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SAMANTHA TAYLOR, WHARTON GRADUATE 2012: You have all these anti-establishment, “mad at the man” hipsters running around leading this movement when in reality they are living off of plush trust funds funded by the establishment that they’re so mad at. Many of them need to go occupy the homes in which they grew up, nestled in the safe, upper middle class suburbs of America. Why don’t they occupy the Apple store, or are they too afraid of not having the newest stylish Mac to pose with at the local coffee shop? While the dispersion of wealth in America is no laughing matter, many of the people leading the charge are – especially the trustafarian hip-tards who are occupying cities like Oakland. MORE
RELATED: Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran injured during police attempts to clear Occupy Oakland on Tuesday, has given a sign of appreciation for the wave of goodwill shown by fellow protesters across the US. Olsen’s roommate, Keith Shannon, said the 24-year-old gave a “thumbs-up” after being told of the support he has received – which has included vigils across the US and marches against police brutality. Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull when he was apparently being struck by a police projectile on Tuesday and is unable to talk. Officers from more than 15 different police agencies were involved in operations in Oakland on Tuesday, which included the use of tear gas and ‘less lethal’ weapons. Olsen was hit on the right side of the head, damaging the speech centre of the brain. Video footage showed a police officer throwing a non-lethal explosive near to a stricken Olsen as fellow protesters came to his aid. Shannon told the Guardian that Olsen is still communicating via written notes – although these tend to be short – and that Olsen’s spelling has suffered since he was injured. “He only really writes when he needs something,” Shannon said. Olsen keeps a notepad and pen beside him on the bed to issue the messages, which often consist of just one word. MORE
RELATED: “Late last night, Scott Olsen, a former Marine, two-time Iraq war veteran, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland march. The march began at a downtown library and headed towards City Hall in an effort to reclaim a site—recently cleared by police—that had previously served as an encampment for members of the 99% movement. Scott joined the Marines in 2006, served two-tours in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010. Scott moved to California from Wisconsin and currently works as a systems network administrator in Daly, California. Scott is one of an increasing number of war veterans who are participating in America’s growing Occupy movement. Said Keith Shannon, who deployed with Scott to Iraq, “Scott was marching with the 99% because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren’t being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes.” - Graham Clumpner of Iraq veterans Against the War
FIRST: Cop shoots Scott Olsen in the face with tear gas cannister
THEN: Cop throws flash grenade at people attempting to help Scott Olsen…
FRESH AIR: Bad As Me, Waits’ 20th album, references the people he normally sings about: loners, losers, drunks and eccentrics. The “poet of outcasts,” as The New York Times once called Waits, romanticizes loneliness, the city of Chicago, death and love, among other topics. The album also pays homage to some of Waits’ favorite singers, including James Brown, Peggy Lee and Howlin’ Wolf. “I’ve always looked to [Wolf] for guidance, and probably always will,” Waits says. “He does have a voice that is otherworldly. It should be in a time capsule somewhere. When you’re a kid and you’re trying to find your own voice, it’s rather daunting to hear somebody like Howlin’ Wolf, because you know that you’ll never achieve that. That’s the Empire State Building. You can scream into a pillow for a year and never get there.” One of the torch ballads on Bad As Me is called “Kiss Me,” and has opening chords reminiscent of “Cry Me a River.” The title, Waits says, was inspired by Kiss Me Like a Stranger, Gene Wilder’s book about Gilda Radner. “As soon as I heard it,” Waits says, “I said, ‘That’s a tune waiting to be written.'” To make the recording sound older, Waits added the sound of vinyl pops and clicks — using a piece of chicken barbecuing on a grill. “It sounds exactly like vinyl if you hold the microphone up to your barbecue,” he says. “It’s the same sound, actually. … I wanted to go back in time a little bit and give it a feeling like you’re alone in a hotel with a record player.” MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Compared with “Real Gone,” an album full of songs that clanged, scraped and bristled with distortion and cryptic lyrics, “Bad as Me” climbs off the ledge. “There’s less phlegm and there’s less smoke in the room.” The lyrics are more straightforward, though no less generous with imagery. “You’re the head on the spear, you’re the nail on the cross/You’re the fly in my beer, you’re the key that got lost,” he tells a kindred spirit in the title song. It’s an album of love songs, cackling contemplations of death and, most often, songs about hitting the road. “I just want to get lost,” he declares over a blurred but robust rockabilly backbeat in “Get Lost.” The arrangements reclaim the mixture of old-timey and surreal that Mr. Waits has long savored, with twangy guitars, pushy horns, woozy saloon piano and drumming that conjures roadhouses, music halls and military tattoos. There are half a dozen blues stomps, with none other than Keith Richards joining in the guitar scuffles with David Hidalgo, of Los Lobos, and the eclectic sideman and bandleader Marc Ribot. “Tom likes tunes with these monstrous grooves that kick you into playing,” Mr. Ribot, who has worked on many of Mr. Waits’s albums and toured with him, said by phone. “On this record it was less, ‘O.K., let’s be super rigorous and create music completely without precedent,’ and more just ’Let’s rock the house.’ ” MORE
BY JONATHAN VALANIA The Astro is a broken-down, drunk motel located about an hour north of San Francisco in Santa Rosa, near the arid, wine-growing region of the Sonoma Valley. It’s Tom Waits country – he lives somewhere around here, although exactly where remains a closely guarded secret. MAGNET booked a room at the Astro because the price is right, but upon closer inspection, it’s the ideal setting to await an audience with the man who elevates the down and out in song. The bard of boardinghouse madrigals. The man who reads the lines in people’s faces like a palmist, uttering the stories behind the wheelchair smiles and motel miles that map the crazy countenances of the characters that haunt his songs. Our room, as Waits puts it in the song “Ninth And Hennepin,” is “filled with bitters and blue ruin.” It’s a stomped-out cigarette butt of a place. The ventilator is broken, and it’s clear the oxygen has left this room years ago. There’s mold on the ceiling and a hint of urine in the air. A brick holds up the short leg of the bed, which is dotted with cigarette burns and mysterious stains. The faucet won’t stop dripping, and there’s a pubic hair clinging to the rim of the bathtub like a garnish. The swimming pool is filled with dirt and weeds. There is, however, free HBO.
The only other guest amenity is the comfort of knowing that the woman who checks you in also minds the cash register at the liquor store around back. It’s 10 a.m. and the residents are getting an early start, stocking up on their daily allotment of vodka, brandy and cigarettes. A little girl stands out front mimicking the happy-hour wobble of a drunk ambling down the sunstroked street “He bumped into a wall and now he’s skipping,” she says to nobody in particular. There are two kinds of guests at the Astro: those who are only staying for an hour and those who will never leave.
File our stay under “Accidental Tourism,” a random touchstone to Waits’ boozy, flophouse residency at the Tropicana Motel(1) in the endless, doomed summer of Los Angeles in the ’70s. It was a simpler time then. A piano served as furniture, and down the hall lived Waits’ partner in grime, Chuck E. Weiss, “the kind of guy that would sell you a rat’s ass for a wedding ring,” joked Waits to an interviewer at the time. Weiss brought around Rickie Lee Jones, with whom Waits shared a brief creative and romantic dalliance. It was at the Tropicana that Waits forged the image that would stick with him through the years: a rumpled, bourbon-fed balladeer, holding up a drunk piano, eyes-closed, 80-proof chords dancing the tarantella with his bullfrog croak of a voice, pirouetting in the halo of smoke and stubble ringing the low-slung, tweed dude cap. Between regular tours opening for acts like Frank Zappa and the Rolling Stones, Waits would record the seven albums that would mark his early incarnation as a crushed romantic huffing the last remaining fumes of the Beat and jazz eras. On albums like The Heart Of Saturday Night, Small Change and Nighthawks At The Diner, Waits hung his weary, gonna-drink-the-lights-out persona on a dancing skeleton of upright bass and plaintive piano chords. It was a Tin Pan Alley full of hoboes and drifters, dancing girls and desperate characters, barroom wit and gutter poetry. Waits was the guy playing piano in the corner of the coffee shop in Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. Unfortunately, it’s the corner that you can’t see.
Saint Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), was a missionary and logician. Annie Clark (1982- ), the American singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist who goes by the name St. Vincent, brings a missionary zeal to her current status as indie’s ambassador of goodwill from The Other Side. Likewise, despite all its head-spinning detours and U-turns, her music follows the pristine logic of a flowchart. Such was the case Thursday night when St. Vincent stunned a near-capacity crowd in the sweaty basement of the First Unitarian Church with a flawless recreation of selections from Actor, her just-released and deservedly hyped sophomore collection of otherworldly, asymmetrical pop.
Clark plays all the instruments on Actor, but Thursday night she was backed by a crack four-piece band – a flutist/saxophonist, a violinist, a bassist, and a drummer – that expertly replicated the album’s jigsaw arrangements and dreamy vistas. Clark handled guitar and vocal duties, and proved extraordinarily adept at both. Her guitar playing sounded like some unholy union of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary; her singing evoked the dream-pop enchantment of the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, and the whisper-to-a-scream inscrutability of Bjork and Kate Bush. The whole ensemble was strikingly lit like a David Lynch dream sequence, with washes of bordello red and cerulean blue flickering in time with the music’s shape-shifting permutations.
EZRA KLEIN: A lot of the commentary surrounding the fact that the world’s 7 billionth baby will soon start mewling has suggested that there are “too many” people for the Earth to handle. But context matters. It’s true that seven billion people all using the same amount of energy and raw materials as the average American would utterly demolish the planet’s carrying capacity. But if we can either curb our consumption or learn to use resources more efficiently — so that everyone consumes, on average, one-fifth of what Americans do now — then we could, in theory, survive just fine. Putting this in a climate context, author and political and environmental activist George Monbiot offers another argument for focusing more on consumption than population. A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that slowing population growth (such as making birth control more accessible and improving sex education and women’s rights) could provide “16-29% of the emissions reductions suggested to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change.” Pretty significant. But that still means that 70 to 84 percent of the solution will involve cleaner energy sources, new technologies, improved efficiency, and (quite possibly) a reduction in overall consumption and waste. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding. A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source. A third photograph shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Another shows a sign that reads, “Baum Estates” — needless to say, it’s also full of foreclosed houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or mock foreclosure signs — or both. MORE
AP TICKER: I’m getting lots of letters about why I haven’t shown my face at any of the Occupy Philly protests. I wholeheartedly, endorse and support their endeavors and while I talk a good game about revolution and overthrow of this plutocracy, the sad truth of the matter is……..I’m a very very lazy man. As I have said many times before, my favorite hobbies are as follows, lying on my couch and being very very quiet. I and my couch bound brethren, represent a subset of The Greatest Generation that I have coined “The Lazy Generation” This true silent majority generally agrees with the Occupiers on practically every principle, but, we are kind of in the middle of watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix instant and the parking down there looks like a bitch. So that’s why I need you all to work a little harder, to pick up the slack for jaggoffs like me who are stuck behind a mortgage and burdened with fear and debts no honest man can pay. Brothers and Sisters, I need you to march a little further and shake your fists a little harder so you can wake up the slumbering, apathetic and terrified masses. Its nice that a few thousand people are now actively protesting, it’s time to turn the heat up a bit so the rest of us, ALL OF US, will rise up with you.
On a side note, I often receive a mass email that asks the evil question.. Should welfare recipients have to take drug tests to receive their benefits?
Yes I say, Yes, They should! They should also have to take physicals and dental exams, and we treat and we heal them, compassionately. We the people are too big to fail, We are with you in your anger and You are just a few news cycles away from making actual change. So nudge me awake when that happens. Til next time folks, I’m AP Ticker and remember…those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
[Illustrations by ALEX FINE]
BY ALEX POTTER Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk has just published his 11th novel, Damned, the first installment of a trilogy that documents a few days in the afterlife of Madison Spencer, the dearly departed daughter of a filthy rich film producer father and narcissistic movie star mother. Madison dies on her 13th birthday in a freak accident that wouldn’t be out of place in the apocalyptic imagination of Tyler Durden. Palahniuk’s luridly cinematic rendering of hell—think screenplay by Milton, based on the novel by Dante and directed by John Hughes—is littered with sticky-sweet Halloween candy and pivotal scenes take place on an Dali-esque desert plane comprised of finger- and toenail clippings. Damned teams up the ill-fated Madison with a pack of dead teens who resemble nothing so much as a macabre Breakfast Club. As absurd as all this sounds, Palahniuk insists it’s just another love story. Of course, Chuck P insists that all of his novels—including the eerily prescient, nihilistic anti-consumerist psychosis of Fight Club—are love stories. To advance his reading at the Free Library, Phawker recently got Mr. Palahniuk on the horn to shed some light on his latest mind-fucking narrative.
PHAWKER: So you currently live near Portland, right?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Yes.
PHAWER: Damned is your twelfth novel, right?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: I gotta count. Fight Club—I’m counting on my fingers—Survivor, [Invisible] Monsters, Lullaby, Choke, Diary, Haunted, Rant, Snuff, Pygmy is 10, Tell All is 11, so yeah, Damned is 12.
PHAWKER: Are you a religious person? The book has a tongue-in-cheek Judeo-Christian theme. Or is researching that stuff just more of a hobby for you?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: I was raised Catholic, but I really haven’t been a practicing Catholic since the late 1970s. Are you familiar with those Left Behind books?
PHAWKER: I’ve never read them, but yes, I’m familiar.
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: They were so enormously successful with Christians because they reinforced the Christian narrative about the afterlife. Part of what I set myself with, with the three books about [Damned protagonist] Madison Spencer is I wanted to write kind of a secular, humanist version of those Left Behind books, that would kind of address the insecurities of how secular humanists would approach the afterlife.
PHAWKER: Did you say books, plural? Is this going to be a series?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: There will be at least three of these books.
PHAWKER: There is quite a cliffhanger at the end. I’m very interested to see what happens next. There must at least a dozen different demons who play major characters in the story. Are they from real religious texts and belief systems?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: They are. They’re all from different enormous religious studies that were done in the Middle Ages mostly. And then throw in Liberace and Mapplethorpe for good measure.
PHAWKER: You allude to The Breakfast Club more than once, and in fact, you call Madison’s clique “the Dead Breakfast Club.” Have the films of John Hughes been an influence on you? An artistic connection between you and him seems highly unlikely on the face of it.
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: On the most basic level, I had to think of what would be the most classic love story movies that a 13-year-old girl of right now would like. For her a classic movie would be something like The Breakfast Club, in the same way, for my generation, a classic movie might be Casablanca. So, number one, it’s establishing what would be considered an old movie for Madison, because she’s 13. And on another level, I thought The Breakfast Club was a very interesting version on Jean-Paul Sartre’s idea of hell in his play No Exit. Are you familiar with that?
PHAWKER: “Hell is other people”?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Exactly. It consists of one man who finds himself locked in a room with two women in a perpetual argument for the rest of eternity. In a way I thought The Breakfast Club was just a very smart updating of Sartre’s idea. So, in a way, they’re both depicting hell, and so it seemed appropriate that I should use both of those depictions of hell in my depiction of hell.
PHAWKER: I’ve heard you characterize Fight Club a love story. Would you say that Damned is also kind of a love story?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: It is…but only because I think all of my books are love stories. There’s always someone looking for a relationship.
PHAWKER: I really appreciated the connections to Wuthering Heights, one of my favorite books. That, to me, was another unexpected connection, but it works. The character Goran, after I thought about it, really did remind me of Heathcliff.
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: It’s so built up in Madison’s mind that Goran is Heathcliff, it almost doesn’t matter what Goran is actually like, because we’re always going to see him through Madison. So, he’s always going to be Heathcliff, because Madison loves him as Heathcliff. Do you remember the Pepe LePew cartoon from Warner Brothers? The skunk who fell in love with a cat?
PHAWKER: Of course.
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: It didn’t really matter whether or not the cat was a skunk, because the skunk wanted the cat to be a skunk so bad, that this poor cat…it didn’t matter…it was out of the loop completely. Goran is out of the loop. He’s always going to be Heathcliff to [Madison].
PHAWKER: Do you see Damned becoming a movie? And on a related note, do you like the films that directors have adapted from your books?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: I do. I love them. [David] Fincher [with Fight Club] and Clark Gregg with Choke both did great jobs with the resources they had. Both of those stories were thought to be completely impossible to make into films, in the same way my story “Guts” is pretty much impossible to be made into a film, but even that is being made into a film. I think in a way filmmakers like that “impossible” challenge.
PHAWKER: Really? “Guts” is a short story from Haunted, right? The guy in the swimming pool…?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Exactly. This summer I met with a Belgian director named Koen Mortier who is adapting the whole book into a movie.
PHAWKER: So, what’s with the candy in the book? It’s used as currency in hell. Do you have a sweet tooth?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Hell is such a completely different place from Earth that I wanted to have something very ordinary that people on Earth would be familiar with—that would occur as this great ordinary thing that would give them an idea of Hell, so that here on Earth, as they saw candy or as they saw people on Halloween, it would give them some idea, some attachment to this fictitious Hell I made up. Placing an ordinary thing in this extraordinary circumstance, so that people can relate to it—that’s what the candy does.
PHAWKER: In your hell, they frequently play The English Patient. Clearly you’re not a big fan of the movie. Why? Is it because it’s so formulaic?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Number one, I wanted to have a movie that Madison herself wouldn’t really appreciate, so I just picked a movie I can’t really appreciate, one that I’ve never understood or enjoyed. So, in a way, Madison is me: we both just didn’t get The English Patient.
PHAWKER: Fair enough. I understand you used to work as a hospice escort. Did your experience in doing that have any bearing on the macabre humor that’s so prevalent in your novels?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Definitely. I think for anybody who works in a profession—whether they’re an emergency worker, a fireman, an emergency room nurse—people who have to deal with death on a regular basis tend to develop this defense mechanism by finding some dark funny side to it.
PHAWKER: Without giving away too much of the plot, Madison’s schoolmates play a prank on her that involves nearly choking her to death. Did you go to private school? Is that prank, initiation or whatever it is inspired by something out of your own childhood?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: No, I went to Columbia High School in a tiny town out in the middle of the desert with a bunch of poor kids throughout all of grade school. I remember maybe in fifth grade, some new students came to school, and they taught everybody what I think they called the “breathing game.” People would suffocate each other on the playground at recess, and kind of bring each other back to life. None of us had ever taken drugs before, so this was our kind of first out-of-body experience. And it seemed like such a part of childhood—that people have these choking, breathing, suffocation games. They’re so frightening, but they’re something almost everybody experiences at the age of ten or eleven.
PHAWKER: So you underwent one of these breathing games?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: Yes, but when we did it, we used to sit on each other’s chests, and use our body weight to suffocate the other people. And people would take turns being suffocated so they could have this strange, hallucinogenic, out-of-body experience. And we did it every recess.
PHAWKER: Did anybody ever get hurt?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: I’m not sure. Ultimately it got fouled out, because the school wouldn’t permit us to do it, but it was so popular. It was popular for weeks.
PHAWKER: How soon do you plan to release the next book in the series?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: The second book is the same character, Madison, getting to Purgatory. The third will be her getting to Heaven, ultimately. But right now, I’m almost done with the second book. I might be done by Christmas. I think the publisher would like it to come out late next year, but I would like it to come out in 2013.
PHAWKER: Last question: Do people still approach you on the street and ask you what the first rule of Fight Club is?
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: No. Not really.
QUIT MUMBLING: The Dream Syndicate was described to me as L.A.’s version of The Velvet Underground from the 80′s. Say no more- I’m in. The band formed in ’81, played a show in Hollywood, made a basement 4-song demo, and overnight grabbed the attention of the L.A. music scene. In ’82 The Dream Syndicate released The Days of Wine and Roses, an album that could have easily doubled for a VU bootleg, only with a bit more noise and dynamic shifts. “Halloween” is a gem from the album, utilizing pretty wonderful guitar feedback as a dense surrounding for the dried out Reed-esque vocals. Enjoy below. MORE
WKDVR At least seven people were arrested in downtown Denver during a confrontation between Denver Police and Occupy Denver protesters Saturday afternoon. A police spokesman says the confrontation began when some Occupy Denver protesters tried to “occupy” the state capitol, which is illegal. “I saw the police become brutal for no reason,” said a woman who was at the protest. “I saw them choke a guy, I saw people get tear gassed who weren’t violent.” Witnesses say some in the crowd were throwing objects at police, and that a police officer patrolling the protest on a motorcycle was pushed off his bike. “We did have an officer who was pushed off his motorcycle and we had officers who were kicked,” said Denver Police Lieutenant Matt Murray. “When it escalated to that point we made an all-citywide call for every available officer, and that’s what you’re seeing now.” MORE
THE DENVER CHANNEL: New Denver police chief Robert White has arrived in Colorado to meet with the mayor, city council and the public he’s about to represent. He said when he applied in Denver he searched online to learn about the good and the bad. “If you want to learn about a city from a law enforcement perspective, two things you need to do; you Google the mayor’s name and you Google the chief’s name,” said White.A web search of Denver and police revealed excessive force concerns, especially with multiple arrests caught on camera. White said it doesn’t matter whether or not he believes there’s a perception problem, if the public already thinks there’s one.”To some degree it’s irrelevant if I believe that or not. There is a perception that there is one so that has to be addressed,” said White. “When you talk about the discipline as it relates to the officer, whether it is a reality or whether it is a perception, the bottom line is it’s a problem and it’s a problem that has to be addressed.” MORE
#OccupyMelbourne, Melbourne, Australia 10:41 PM
RELATED: I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you. What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you. It must be painful for the pundits at Fox News. The more they demand that OWS explain itself in simple, Fox-like terms, the more cheerfully they are ignored by the occupiers around the country. As efforts to ridicule the protesters fail, attempts to repurpose the good old days of enemies lists falter; and efforts to demonize the occupiers backfire, polls continue to show that Americans support the protesters and share their goals. The rest of us quickly cottoned on to the fact that the only people who are scared of the “violent mobs” at Occupy Wall Street are the people being paid to call them violent mobs. Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences. While the mainstream media expresses puzzlement and fear at these incomprehensible “protesters” with their oddly well-worded “signs,” the rest of us see our own concerns reflected back at us and understand perfectly. MORE
BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Still catching up on many of the event films as the Philadelphia Film Festival moves into its second week. I caught Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, and as a fan was a little underwhelmed, particularly by the underwritten second half. The first half was a treat for the director’s fans, bringing together another stellar cast including, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Udo Kier, John Hurt, Alexander and Stellan Skarsgard as father and son and the sad-eyed Kirstin Dunst for a wedding scene to rival The Deer Hunter. The second post-wedding act may have seemed short on incident but the film’s final planet-destroying imagery does seem like some Spielberg-esque imagery for the ages. I was again charmed by Finnish cobbler of fables, Aki Kaurismaki and his latest Le Havre. Kaurismaki’s love of grizzled losers remains unchanged although the tale of a French shoeshine man recruiting his neighborhood to hide an African immigrant boy brings a new multi-cultural cast to his humanist comedy. The wild-haired senior citizen rocker Little Bob (playing himself) is the sort of sincere spectacle yearned for but rarely delivered in modern film. I also caught The F.P., a spoof of 80’s action/fantasy from Jason and Brandon Trout. Jason plays Jtro, dressed up with an eye-patch like Snake Plissken, he roams the post-apocalyptic landscape. Occasionally he battles rival gangs, their shared choice of competition being those “Dance Dance Revolution” video arcade games. The charm of the goofy premise lasted for a bit, I liked all the Rocky-esque training sequences, but finally the endless white gangsta dialogue and the mean-spirited “ho” humor at the expense of the film’s female lead (poor Caitlyn Folley) wore past “bad boy” humor into something more pathological. Besides, too much of the dancing is shot from the chest up, I’m not convinced Jason Trout is the “Dance Dance Revolution” champ of Kern County, let alone the post-apocalyptic world. Before we get to our picks for the coming week, let me remind you that The Philadelphia Film Festival is marking the 20th anniversary of the Coen Brothers’ masterful Barton Fink with a 9:55 PM screening at the Ritz 5 on Sunday.
Director Tiffiny Shlain is the daughter of author Leonard Shlain, a brain surgeon who wrote three books looking at how brain chemistry effected our relationship to the environment. Tiffany, best known for founding the internet’s ”Webby Awards” translates some of her dad’s theories about The Enlightenment’s “Left Brain” imbalances into a scattered, factoid-driven film. Her “everything is connected” philosophy gets a little “T.M.I.” in practice, with Shlain’s fertility and her father’s bout with brain cancer somehow revolving into the story’s forefront, while the fate of our species becomes a semi-important subplot. Shlain establishes how our on-line lives are over-stimulating us, then crafts an ADD-addled film that is over-stuffed with superfluous stock footage to illustrate every concept and figure of speech (do we really need to see turn-of-the-century leaping maidens every time a scientific leap in mentioned?) Fascinating and facile ideas are briefly thrown on the table and ignored, with the final effect being more like a distracted surf across Google links than a coherent documentary. Thursday November 3, 7:45pm, Ritz East
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THE DESTINY OF LESSER ANIMALS (2011, directed by Deron Albright, 89 minutes, Ghana)
Actor and screenwriter Yao B. Nunoo is Boniface, a police inspector in modern Ghana who is in search of his forged passport, stolen before he could use it to return to the U.S. The passport’s trail leads to a series of violent crimes that Boniface investigates with the help of the affable and world-weary Inspector Darko (Fred Nii Amugi). Directed and co-written by St. Joe’s professor and Fulbright Fellowship awardee Deron Albright, Destiny of Lesser Animals is moderately involving as a policier, with its story tipping off questions of national identity for Boniface, who is eager to abandon his country to pursue success abroad. But if the cop element is somewhat mundane, the rarely-seen atmosphere of modern Ghana elevates the film beyond it formulaic premise, with lead actor Nunoo giving a deep, top-flight performance as the desperate and conflicted Boniface. Sunday October 30, 7:30pm, International House & Thursday November 3, 7:30pm, Ritz East
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HOSPITALITE (2011, directed by Koji Fukada, 95 minutes, Japan)
Well-crafted little comedy of manners with an unassuming performance by Keji Yamaguchi as the bedeviled Mikio. Mikio inherited his father’s tiny printing business and he enjoys a pleasantly mundane existence with his younger wife until he hires the endlessly presumptuous Kagawa (Kanji Furatachi). With a mix of comedy and dread, Kagawa unearths all the dirty secrets and hidden desires of the family, moving himself and his Brazilian wife into their apartment and hiring workers without notice. The physical action is carefully plotted, as Mikio’s skinny little shop forces the characters to constantly squeeze past each other, seemingly afraid to exhale and spill the secrets they’re barely hiding. Sunday Oct. 30, 7:20pm, Ritz East & Thursday Nov 3, 9:50pm, Ritz East
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Legendary social justice activist Angela Davis will be addressing #OccupPhilly at 9:15 PM tonight at Dilworth Plaza. All are welcome.
WIKIPEDIA: Angela Davis (born January 26, 1944) is an American political activist, scholar, and author. Davis was most politically active during the late 1960s through the 1970s and was associated with the Communist Party USA, the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party. Prisoner rights have been among her continuing interests; she is the founder of “Critical Resistance“, an organization working to abolish the “prison-industrial complex“. She is a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is the former director of the university’s Feminist Studies department. Her research interests are in feminism, African American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music and social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. Her membership in the Communist Party led to Ronald Reagan‘s request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at any university in the State of California. She was tried and acquitted of suspected involvement in the Soledad brothers‘ August 1970 abduction and murder of Judge Harold Haley in Marin County, California. […]In 1972, she was tried and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The fact that she owned the guns used in the crime was judged not sufficient to establish her responsibility for the plot. Her experience as a prisoner in the US played a key role in convincing her to fight against the “prison industrial complex” that exists in the US. John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded their song “Angela” on their 1972 album Some Time In New York City in support. The Jazz musician Todd Cochran, also known as Bayete, recorded his song “Free Angela (Thoughts…and all I’ve got to say)” that same year. The Rolling Stones recorded the song “Sweet Black Angel” on their 1972 album Exile on Main Street.