIRE WARNING


According to this Huffington Post report, written in response to this Aspen Times article, US Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Fat Tony" Scalia has taken his campaign against "activist judges" by opening a talk to the Utah Bar Association with...
...a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.
Okay, so, Godwin's Law notwithstanding, I suspect I get the subtext of what Scalia was going for, here.

In a way, for Scalia, it's not about German's judicial history at all. I'm quite sure Scalia - who is more of a cultural critic than a judicial mind, anyway - knows very little about how the courts worked and what they did back then. What Scalia is really referring to is German culture in general in the pre-Third Reich period.

That period was known as the Weimar Republic, which lasted just about 14 years, between the end of the first world war and Hindenberg's assumption of dictatorial powers in 1930, which paved the way for the Third Reich.

One feature of the Weimar Republic was an extreme liberalism, including a very open attitude towards homosexuality and "decadent" Modernism in the arts.

It doesn't take a genius to read between Scalia's lines, here. There is no academic critique to be sussed from Scalia's intemperate words. He is simply comparing the USA to Weimar Germany for its growing acceptance of homosexuals and homosexuality in culture.

Oh, and the other, darker, equally "between the lines" notion that one can take from Scalia's comments is that there will be a Holocaust-like backlash coming soon, too, for American gays, just as there was for German gays and other groups who were Holocausted into oblivion in Germany back then.

Typical right-winger, praying for a Holocaust.

MEDIAVORE ~ TV: VEEP (SEASONS 1-3)


Who would have guessed that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss's all-American, sitcom-style approach to comedy acting - excellent and compelling though her talents certainly are - would mesh so well with the revolutionary approach to televised comedy developed by legendary BritCom writer/producer Armando Iannucci over the last couple decades? Compare and contrast, for instance, any random season of Seinfeld with, let's say, such deeply experimental shows as The Day Today, Knowing Me, Knowing You and Time Trumpet, and you'd be hard-pressed to think of any way for these two extremely different approaches towards comedy to gel.

But then there's I'm Alan Partridge, featuring perhaps Iannucci's most successful character (co-created with fellow BritCom titan Steve Coogan). It's arguable that Partridge's brand of cringe comedy owes something to Seinfeld (by way of The Office), even if it takes things a great deal further. British censors are, after all, far less reactionary than their American counterparts. So yes, fans of Partridge might have had an inkling that a "comedy bridge" of sorts could one day be constructed in order to reach across the pond.

An Americanized take on Iannucci's BBC series The Thick of It and its 2009 spin-off film In The LoopVeep is just such a bridge. And it is an unmitigated success. All three eight-episode seasons are excellent, equal parts funny, smart and - yes - even sexy. As American Vice President Selena Meyer, Louis-Dreyfuss is, if anything, better than she was in Seinfeld. And I really loved her in Seinfeld.

The supporting cast are also uniformly superb, with special kudos going to Tim Simons as the detestable White House flunky Jonah and Tony Hale as bag-toting Vice Presidential gopher Gary Walsh. Also, it's kind of awesome to see My Girl's Anna Chlumsky avoiding the child star curse and bouncing back with, arguably, the best role of her life so far.

If you're a fan of Seinfeld, you need to check out Veep ASAP. If you're a fan of the BritCom explosion that has led to some of the finest satire since the days of Johnathan Swift... ditto. Oh, and on a side note, if you're one of the many people who've been wondering and worrying about where the Hell Chris Morris went after directing 2010's incredible Islamic terrorism satire Four Lions, please note the fact that he's directed four episodes of Veep for his old pal Iannucci.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

MEDIAVORE ~ FILM: "DELIVERY" AND "THE SACRAMENT"


Have you had your fill of "found footage" horror flicks? You know, those movies - such as the trend-setting Blair Witch Project and best-of-genre entry [REC] - that attempt to induce chills by evoking the kind of heightened level of verisimilitude that only a documentary perspective can bring?

Considering some of the dross being pumped out in this style over the last couple years, I can't say that I blame you. It seems as though every week brings a bigger crop of "mockumentaries" with ambitions that outstrip both their budgets and their creators' ability to tell a story.

Such is not the case with two films that I was recently lucky enough to catch on VOD. Both are firmly in the "found footage" genre, and both have really cramped cinematic settings and obviously low budgets - but they use these apparent flaws to great advantage.

The reason why Brian Netto and Adam Schindler's haunted pregnancy thriller Delivery works so well is pretty obvious. The low budget and tiny universe its characters inhabit mirrors perfectly the very type of Lifestyle Channel-style "reality show" that it so successfully pretends to be. In the beginning, as we follow first-time mommy-and-daddy-to-be Kyle and Rachel Massy, things seem to be going par for the course, if a tad on the rough side. But it's nothing beyond the kind of real-life drama you'd expect from a look at impending parenthood... at first. Then, things get creepy.

I don't want to give too much away. This isn't a "think piece" about found footage horror movies. It's just a quick post to let you know about two movies I've recently watched that I suspect many of you might also enjoy.

Which brings us to The Sacrament. Of the two, mumblegore auteur Ti West's Eli Roth-produced take on a modern, miniature version of Jonestown is the superior film. The performances are uniformly excellent, with a standout performance by Gene Jones as the charismatic cult leader as Father.

The story, such as it is, surrounds a hipster wannabe documentarian Jake and his hipster videographer buddy Sam traveling to the South American religious community of Eden Parish so they can check up on Jake's sister, Caroline. Oh, and they're doing this as an assignment for VICE, so the entire film is branded like one of those VICE travelogues that have become so popular of late.

Again, I don't want to give too much away, in the hopes that you will see this for yourselves. I will say that there is one scene that is so well performed and so emotionally raw - especially in contrast to the cooler-than-thou attitude taken by the leads for most of the film - that it shook me to my core and left me disturbed for hours after viewing it.

I realize that may not sound like much of a recommendation, but in the circles I travel, it kind of is.

Ta-ta until the next edition of the Daily Dirt Diaspora blog's MEDIAVORE section!

CONFESSIONS OF A KUBRICK NUT, PART 1


I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with Stanley Kubrick.

I suppose it’s obvious. Most people don’t go around starting up blogs without damn good reason. My damn good reason for starting up a Stanley Kubrick blog is the fact that I’m obsessed with the man and his movies. Obsessed. Full stop.

There are many different varieties of Kubrick fan. Some have one favorite film that they obsess over, and they can take or leave the rest. Others are fans of that three-film span, from Strangelove to Clockwork, during which time Kubrick clearly both a) was at the peak of his powers and b) had his thumb on the pulse-point of the global zeitgeist, making him the most important director of that cinematic time period.

And then there are the obsessives, the fanatics, those of us for whom Kubrick's singular vision, uncompromising will, and peculiar philosophical bent combine to form a potent mix that can fairly be called a cult of personality. It is with some small regret that your humble blogger counts himself part of the latter, but hey... if I denied it, I'd be lying.

This doesn't mean that I think Kubrick or his films are perfect. Far from it. But it does mean is that, for me, even the flaws are fascinating.

I've had this obsession – to a greater or lesser degree – ever since I first sat frozen in terror on the living room floor while a commercial for The Shining seared itself onto my brain, way back in 1979. I was nine years old at the time, a Famous MonstersMad Magazine and Marvel Comics reader on the verge of making the quantum leap to FangoriaNational Lampoon and Stephen King novels. I had no idea who Stanley Kubrick was, nor what The Shining was supposed to be about. But that commercial… Holy crap.

Continued at the KubrickU blog, a new blog by yer old pal Jerky!

Friday, June 27, 2014

MEDIAVORE ~ TV: THE WIRE (SEASONS 1-5)

The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002, and, after a 60 episode run over five seasons on the American premium cable network HBO, ended on March 9, 2008. It wasn't exactly a ratings success, and it failed to pick up very many awards during its run. However, among the show's many evangelical fans - including top rank writers and performers, world-class novelists and the occasional public intellectual - it was championed as one of the finest dramatic series in the history of television.

Because I don't watch much television anymore - and because I'm not much of a fan of cop-centered series in general - I didn't get around to watching this show until February, 2014. I have now seen every episode - many of them multiple times - and I have zero problems fessing up to my previous obstinate idiocy. I was a fool.

So yes, basically, if you're one of the few serious-minded mediavores left who still have yet to take in this incredible show, allow me to be the latest to tell you that everything you've heard about The Wire is true. It really is one of the finest dramatic series in the history of the medium. And you really do need to see it. Like... right fucking now.

In future MEDIAVORE blog entries, I hope to chronicle my media consumption, sharing some opinions on books, films, TV shows, music, graphic novels, videogames, etc. I also hope to occasionally provide longer think-pieces on some of these topics, if and when I feel the material merits it, and if I feel that I have something worth saying.

In the case of The Wire, it just so happens that omnipresent British media curmudgeon Charlie Brooker took up an entire episode of his (excellent) TV review series ScreenWipe to explain exactly what it is that makes The Wire required viewing. And, lucky you, that episode just so happens to be freely available on Youtube! Which means I can just link to it here, urge you to watch it immediately, and consider my good deed for the day as having been accomplished. So sit back, relax, hit PLAY and let Charlie and his guests tell you everything that I would have liked to tell you about The Wire, only a hell of a lot better than I could have, in roughly half the time it would have taken me (circuitous and loquacious bastard that I am).

YOU WATCH NOW!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

LEFT / RIGHT ~ A POEM

Right
The Cain-Hand 
Abel slew. 
Left 
Behind. 
Left 
Holding the bag. 
Right 
The thing that Might makes. 
Right 
Not asked for. 
Taken.