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WORTH REPEATING: American Hustle

Monday, January 29th, 2018

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THE ATLANTIC: Shortly before the announcement of his job inside Trump’s campaign, Manafort touched base with former colleagues to let them know of his professional return. He exuded his characteristic confidence, but they surprised him with doubts and worries. Throughout his long career, Manafort had advised powerful men—U.S. senators and foreign supreme commanders, imposing generals and presidents-for-life. He’d learned how to soothe them, how to bend their intransigent wills with his calmly delivered, diligently researched arguments. But Manafort simply couldn’t accept the wisdom of his friends, advice that he surely would have dispensed to anyone with a history like his own—the imperative to shy away from unnecessary attention.

His friends, like all Republican political operatives of a certain age, could recite the legend of Paul Manafort, which they did with fascination, envy, and occasional disdain. When Manafort had arrived in Washington in the 1970s, the place reveled in its shabby glories, most notably a self-satisfied sense of high duty. Wealth came in the form of Georgetown mansions, with their antique imperfections and worn rugs projecting power so certain of itself, it needn’t shout. But that old boarding-school establishment wasn’t Manafort’s style. As he made a name for himself, he began to dress differently than the Brooks Brothers crowd on K Street, more European, with funky, colorful blazers and collarless shirts. If he entertained the notion, say, of moving his backyard swimming pool a few feet, nothing stopped him from the expense. Colleagues, amused by his sartorial quirks and his cosmopolitan lifestyle, referred to him as “the Count of Monte Cristo.”

His acts of rebellion were not merely aesthetic. Manafort rewrote the rules of his adopted city. In the early ’80s, he created a consulting firm that ignored the conventions that had previously governed lobbying. When it came to taking on new clients, he was uninhibited by moral limits. In 2016, his friends might not have known the specifics of his Cyprus accounts, all the alleged off-the-books payments to him captured in Cyrillic ledgers in Kiev. But they knew enough to believe that he could never sustain the exposure that comes with running a presidential campaign in the age of opposition research and aggressive media. “The risks couldn’t have been more obvious,” one friend who attempted to dissuade him from the job told me. But in his frayed state, these warnings failed to register.

When Paul Manafort officially joined the Trump campaign, on March 28, 2016, he represented a danger not only to himself but to the political organization he would ultimately run. A lifetime of foreign adventures didn’t just contain scandalous stories, it evinced the character of a man who would very likely commandeer the campaign to serve his own interests, with little concern for the collective consequences.

Over the decades, Manafort had cut a trail of foreign money and influence into Washington, then built that trail into a superhighway. When it comes to serving the interests of the world’s autocrats, he’s been a great innovator. His indictment in October after investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleges money laundering, false statements, and other acts of personal corruption. (He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.) But Manafort’s role in Mueller’s broader narrative remains carefully guarded, and unknown to the public. And his personal corruption is less significant, ultimately, than his lifetime role as a corrupter of the American system. That he would be accused of helping a foreign power subvert American democracy is a fitting coda to his life’s story. MORE

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GRAMMYS: Local Boys Make Good

Monday, January 29th, 2018



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From The Dept. Of Why We Still Love Rock N’ Roll

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

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CINEMA: The Dresser

Friday, January 26th, 2018


THE PHANTOM THREAD (dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson, 130 min., USA, 2018)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC After more or less going dark for three years, Paul Thomas Anderson returns to the silver screen with Phantom Thread, his follow up to 2014’s Inherent Vice, which reunites him with Daniel Day-Lewis for what reportedly will be the famously enigmatic actor’s final film role. Much like The Master, Phantom Thread is an evocative exploration of the ever-shifting power dynamics of dysfunctional relationships in Post-War period dress. But in stark contrast to sprawling American epics like There Will Be Blood and The Master, Phantom is a much more up-close-and-personal affair, showcasing the mesmerizing big screen magnetism that makes Day-Lewis one of the most arresting and intensely-committed actors of the last 40 years. And like its star, it is quintessentially, indelibly English: drafty, prim and cobblestoned.

Set in post-World War II London’s Haute Couture fashion scene, Phantom stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the illustrious dressmaker and confirmed bachelor Reynolds Woodcock, who along with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) run the House of Woodcock. Responsible for dressing royals, film stars, heiresses and boozy socialites, Reynolds is constantly on the lookout for a new muse/model/live-in GF to inspire and inhabit his lavish creations. When the film begins Reynolds has just parted ways with his latest companion and makes fast work of finding a replacement in the mousy, decades-younger waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). After ordering a hearty breakfast that could easily feed a small family, Reynolds earns the pet name “Hungry Boy” on his first date with the young woman, who, we will soon learn, isn’t quite as meek as she lets on. As Alma is swept into Reynolds’ fussy orbit, she quickly proves herself a force to be reckoned and over time her willful refusal to be subsumed by the House of Woodcock begins to tear at the seams of Reynolds’ meticulously-curated life.

Jonny Greenwood’s exquisite score animates this dance of wills, the furies and the languors, all of which is rendered indelible by Paul Thomas Anderson’s breathtakingly gorgeous cinematography. For Phantom, Anderson returns to the 70mm format that gave The Master its widescreen scope, but by largely confining it to the claustrophobic interiors of Woodcock’s Georgian townhouse he achieves a vaguely unsettling Kubrick-ian density. (And yes, Mr. Anderson, we caught the nod to A Clockwork Orange in that shot-from-the-hood careening country drive at the beginning of the film.) Never one to shy away from going big, Day-Lewis gives a much more nuanced performance than we’ve come to expect from him, one that relies more on subtlest of facial cues to portray the quiet riot of emotions that accompanies his stormy courtship of Alma. That magnificent forehead of his is a vast canvas of muted furrows and frowns and worry lines that suddenly come alive only to fall right back to sleep. Krieps, who can blush on cue, manages to more than hold her own with the master thespian. Her deceptively doe-eyed take on the young woman — who manages, with an unexpected deviousness, to turn the tables on the relentlessly controlling, never unplugging and emotionally stingy Reynolds — is an utter joy to watch unfold on screen.

Anderson’s keen eye for granular, ultra-vivid cinematic detail is in full effect, his camera whirls and pirouettes around Reynold’s flowing creations, which are themselves mini-symphonies of elegantly sloping lines and shimmering hues. The film explores not only how dresses are made and sold, but also the drama between houses and their namesake designers. A quiet storm of a man, Woodcock unleashes his flamboyant fury on anyone that disrespects his house or violates the monastic quiet within. Woodcock’s creations have a simplicity and grace that may be lost on our time, but costume designer Mark Bridges makes the dresses almost feel like characters unto themselves. All of this, coupled with Day-Lewis’ Deep Method take on the dressmaker as the consummate artist — for better or for worse —  renders resistance to slipping under the film’s spell nearly impossible. As such, Phantom Thread is a triumphant valedictory send off for Daniel Day-Lewis, a tragicomic love letter to the agonies and ecstasies of the artist and those unlucky enough to fall in love with one.

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IN MEMORIAM: Mark E. Smith Of The Fall

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

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BY BRIAN W. MURRAY By the time I came to The Fall they were already well established as (post-) punk iconoclasts, their unique brand of contrarian, literate sonic terrorism already highly regarded by musos-in-the-know, of whom I knew virtually none. They surfaced late-night in my bland suburban adolescent realm in the form of the new video for “New Big Prinz,” an immediate classic amidst their dizzyingly vast output.

I remember it being, well, orange.

Steve Hanley’s throbbing, pulverizing bass line heralded their trademark relentlessness. Over the piledriver rhythm, Craig Scanlon’s jagged, cascading guitar somehow meshed with Brix Smith’s incongruous jangle-pop-strum into a vertiginous whirl. Avant-garde dancer Michael Clark pranced and pirouetted in an Elvis-emblazoned denim jacket and fright-wig, with, um, crutches. Over, under, sideways, and down through the din of tightly wound chaos, a shag-headed, speed-gaunt bloke ranted in an impenetrable nasal Northern drawl, barking about long draughts, rockin’ records, and not being appreciated. This was, I would soon learn, the hip priest: Mark E. Smith.

What the fuck was going on here, anyway?

Arty, arcane, uncanny, mesmerizing — it was everything I wanted that I didn’t know I wanted yet. I didn’t even know if I liked it. Was it brilliant? Stupid? Inane? Were they insane? Was it art? Did it even matter? Just listen to that riff!

I was hooked.

Utterly unlike anything else, it was a fantastical exit portal out of my restless teenage doldrums. Thus Mark Smith of The Fallbegan for me, and a fiendish cult of disparate but like-minded souls, a lifelong devotion to the strange and wonderful world of The Fall.

After obsessing over the latest in a seemingly endless stream of Fall records, everything else became increasingly, hopelessly uninteresting. Searching for lyrical clues, you’d be confounded as to just what MES was on about, as the LP sleeves only deepened the mystery of Smith’s inscrutable word salad in a Burroughsian cut-up collage puzzle: his word/image virus was contagious. Time-travel tropes, Lovecraftian psychic horror, Nietzschean cosmic pessimism, anti-rockist tirades, Huxleyan mind-warps, exploding pop-culture gas-bags, bawdy dancehall rave-ups… like peering into the eyeholes of Duchamp’s Étant donnés through an eccentrically skewed lens onto the savage and grotesque history of the British Empire.

A starkly sarcastic, self-styled intellectual in working-class drag, MES would mock fellow Mancunians The Smiths (no relation) for posing in front of the Salford Lads’ Club, a place they’d be summarily laughed out of by his dad’s builder/plumber mates. Smith’s cognitive rigor seemed to maintain a stubborn dignity like a shield to deflect the insipid pop onslaught of the boring, uninteresting, mundane, unoriginal, and, worst of all, the obvious. This was typified by his disdain for the ambitions of musicians, either amateur or trained, insisting on referring to The Fall as not a “band,” but as a “group.”

In the immortal words of John Peel when describing his favorite group (not band), The Fall were “always different, always the same.”

Til now.



BWM, 1/24/18

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018



FRESH AIR: The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday, and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s film Phantom Thread landed six nominations, including best director and best picture. Set in 1950s London, Phantom Thread stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a renowned fashion designer who makes gowns for wealthy women and royalty. Anderson — whose previous film credits include There Will Be Blood, Magnolia and Boogie Nights — says his latest film was inspired, in part, by iconic designers like Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga. “They’re known to be the most obsessive of obsessives,” Anderson says. “The relationship that they have to their clients was a really rich venue. It kind of lent itself to something very dramatic.” Anderson was especially intrigued by a photograph of Dior in a workroom of women dressed in white coats. “That, visually and dramatically, was really a great venue for our story,” he says. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Magnolia’: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Absorbing Mosaic of Compassion, Humanity and the Importance of Forgiveness

PREVIOUSLY: ‘There Will Be Blood’: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Epic Take on American Identity with Day-Lewis’ Performance of a Lifetime

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Boogie Nights’: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Priceless 155-Minute Film School

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018



FRESH AIR: If watching President Trump and listening to American political discourse these days makes you feel something’s gone wrong, our guests today will tell you it’s not your imagination. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent years studying what makes democracies healthy and what leads to their collapse. And they see signs that American democracy is in trouble.

In a new book, they argue that Trump has shown authoritarian tendencies and that many players in American politics are discarding long-held norms that have kept our political rivalries in balance and prevented the kind of bitter conflict that can lead to a repressive state. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt are both professors of government at Harvard University. Levitsky’s research focuses on Latin America and the developing world. Ziblatt studies Europe from the 19th century to the present. Their new book is called “How Democracies Die.”

Well, Stephen Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt, welcome to FRESH AIR. You know, you write that some democracies die in a hail of gunfire. There’s a military coup. The existing leaders are imprisoned or sometimes shot. Not – this is not the kind of death of a democracy that you think is most relevant to our purposes. What’s a more typical or meaningful scenario? MORE

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RIP: South African Trumpeter Hugh Masekela, The Man Who Blew Freedom’s Horn, Dead At 78

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018



NEW YORK TIMES: The next year he joined Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) and four other upstart instrumentalists in the Jazz Epistles, South Africa’s first bebop band of note. With a heavy, driving pulse and warm, arcing melodies, their music was distinctly South African, even as its swing rhythms and flittering improvisations reflected affinities with American jazz.

“There had never been a group like the Epistles in South Africa,” Mr. Masekela said in his 2004 autobiography, “Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela,” written with D. Michael Cheers. “Our tireless energy, complex arrangements, tight ensemble play, languid slow ballads and heart-melting, hymnlike dirges won us a following, and soon we were breaking all attendance records in Cape Town.”

The group recorded just one album, which was printed in a run of 500 and eventually became a kind of Holy Grail for collectors. After the so-called Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960, in which 69 protesters were killed by police officers in a township outside Johannesburg, the government banned public gatherings of more than 10 black people. This forced groups like the Jazz Epistles to take their performances underground; Mr. Masekela and Mr. Ibrahim soon chose to leave the country.

In 1960, Mr. Masekela moved briefly to London, where he studied at the Guildhall School of Music, before the singers Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba helped him secure a scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music. He studied classical trumpet there for four years.

In 1962, he recorded his debut album, “Trumpet Africaine,” for the Mercury label. He followed it in 1964 with “Grrr,” also on Mercury. That album — which featured the trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, a veteran of the Jazz Epistles who had also relocated to New York — included a number of Masekela originals that reflected his devotion to his musical roots. On tunes like “Sharpeville,” the effortless churn of the rhythms and the thrumming harmonies reflected the influence of marabi, an instrumental style developed in the early 20th century by workers in the townships outside Johannesburg. […]

In 1964, Mr. Masekela and Stewart Levine, a fellow student at the Manhattan School, established the independent label Chisa, named for the Zulu word for “burn.” The two would remain lifelong collaborators and friends. The label struck gold in 1968 when Mr. Masekela released the album “The Promise of a Future,” featuring “Grazing in the Grass.” With a sanguine two-chord hook, the song registered as a beatific ode to summer; it was released in May and hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in mid-July. MORE

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SMUS: The Sh*tholing Of The American Presidency

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY No doubt this nation does need to be made “great,” (as if we were ever really and truly “great,” but I will grant you that our WWII participation and follow-up Marshall Plan SMUSachievements were exemplary exceptions) but for reasons you are about to be made fully aware of, I am extremely reluctant to add the word “again” to any such plea, plan or plaudit. One thing we surely DO NOT need — nor should we EVER become dependent upon — is a bigoted, racist, Russia-hugging, Nazi/fascist-embracing, thieving, bankruptcy reliant, altogether phony, traitorous, money laundering, pathologically lying, petulantly immature, deadbeat, con artist degenerate like Donald J. Trump to lead us toward such a virtuous and honorable goal. What’s that you say? It has only been a year so far. Give him a chance. Well … bullshit! How ’bout I begin by pointing out a few pertinent “facts” that he is obviously: a) totally ignorant of, b) would much prefer to ignore, c) tries his idiotic best to obfuscate, d) totally lies about, belittles, sluffs off or laughs away, e) stuffs under the Oval Office rug, or f) blames everyone and everything but himself for; all of which constantly spews forth from a mouth that so often doubles as an asshole or urethra.

It’s probably best to kick this American “greatness” stuff off back around 1492 — which, by the way, European revisionist historians like to plug as the beginning of “real” American time — there were some 10,000,000 native Americans inhabiting the land mass we now call the United States of America. By 1900 there were believed to be about 300,000 left. What happened to the “difference?” WE KILLED THEM, period! That is correct, folks. We starved them to death, we literally “walked” them to death, we “infected” them to death, and we just plain shot and stabbed them to death! OVER 9 MILLION native Americans! By contrast, the Nazis murdered some 6 million Jews and others. If you’d like to learn more, I invite you to read, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown; Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria Jr.; or perhaps the finest book ever written on the subject, The Earth Shall Weep by James Wilson.

And let us never forget the literally hundreds of thousands of innocent lives this country has sacrificed in the name of “America’s best ‘corporate’ and ‘financial’ interests.” This holier-than-thou country of ours has supported, encouraged, and even installed, tyrannical butchering dictatorships in no less than 35 countries from 1945 to the present day. For God’s sake, this kind of detestable behavior is literally imbedded in America’s political DNA! Trump says he wants to make America great “again.” Are you kidding?! Hell, we’ve been acting in our own selfish “greatest” corporate and financial interests regardless of the human toll and consequences for the past 75 years! If you have any doubts as to the veracity of this paragraph, I suggest you do a little independent research of your own. The truth may not set you free from this moral degenerate in the White House and his American “greatness” rebuilding delusions, but it should damn well alter your moral compass a bit if you possess even a shred of human decency.

Oh yeah, did I mention our shameful if not altogether disgusting (and in many cases downright deadly) policies regarding some 750,000 folks who were originally brought to this country through no fault or choice of their own and have lived exemplary American lives (as in having regularly paid taxes, having diligently educated themselves, having honorably contributed to their communities, having maintained superlative employment histories, and never having garnered so much as a traffic ticket) ever since?! That’s right, folks, we currently have a piece of that proverbial “shit” as president (I simply can’t bring myself to capitalizing the term for him) who would prefer to destroy the lives of decent, upstanding, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons rather than concentrate ALL of our I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency) resources on rounding up and deporting those who damn well deserve to be kicked the hell out of this country! But, that would require some truly honest and discerning effort, some real courage, some real honor, some real “greatness” on our part!

Finally (well, not really, because when this piece is completed I will have only begun to scratch the surface of the repellent transgressions haunting the past and present histories of this “great” nation of ours), in January of 2017 a moronic degenerate was officially installed as president of this “great” nation. Turns out he had amassed 3 MILLION FEWER popular votes than his opponent. Not 3 HUNDRED fewer, not 3 THOUSAND fewer, not even 3 HUNDRED THOUSAND fewer! Are you ready for this? The actual figure is 3 MILLION FEWER!!! How could something like that happen in this so-called “greatest democracy on the face of the earth,” you ask???!!! The answer is a disgusting American “election” travesty called the Electoral College. Check it out. It’s a classic example of American political “shit,” folks, and universes away from what you would expect from the so-called “greatest” democracy the world has ever known!!!

In that same vein, let me ask you a question: do you think that in a “great democracy,” one that prides itself in having engendered and championed the idea of “one man/one vote”, that an essentially all white voting block of some 575,000 (the state of Wyoming) should be able to exercise the exact same degree of political power within our government as say a completely racially and ethnically mixed voting block of some 40 MILLION (the state of California)? Well, that’s exactly how things work in America’s most august and venerable governing body, the United States Senate! Yessiree, it’s essentially that same “magnanimous” concept (remember the Electoral College bullshit?) that made a lying, thieving, traitorous, degenerate, narcissistic, blithering idiot the president of the “great” United States of America!

So, when you take all of that into account, plus the fact that it took until December 18, 1865 to rid this “great” nation of slavery; and until August 18th, 1920 for women in this “great” nation to obtain the right to vote; and that America ranks no better than 16th worldwide in education, and 37th among 190 countries worldwide in healthcare; and that our poverty situation is way, way beyond contemptible and unconscionable, you begin to understand that this so-called “great” nation of ours has hardly progressed beyond the “g” in the word. But, lest you are thinking about completely giving up on this rather mediocre country, you should know that there are two things that it is INDEED unsurpassed at: a) building contraptions to blow people up, and b) actually blowing people up with them. According to the latest figures, we spend about 570 BILLION DOLLAR$ on “defense” (and even that obscene figure is vastly underestimated because this country has so many phony, secret budgets that the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security are awash in so much money that even they don’t know what the annual grand total is or how to keep track of it). The next in line, China, spends about 191 Billion; and the United Kingdom, number 3, spends about 67 Billion. Little ole Russia is 4th with about 54 Billion. That’s right, folks, America spends (as published but not in truth or actuality) nearly as much money on that all-encompassing term “security” as the next three in line COMBINED! And, of course, NOBODY wants to talk much anymore about the ATROCIOUS HUMAN CARNAGE and TRILLIONS$ UPON TRILLION$ OF DOLLAR$ we’ve blown, and CONTINUE to blow, in Iraq and Afghanistan!!!

Stop for a moment and imagine how many fewer homeless and mentally ill individuals, children, and families there might be if we could have dedicated more resources to their health, feeding, clothing and shelter; how many fewer jobless there might be if we could have dedicated more resources to education and retraining; how much more adequate, safer and functional the infrastructure of this country might be if we could have devoted more resources to its construction, rebuilding and repair; how much further along our research into “incurable” diseases might have progressed if we’d had the additional financial resources to devote to their conquering. So, I leave you with the following query: Is it not evident that presidential assholes who preside over glass-enclosed shitholes should be extremely wary of throwing racist and bigoted stones?!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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TELEVISION: Fare Thee Well, Portlandia

Friday, January 19th, 2018



PHAWKER: The people quoted in the below article are humorless bores richly deserving the parody they bitch about. Their comments only reinforce the necessity of the show’s humor.

WILLAMETTE WEEKLY: The first time I saw Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen together in the same place, it wasn’t on television or YouTube or in a magazine.

It was at a ping-pong tournament.

Specifically, the Ping Pong Pandemonium Party at Holocene in June 2010. My predecessors on the WW music desk were participating, so I came to show support. Brownstein teamed with her Sleater-Kinney bandmate Janet Weiss and won the whole thing, beating members of Starfucker in the finals.

Armisen—then most famous for portraying Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live—was also hanging out. I hadn’t yet heard of Thunderant, his sketch duo with Brownstein, so it wasn’t obvious to me why he was there.

A few months later, a press release went out announcing a new show satirizing Portland culture.

“Well,” I thought, thinking back to that ping-pong party, “this thing will write itself.”

A few months after that, it was on TV. Nothing was ever the same. And everyone’s still pissed about it.

Seven years later, Portlandia is finally ending. The sentiment around town, at least among anyone who lived here prior to its premiere, is “good riddance.”

It’s an exhausted cliché at this point, but it’s not an exaggeration: Portland truly believes Portlandia destroyed Portland as we once knew it. In 2015, we half-jokingly conducted a poll trying to determine the exact date when “Old Portland” supposedly died. Readers overwhelmingly chose January 21, 2011—the day Portlandia premiered on IFC.

Somehow, this little sketch show on an obscure cable network portraying Portland as a fantasyland of socially awkward liberal narcissists convinced the whole world to move here, driving up rents, clogging the freeways and replacing your favorite dive bar with an artisanal knot store. It misrepresented the city, then those misrepresentations became reality. They paved paradise and put a bird on it.

At least, that’s the theory.

Nobody necessarily worried about this happening when the show first started. It’s a misnomer to say the city was ever totally on-board with Portlandia, but the reasons for being wary of it were different—mostly, we just didn’t like being made fun of. MORE

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GEEK SQUAD: When Ben Franklin Cucked Strange

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Ben Franklin Dr. Strange


SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY: This is Doctor Strange (v2) #018 from 1976. After a brief sojourn through time, Strange and Clea encounter Ben Franklin. Strange proceeds ahead and leaves Clea and Franklin in each other’s company. The randy old goat then proceeds to seduce Clea. MORE

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INJUSTICE: The Inky’s Dirty War On Larry Krassner

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018


IN JUSTICE TODAY: It didn’t take too much deliberation for the Philadelphia Inquirer to render its guilty verdict against District Attorney Larry Krasner after he took office on January 2: “the first days of Krasner’s administration,” the editorial board intoned nine days later, “seem more about imprudence than jurisprudence”

Zing. A rhyme. But what does it all mean? Well, Krasner swiftly ousted 31 prosecutors who packed up their desks along with others who had resigned on their own accord before he took office. Last year, Krasner, a career civil rights and defense attorney, rode a surge of grassroots organizing to a shocking win, promising to turn the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office upside down and take concrete steps to end mass incarceration.

What’s surprising to me, first of all, is all the Inky’s surprise: What should be remarkable is that Krasner fired such a small number, judging the vast majority of people in an office of roughly three hundred prosecutors to be ready to head in a very different direction under his new leadership — a direction in which he plans to leaven the conventional pursuit of punishment with a more holistic conception of public safety and well-being.

The Inquirer’s editorial board, however, shrouded its opposition to the firings (which were actually pointed requests to resign) with criticism of the way in which they were orchestrated. Echoing reporting from the paper, they complained that “victims of crimes, witnesses and people accused, along with judges and defense attorneys, were left in a lurch in city courtrooms when prosecutors expected to play their part in our criminal justice system were suddenly yanked from those roles, with no replacements ready.”

At least two different stories in the paper highlighted a murder case that was delayed because veteran prosecutor Andrew Notaristefano was pushed out, with one story citing the emotional toll the delay caused for the victim’s family. No doubt: lengthy trials are painful for victims’ families, and the paper is right to tell their stories. But context is important and hard to find in the coverage: trials are delayed all the time, often at the request of prosecutors. It’s worth considering, then, why this one delay has dominated the paper’s coverage of Krasner’s extremely short tenure, and why stories about the many Philadelphians who have had their lives ripped apart by mass incarceration and police brutality — and what they might be hoping for from the new district attorney — have been absent.

The paper’s reporting — “Last week’s shakeup and the new appointments added to the impression — and in some corners, hope — that Krasner, a career civil rights lawyer, would drastically reshape the office and its priorities” — turns reality on its head, portraying their own reactionary position as the majority one prevailing in the city. In some corners? The paper has yet to accept that their position, which is also the position of the city’s criminal justice establishment, was thoroughly repudiated at the ballot box. MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: The Day Martin Luther King Had To Explain To His Daughter Yolanda That Little ‘Colored’ Girls Are Not Allowed To Go To Funtown

Monday, January 15th, 2018



PLAYBOY: Dr. King, are your children old enough to be aware of the issues at stake in the civil rights movement, and of your role in it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Yes, they are—especially my oldest child, Yolanda. Two years ago, I remember, I returned home after serving one of my terms in the Albany, Georgia, jail, and she asked me, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” I told her that I was involved in a struggle to make conditions better for the colored people, and thus for all people. I explained that because things are as they are, someone has to take a stand, that it is necessary for someone to go to jail, because many Southern officials seek to maintain the barriers that have historically been erected to exclude the colored people. I tried to make her understand that someone had to do this to make the world better—for all children. She was only six at that time, but she was already aware of segregation because of an experience that we had had.

PLAYBOY: Would you mind telling us about it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Not at all. The family often used to ride with me to the Atlanta airport, and on our way, we always passed Funtown, a sort of miniature Disneyland with mechanical rides and that sort of thing. Yolanda would inevitably say, “I want to go to Funtown,” and I would always evade a direct reply. I really didn’t know how to explain to her why she couldn’t go. Then one day at home, she ran downstairs exclaiming that a TV commercial was urging people to come to Funtown. Then my wife and I had to sit down with her between us and try to explain it. I have won some applause as a speaker, but my tongue twisted and my speech stammered seeking to explain to my six-year-old daughter why the public invitation on television didn’t include her, and others like her. One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her that Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized that at that moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky, that at that moment her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. It was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her. But it was of paramount importance to me that she not grow up bitter. So I told her that although many white people were against her going to Funtown, there were many others who did want colored children to go. It helped somewhat. Pleasantly, word came to me later that Funtown had quietly desegregated, so I took Yolanda. A number of white persons there asked, “Aren’t you Dr. King, and isn’t this your daughter?” I said we were, and she heard them say how glad they were to see us there. MORE

DAILY KOS: I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech. My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.” Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about. […] It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus. You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people. White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which MLK ABERNATHY MUG SHOTcould be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone. So what did they do? They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down. Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed. If we do it all together, we’ll be okay. They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms fredshuttlesworthmuglargeand take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad. Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened? These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail. That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. MORE

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