Photo by Doug Cawker
From the desk of Jake Austen…
I was researching a cartoon I saw the other night at the Hammer museum and I read that after ABC lost NFL rights a few years back ABC/Disney traded broadcaster Al Michaels to NBC/Universal for the rights to Oswald the Rabbit, the Disney character that preceded/ turned into Mickey Mouse. I thought that was cute trivia and somehow linked to this amazing thread where an intellectual rights attorney/Disney fan is explaining how this "swap" was probably a public relations hoax to mask the fact that Oswald is unquestionably in the public domain. What is great about this lengthy thread is that the lawyer knows what he's talking about and meticulously and in simple terms breaks down the complexities of copyright law as it pertains to characters and stories and films and comics, clarifying many of the well-known cases (It's A Wonderful Life, Ghostbusters/Casper the Ghost, etc.). Many of the Disney fans respond intelligently and pose thoughtful questions that he answers but two posters are really defensive and keep attacking him and saying stupid things, which leads to the lawyer offering spot-on examples of Disney's scary bullying concerning copyright/trademark stuff related to their properties, and linking to articles and Wikipedia pages that make all this stuff very clear. It should be annoying that the dissenters are so dense, and blindly loyal to Disney (at one point the lawyer notes that they act like Mickey is the CEO), but they keep yielding more interesting stuff. And how often does someone on the internet actually know what they're talking about?
Note: There are references in this to a forthcoming video game where Disney will re-brand Mickey as a badass who fights his way through a wasteland inhabited by archival characters like Oswald the Rabbit.
Also note: There are references to dirt concerning Walt Disney and his collaborator Ub Iwerks as to who actually created Mickey. Below are some links to Ub Iwerks' cartoons made after he jumped or was pushed from Disney and before he returned some years later to prep the special effects necessary to make the first animated features.
The Early period: Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists, etc.
Newman’s Laugh-O-Grams (1921, Kansas City, Mo.)
Alice’s Spooky Adventure (1924, Los Angeles, M. Winkler)
1st Mickey Mouse: “Plane Crazy” (1928, Disney)
Flip the Frog: “Fiddlesticks” (1930, Celebrity-MGM)
Willie Whopper: The Air Race (1933, MGM)
Willie Whopper: Stratos Fear (1933, MGM)
The Headless Horseman (1934, ComiColor)
Summertime (1935, ComiColor)
Little Black Sambo (1935, ComiColor)
The Old Mill (1937, Disney)
(Fotopoulos: Iwerks’ multi-plane camera was improved on by Disney techs and tested here before its use on features; Iwerks returned to Disney in 1940.)
[Iwerks drawing by James Fotopoulos]
The other big cartoon power, Max and Dave Fleischer:
Koko the Clown’s Earth Control (1928, Inkwell)
Betty Boop in Snow White (1933, Fleischer)
(Fotopoulos: early use of rotoscoping)
From the desk of Chris Collins...
further SST lore
SST Records has its roots in a small business called Solid State Tuners, owned and operated by Greg Ginn, which in the 1970s built equipment for amateur radio buffs. Black Flag/SST fan Jonathan Haynes, himself a radio operator and builder, had the savvy to snap these two shots of one tuner he encountered, the T-1.
In an email correspondence, he offers a radioman's view of a piece of SST electronics.
Would you permit us to use those two shots of the tuners for a coming issue? We would credit you and link to your photostream or any website you have.
Joe says they had a few of them around the office when he was working at SST in the early eighties. I suppose they might pop up on ebay once in a blue moon.
Are they your tuners? Any story on how you happened upon them?
Re: SST Tuners
Of course. They do pop up on Ebay fairly often. The T-1 all the way through something like T-7 are used all over the world by shortwave listeners and radio operators who appreciate old equipment. Ginn responded to an email that this was a relic, and that he didn't see them often.
Re: SST Tuners
Jonathan, much obliged to you. So I guess that tuner must be mid-70s or so, right? I don't know anything about ham radio but it looks like a bone simple device.
Re: SST Tuners
It's a simple device, but elegant in its simplicity. They do the job.
The tuner basically just makes a piece of antenna wire that you've strung up--it tunes it so that the radio can transmit on that frequency. It adapts different wires to your radio so you don't need to physically trim the length of the wire to resonance on your frequency of interest.
I don't know why Ginn didn't stay in the business, but that's how it worked out, I guess. I can't find his callsign, but I guess he resides in Taylor TX now. I assume he is no longer active with radio.
Re: SST Tuners
My dad learned radio in the Signal Corps in the 50s and had an array of tuners and antennas at our house in LA. I don't recall a ham radio but there was a CB; I guess because ham requires a license? Unfortunately I never picked up his knowledge.
There was a book* about Black Flag which speculated that the origin of Ginn's guitar style is in radio. It's like a tuner caught between two signals. That always struck me as unique about him. The only other player I've heard who sometimes seemed to be pulling in two directions at once was Coltrane.
A lot of 20th century avant garde music seems to have one foot in staticky electronic communications.
[ *James Parker: Turned On]
Re: SST Tuners
Ginn also seemed obsessed with nasally midrange frequencies. I was impressed with his difficult tone.
Drawing by James Fotopoulos
From the desk of Joe Carducci…
It will be interesting to observe the behavior at the defense table in the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheik Muhammad. A good test of the justice system and legal profession, although an earlier test just wrapped up as Attorney for Sheik Abdel Rahman, Lynne F. Stewart is going to jail for assisting terrorism; the penalty is just 28 months on paper at least, so what the hell... The Law takes care of its own.
But this new test won’t slide by unnoticed because the second attempt on the WTC worked out differently. In most ways it is our legal system that has broken down, not the health-care system. The courtroom model is fine and necessary in its place, but the prosecutor-defense dynamic can allow each side to be freed of the need to be credible if the judge allows the game-of-it to dominate the goal-of-it. Judges are lawyers and sometimes they look driven by class-consciousness to cause appeals and re-trials -- more likely it's simple free-lance indulgence of their own prerogatives. Who can say? I’m no lawyer.
But the syndrome of this era’s college graduate is self-esteem/pretense and so the limits of the law are not observed. Thomas Sowell calls the goal this fosters “cosmic justice”. This lawyerly politik projects-out the charges they themselves are guilty of. And so there’s a health-care crisis and it’s unsustainable when, in fact, the real problems are traceable back to state interventions going back to the state-lovin’ thirties and the war and its war-time efficiencies. And these good good things all delivered and adjudicated by armies of attorneys. The pricing problems of medicine are the result of two things mostly: the progress of medical treatment and technology, and the backing up of medical practice in defense of a broken tort-system that turns malpractice into a lottery. Certainly there are incompetent, even fraudulent doctors, but those are licensing and criminal issues and aren’t addressed by the proposals, other than the attempt to punish tort-reform states.
There are very few M.D.s in congress (13 or so, Ron Paul most notably), but there are 162 lawyers, and then staffers and lobbyists… thousands and thousands of lawyers… The judge will be named real soon for this trial, probably be on TV.
The Iranian revolution was a leftist revolution followed by an Islamic coup.
Mark Bowden in the WSJ does not mention the Tudeh Party which was the communist party and prepared the ground for the revolution with demonstrations and street stunts they hoped would spread beyond their cadre. Khomeini was still in France. The Islamic clergy was split, but rural believers constituted a third force that perhaps the Tudeh underestimated. Here’s the party line on how the mistake went down:
“The process of the growth of capitalism and its inevitable consequences for the traditional structures of society, endangered the position and professional interests of the clergy. The conservative wing of the clergy who leaned towards the large land owners and the big capitalists, feared the growth of the movement and compromised with the Shah's regime. But the other sections of clergy under the leadership of Khomeini, who were mostly influenced by the petty-bourgeoisie and the commercial bourgeoisie, took an anti-monarch and anti-imperialist (especially American imperialist) position. The struggle of this section of clergy entered a new phase parallel to the growth of the mass movement. In this period Khomeini and his followers worked towards the overthrow of the Shah, which was dominant slogan of the movement. They also took a strong anti-imperialist stance and promised freedom and social justice within the framework of Islamic government. This stance extended the clergy's social position, attracted large masses under the leadership of Khomeini and increased his political credibility. In this way Khomeini managed to acquire the indisputable leadership of the revolution and stand in the centre of the political arena of our country.”
While the commies survived under the Shah, they did not survive under the regime as the provisional secular government was replaced by the Islamic Republic. As Bowden tells it Khomeini took on more for his clerisy than he originally intended. If it's true he hesitated, he may have felt Islamic rule was the one way to debase his own currency and revive royalist sentiment. But the Tudeh might have controlled a secular republic and with the U.S. out of the picture the Soviet Satan was suddenly the pre-eminent threat (the Russian invasion of Afghanistan occurred Dec. 27, 1979, two months after the American embassy and personnel in Tehran were seized, and ten-and-a-half months after the fall of the Shah). Apparently the embassy hostage stand-off was the trigger that doomed the provisional Iranian regime and led to this long, destructive twilight for Iranians. Tuesday’s NYT leads with the dreary details of the police state phase of the revo.
In 1975 I worked at a restaurant in the DePaul area of Chicago that was owned by a hustling Iranian immigrant and his Lebanese-American wife. His three young cooks were Iranian too; there was a religious guy, a homosexual, and a communist, so the revolution might have been fought out right there in that kitchen too for all I know.
EU legislators' accession to power next week brings to mind Byzantium, the second Rome, which is in the air anyway as a new possible model now that the first Rome failed as a model. An FT analysis last Friday focuses on the wimping out over the naming of the first EU President and Foreign Minister, Herman Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton respectively, neither likely to fulfill the mandate to stop traffic in Beijing and Washington. But its actually in the trenches of the legislature that power is drained away from the individual nations, and that needs doing before this slow-growth volunteer-empire finds its Alexius I, or more likely Palaeologus. There’s always the third Rome, Moscow under the Tsars, if Rome-Rome falls again to another Hannibal as Constantinople did to the Turks. But now here’s Walter Laqueur to explore the sure-to-backfire Muslim strategy of the Kremlin to dash that third option.
Or the Ottoman model; Roula Khalaf on the Middle East defaulting back to the former sick man of Europe, now suddenly the new kid in town.
The Ugly American has become the Ugly Chinese. What the Chinese are up to in Africa and elsewhere ought to recalibrate the Orientalist terrors in the hearts of all the heroic Milquetoasts of lit-theory.
Much ado about the G.O.P. in the NYT version of the matter of Kevin Johnson, Michelle Rhee, and AmeriCorps.
My convenience at your convenience in the matter of Climategate.
Chavez, Achmedinejad inspire Peres schtick.
Shackleton’s Whiskey found one century later!
WSJ’s OpinionJournal.com feature on the hypnotic power of the Siren of Alyeska:
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate ObamaCare bills. We'd like to compare this dispatch to the AP's dispatch earlier this week "fact checking" Sarah Palin's new book. Here goes:
Number of AP reporters assigned to story: • ObamaCare bills: 2 • Palin book: 11
Number of pages in document being covered: • ObamaCare bills: 4,064 • Palin book: 432
Number of pages per AP reporter: • ObamaCare bill: 2,032 • Palin book: 39.3
On a per-page basis, that is, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican officeholder as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives. That's what they call accountability journalism.”
And the story untold by anything but the bills due; Robert Samuelson on Age vs Youth.
Really bad rock journalism, or maybe it's criticism or p.r.
The WSJ keeps pushing into culture and generally does okay, though no-one buys it for its music coverage even with Nat Hentoff in there occasionally. But this piece on Tom Petty has that old time gold-plated persecution complex last seen in this pure form back when Dave Marsh was cheerleading the similarly suppressed Bruce Springsteen. (Then it was the Stones or Ramones oppressing Bruce, now it's Bruce or the Stooges suppressing Tom.) This kind of juvenilia was somewhat harder to take back then when a generation or two of greater musicians were being shunted to a dead end spur where they’d have to build their own record business. For the piece’s length there’s still no content such as how grindingly samey the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers live set was for years until Rick Rubin or somebody else convinced him to stow the band and hire as needed for an arrangement that found the song in all that sausage. Then he produced “Free Falling” and a couple more memorable pop hits. The quality of his reunited Mudcrutch or the Traveling Wilburys shamed his earlier career. Who is it who cares that two out of three experts prefer the Stooges, Tom or the WSJ’s John Jurgensen?
The NYT has more if not better music writers but this on John Mayer seems to be particularly back-handed in its acceding to his manager’s p.r. needs. Just a live review of his bantering with the babes in the front row and a clear description of his endless blues scales through which he attempts to recoup a theoretical manhood which no-one in the place is buying, though Buddy Guy will endure it if he’s paid and has his own p.r. needs at hand. The bad piece is topped off with a NYT portrait with a leather jacket over a flannel as he leans against the nearest brick wall.
Leon Wieseltier is disappointed as he reads President Obama’s body language on the world stage, and the New York Times over his coffee.
If we can’t help you, at least help us hurt you.
The NYT doughboy has that faux-perverse dream of corralling machismo to do social good, something like the jollies he got cheering on the Iraq war, only this time his reputation will be repaired instead of torn down. “I am a clean-energy hawk.” I’m sure he means it cause he’s still brownieing up to all his former readers he used to spoon-feed business economics to -- they must all have lost much weight. It’s tedious, but it has its own momentum at this point, especially as we seemed to have won the wrong war.
Good Guys raising Bad Boys’ kids.
The NYT Magazine this Sunday produced its best issue in memory with three sizeable feature stories. Almost something you’d buy stand-alone. The first is an update on Mikhail Khodorkovsky in prison, the second about globalized agriculture, and the third a kind of backing into the least known social development in America. The story follows fathers' use of DNA testing when they find their wives have been cheating on them and what happens to the parental relationship when children are found not related biologically. The story averts its eyes from the mothers, and it's merely an opening paragraph in the bigger story of good guys raising bad boys' kids, more often knowingly. An untold story because of what it might say about women this far down the road from the oppressive fifties and whatever nightmare was going on before that.
Obituary of the Week.
Jack G. Wallenda, Detective in the Richard Speck case.
Kobe Bryant, one of NBC’s “most fascinating, inspirational, heroic and notorious figures … of 2009.” Stay tuned to NBC this Thanksgiving when Matt Lauer will deliver the punchline. It will be all the funnier for it being delivered with straight face. Kobe just might cry real tears. Jim Bell and David Corvo are the executive producers.
To receive a weekly update notice for the NV, send an email to newvulgate[at]sbcglobal.net with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. To stop receiving notices, do the same with the word UNSUBSCRIBE.
• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
• Copyright retained by the writer, artist, or photographer