a new low in topical enlightenment

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Issue #64 (September 22, 2010)

Medicine Bow Aspen, Along Hwy 130, Above 9000 Feet

Photo by Joe Carducci

Attention ! La fourchette !
(Or, Watch Out For That Fork!!)

By Carolyn Heinze

The last time I saw Claude Chabrol he was on Taddeï. As in Frédéric Taddeï  – the super-cute, loosened tie-wearing, boyish-grinning super-cute French TV host that I happen to have a super-huge crush on. (Not only because he’s super-cute in that boyish tie-wearing loose-grinning French kind of way but also because he happens to be super-smart – he’s soooo super-cute when he’s being that! – and super-knowledgeable, too. You know, about what his guests are talking about.) (And as we all know, that’s super-rare for a TV talk show journalist.) (Which is so super-sexy-cute.) (His show is called Ce soir ou jamais !) (Means “Tonight Or Never!”) (!!!) (!!!)

Anyway. Chabrol. So the last time I saw him he was on Taddeï and they were talking about les maisons closes. (“Closed houses” for you amateurs; “bordellos” for you connaisseurs.) Before Sarko got his Pétain on and started racially profiling and racially organizing and racially categorizing and categorically, systematically, racistly deporting racially rendered Romas, the news was much more fun. Hence the discussion about les maisons closes. (They’re thinking about legalizing them.) (I’m all for it.) (As long as my boyfriend promises to stay the hell away.) Putain.

(A side note?) (Just to kind of break the fourth wall?) (“Pétain” kinda sounds like “putain” and in French “putain” means “whore.”) (HA!)

Anyway, yes, Chabrol. He was on Taddeï (well, not literally on him, but you know…) telling a story. It was about les maisons closes. He was the only guy on the set who had ever been to one, back in the day. Back in the day his dad had taken him there and bought him a Coke. Claude was nervous, but he drank it anyway. And that, comme on dit, was that. Back in the day. According to how he told the story.

I know that you know that I know that you know that aside from alive-and-well French talk show hosts, I already have my fair share of crushes on a fair share of dead guys, but it’s hard not to have a crush on Claude Chabrol. Just ask France – or anybody from here. If Victor Hugo was France’s son, then Claude Chabrol was kinda like France’s uncle, only not in the creepy-sugar daddy-drinking-a-Coke-in-a-bordello kind of way. There’s a saying, or at least the newspaper Libération recently, rightly, righteously, just right the other day, the day right after his death, at the right time, kinda compiled and created one: Chabrol, c’est la France. (Chabrol is France.) When you think of the joyous, jolly, jovial, jubilant bon vivant-cum-cinéaste movie director – and you live in Paris – it’s hard to make the connection between the fun-“here kid, have a dollar”- type of uncle and, well, la France. But if you think about it a moment longer, you kinda get the drift. “La France perd son miroir,” Libé went on to say, in big, bold, black, bold emboldened letters: “France Loses Its Mirror.” And this is where it starts to get interesting.

The thing about Claude Chabrol’s films is that someone always ends up with a fork in the eye. Or a knife in the back. Or a bullet in the head. That kind of thing. I don’t know if the French stick more knives in each other’s backs or more forks in each other’s eyes or more bullets in each other’s heads than anybody else from any other country, but when you’re watching Chabrol, that’s pretty much how things turn out. Complete with crazy, classically-inspired, it’s-three-o’clock-in-the-morning at the campus radio station-and-the pianist-and-horn-section-just-went-apeshit type of music. Often composed by Chabrol’s son, Mathieu. You know, just to create un peu d’ambiance. The kind of ambiance that makes the rich look, well, bitch.

“I’ve always taken pleasure from proving that the bourgeoisie was stupid,” Chabrol once said, conveniently – or not – forgetting that his first film, Le Beau Serge, a classic, was financed by his first wife, a bourgeoise. The French love to hate the bourgeoisie, but they love to love them more, which explains why Karl Lagerfeld – who isn’t even French – is such a star here, Louis XVI-powdered pony-tailed mullet et al. The French Revolution may have stuck the proverbial fork in the monarchy’s proverbial eye, but that doesn’t mean that for proverbial pomp and circumstance, the French don’t feel a bit of nostalgie. Chabrol got this about his countrymen, and then he promptly stabbed them in the eye, and for that, he was, and will continue to be, adored. Hey, it’s the birthplace of Sade, as in le sado-masochisme . . . Live here for five minutes, fork protuding from eye socket, and you’ll see what I mean.

Someone’s eye always ended up with a fork in it; and chances are they were rich or richly-associated, and chances are the reasoning was richly dumb. In between? They ate, richly, with forks and knives and otherwise, something Uncle Claude with his savoir-vivre knew all too well how to do. “We’re not really going to call this film Chicken With Vinegar?!” he is said to have said about one of his seventy-odd movies, which in the end, was called Poulet au vinaigre. It was a play on words: poulet is slang for “cop,” and vinaigre . . . well, that could mean “bad wine.” But what else could he have titled it, really, when you think about it? It would have been too obvious – and slightly gauche –  to call it Let Them Eat Cake. Dessert forks are smaller, but just as pointed.

Delichon Urbicum, by James Fotopoulos

From the Desk of Joe Carducci…

Mario Rizzo’s blog at csmonitor.com.

“We are now witnessing many important developments that will affect economics and public perceptions for a long time to come. It is perhaps too late in their careers for most established economists to be much affected. They will go the epicycle route: rationalize, complicate, and immunize against criticism. Fine, this is in part what the ‘old guard’ is supposed to do. And those with different ideas must struggle against them.

But look around. We are witnessing the clear unraveling of the New Deal legacy. The relative modest beginnings of the New Deal turn out to have been relatively unimportant. What was important were the tendencies that were set in motion.”


Ronald Pestritto in the WSJ, "Glenn Beck, Progressives and Me".

“Mr. Beck and others -- such as Jonah Goldberg in his 2008 book, "Liberal Fascism" -- tie today's progressives to the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century. They contend that the original progressives -- including leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt -- rejected America's founding principles. Mr. Beck also claims that today's leftist policies are the culmination of a journey begun by progressives over a century ago.

I think it's fair to say that I'm one of those indirectly responsible for the fuss. Messrs. Beck and Goldberg have drawn from my academic work on Woodrow Wilson, and I've been interviewed about this work by Mr. Beck as an occasional guest on his program. Whatever I or anyone else thinks about Mr. Beck's programming or political views, on one central historical issue he is correct: The progressive movement did indeed repudiate the principles of individual liberty and limited government that were the basis of the American republic. America's original progressives were convinced that the country faced a set of social and economic problems demanding a sharp increase in federal power. They also said that there was too much emphasis placed on protecting the liberty of individuals at the expense of broader social justice.”


Gail Collins in the NYT, writes up her seventh or eighth trip to Alaska post-Palin nomination in "A State of Two Minds".

She seems unable to resist baiting candidates that promise to cut federal spending as if their governing philosophies are or ought been pre-sold as they’ve developed inside of this old New Deal-straining-for-full-public-sector-transcendence of the constraints of what remains of the constitutional Republic. As if they are or ought already be wholly-owned souls the beltway collects like scalplocks on the spear of state. She might be more relaxed if she actually believed that. If Sarah Palin doesn’t disappear soon I predict Gail will marry her bush pilot.


The New Yorker pointed a finger and The New York Times has its pincushion for oh, the next two years at least, "The Brothers Koch and AB 32".

The point seems to be that economics and science are social constructs to be written from the mind of paper-pushers enforced on all the mere doers. Then they wonder why people question their numbers and their science. This self-interested superstition of theirs is baked into this careful sentence misconstruction:

“The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science, which shows that man-made emissions are largely responsible for global warming, and wrong about the economics.”

Science doesn’t “show” anything as convenient for the new class or the word “largely” wouldn’t clutter this sentence. Marxist culture-killers used to claim for all their favorite agit-prop plays that they “showed” this or “showed” that about this or that class of men. Wrong again.

Here the NYT edit-board, in its throat-clearing preface to calling for a veto on technological innovation, gently reminds its readership across the grant-based campus outposts of Amerika that we do need natural gas to continue to be extracted. Otherwise, I suspect they worry that good times will unnecessarily roll again for BP, the Kochs, the Gulf Coast, the Calif Coast, and Alaska. Fifteen years ago talking to my dad, I guessed that given the bourgeossification of elite American (and European) sentiment, any company called Shanghai Petrochemical was bound to be worth investing in as the Western minerals industries are slowly crushed by the sustainability vetoes of the new know-nothings. The skills learned and experience gained at Deepwater Horizon are likely to benefit Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Nigerian oil industries as they move into the offshore drilling Western companies pioneered.

And I don’t think the NYT in its autopilot mode is quite up to Donald Rumsfeld’s speed. They have “unknown knowns” on or near their uni-mind for its own reasons. I wonder who they have slated to attempt a review of Rumsfeld’s memoir?


Scott Kilman in the WSJ, "Corn Sweetener Desires a More Palatable Name".

“The Corn Refiners Association, which includes commodity processing giants such as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Cargill Inc., said it filed a petition Tuesday with the Food and Drug Administration for permission to switch the name of high fructose corn syrup to ‘corn sugar.’… ‘We hope to erase consumer confusion,’ said Audrae Erickson, president of the Washington, D.C., trade group, which has been waging a two-year campaign to dispel the growing perception among some consumers that the corn industry's sweetener isn't as natural as sugar….

The FDA requires that the names of food products be truthful and not misleading. While it's rare for the FDA to consider requests to change the name of a food, it has signed off on allowing prune marketers to call their product a dried plum, and for makers of rapeseed oil to market it as canola oil.”


Charles Rule in the WSJ, "‘Trust Us’ Isn’t an Answer".

“There are a growing number of complaints in the U.S. and Europe that Google has used its search monopoly to exclude actual and potential rivals, big and small. How exactly? Rigging clicks by lowering competitors' rankings in Google searches is one way. Another is locking up critical content, like video and books, so that rival search engines are frustrated in trying to provide their users with access to that content. The result has been Google's overwhelming dominance.

Ironically, many of the most ardent defenders of Google are the same individuals-- such as Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO who was an executive at Sun and later Novell--who devoted so much time, money and effort to pushing the frontiers of the law and government regulation against Microsoft a decade ago.”


Matthew Kaminski in TNR, on Leïla Marouane’s book, The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris:

“Scholars of French Islam sometimes say that the underlying tension in the banlieues is not so much us vs. them -- the Muslim immigrant against the Christian native -- as sister vs. brother: the woman who wishes to escape to a life of Western clothes and men, and her brother, feeling threatened by the unbridled liberation of their new land, who beats her back, shrouding her in a veil or marrying her off to a first cousin in the bled or the banlieue.”


MEMRI’s "Reactions in the Islamic World to the Plan to Build Islamic Center Near Ground Zero".

Khalil ‘Ali Haidar, Kuwait:

"It is rare to find even one American or European Muslim who engages in self-criticism or defends freedom of religion and thought in the Muslim and Arab world, who supports a persecuted author or intellectual facing trial in some Muslim country, or who defends a new and modern perception of Islam. The Arab preachers, writers and academics who [address the Western Muslims] in their writings, or visit the Western countries, [only] intensify the extremism of the Western and American Muslims, and speak of nothing but the 'Zionist lobby,' 'the Palestinian problem,' 'Neo-Christians,' and 'the American failure in Iraq and Afghanistan'!

It's no wonder then that some Americans, Britons, and Germans [who convert to Islam] go straight from Christianity to takfiri jihad, and from oblivious libertinism to aggressive extremism, so that even the hills and mountains of Tora Bora are hardly enough for them!”


Mark Ames in The NY Observer, "Untangling the Bizarre CIA Links to the Ground Zero Mosque".

“But add to this array of unexpected connections the work of Imam Rauf on behalf of the U.S. government -- which includes serving as an FBI ‘consultant’ and being recruited as a spokesperson by longtime George W. Bush confidante Karen Hughes, who headed up the administration's propaganda efforts in the Muslim world -- and a compelling picture begins to emerge. Bush's favorite Imam, with backing from a funder with connections to the CIA, the Pentagon and the currency trading company that now sponsors rightwing firebrand Glenn Beck, proposes to build a mosque around the corner from the site of the most devastating terrorist attack ever visited on America. In the name of ‘[cultivating] understanding among all religions and cultures,’ he puts forth a project that offends a majority of Americans and deals a significant setback to the broader acceptance of Muslim-Americans. It's a little like Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson claiming the only reason he moonwalks after scoring a touchdown is to lower tensions on the football field and raise the other team's spirits.”


From signandsight.com, a summary in translation from Frankfurter Rundschau.

“For Peter Schneider, it is the media which has come out worse in the Sarrazin debate. ‘A second parallel society has shown its face, the parallel society of politicians and opinion leaders who certainly do not send their children to the problems schools where 90 percent of the children are Muslim. They failed to realise until it was too late that their hysterical reaction was turning Sarrazin into a popular hero, thus further deepening the divide between themselves and a majority which is refusing to keep quiet any longer.’”


Rob Brown in The Jerusalem Post, "Why Isn’t India a Pariah State?"

“The once heavenly Kashmir Valley has become hell on earth for many of its inhabitants, but Indians are unlikely to have to endure the same hellish condemnation as Israelis. The sole Jewish state on the planet is proving a wonderful lightning rod for Islamic militants – and their misguided liberal-leftist allies – in a way that the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir could never be. Raw economic factors reinforce such inconsistencies.

People may be killed like poultry in Kashmir, as in Tibet, but even ‘progressive’ Western politicians are too chicken to jeopardize their countries’ rapidly expanding commercial connections with either India or China. Of course, little Israel isn’t anywhere near as lucrative a marketplace. Consequently, a Kashmiri (or a Tibetan) life will continue to count for far less than that of a Palestinian.”


Christopher Caldwell in the FT, "Born-again anti-Catholicism".

“Most of the Pope’s detractors will admit that there is an old, embarrassing kind of ‘bad’ anti-Catholicism, based on prejudice, ignorance and nationalism. They claim to represent instead a ‘good’ kind of protest, based on ethics and evidence. The distinction is not always obvious. On Thursday, Lord Bannside, the former Northern Ireland first minister, led a protest in Edinburgh against priestly abuse. But of course, he was just as infuriated in 1982, when, as Ian Paisley, he led a similar group to chant: ‘One faith, one crown, no pope in our town.’

The protesters’ problem is not just with the alleged illiberality of this particular Pope, but with organised Catholicism more generally. The church is a unique organisation. The Pope speaks for all Catholics, a fifth of humanity. Back when military powerhouses – Spain, France, Poland – upheld the Catholic faith, it was prudent for a non-Catholic country to fear, monitor and even exclude it. Britain has always been the anti-Catholic country par excellence, but the US inherited its preoccupations. John F. Kennedy would never have become president had he not explicitly promised voters to take no orders from Rome.

That is not the world we live in today, to put it mildly. The Church is a moral force, not a military one. It is a voluntary organisation. There are no penalties for apostasy. No Catholic is above the laws of the country he lives in. In this light, the new anti-Catholicism seems considerably less reasonable than the old.”


Leigh Phillips at euobserver.com, "The Great Devouring".

“Weighing into the bitter European Union debate over the Roma, the bloc’s social affairs chief, Laszlo Andor, uniquely among his commission colleagues, has come to the defence of vice-president Viviane Redings’s comparison of France’s expulsions to the horrors that befell the continent during World War II….

Hungary’s representative in the commission, and by some degree its most left-wing member, has said her comparison is historically accurate and he ‘totally’ supports all her words. He is frustrated that much of the discourse over the past few days both by politicians and in the media has assumed that Ms Reding had likened French treatment of Roma with that of Jews, forgetting that for many gypsies, the Holocaust is also known as ‘O Baro Porrajmos,’ or the Great Devouring.”


Jeff McMahan at opinionator, "The Meat Eaters".

“Suppose that we could arrange the gradual extinction of carnivorous species, replacing them with new herbivorous ones. Or suppose that we could intervene genetically, so that currently carnivorous species would gradually evolve into herbivorous ones, thereby fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.”


Sam Geall at newhumanist.org.uk, "Lies, damn lies and Chinese science".

“In his speech to Peking University graduates professor Wang bravely ventured that ‘International rankings, such as which country is number one, are not important.’ But it’s a message that hasn’t reached China’s bureaucrats leading the push for achievement in science. This publish-or-perish culture has led to unrealistic targets at Chinese universities – and as a predictable consequence, rampant plagiarism. In January, the peer-reviewed international journal Acta Crystallographica Section E announced the retraction of more than 70 papers by Chinese scientists who had falsified data. Three months later, the same publication announced the removal of another 39 articles ‘as a result of problems with the data sets or incorrect atom assignments’, 37 of which were entirely produced in Chinese universities. The New Jersey-based Centenary College closed its affiliated Chinese business school programme in July after a review ‘revealed evidence of widespread plagiarism, among other issues, at a level that ordinarily would have resulted in students’ immediate dismissal from the college.’ A government study, cited by Nature, found that about one-third of over 6,000 scientists surveyed at six top Chinese institutions had practiced ‘plagiarism, falsification or fabrication’.”


Rob Fitzpatrick in The Guardian, pretends to try to fathom American healthcare as it pertains to American musicians, primarily those who have had some success on major labels. I know musicians who might have deserved an easier ride but who get healthcare coverage in real jobs that afford them as well the means to continue to produce music much too good to warrant a career in that music business. In any case any article like this one ("When the music fades: US musicians’ healthcare crisis") which wrings its hands so earnestly and misuses a “very conservative” musician’s concern as well as a photo of Vic Chestnutt, but neglects to mention tort and class action lawyering costs is just dishonest in its coy no-hands push to collectivism. These unproductive legal costs have changed the behavior of doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and employers -- everyone actually -- for four decades without begging the question, "Can we afford it?" The New Class in action.


World Premiere Saturday.

David Travis’s “A History Lesson, Pt. 1” featuring The Minutemen, The Meat Puppets, Redd Kross, Twisted Roots live circa 1984, with contemporary interviews.

•Saturday, Sept. 25
Blue Star Café in Downtown Los Angeles
Thereafter Tuesdays in October at the Redwood Bar, Downtown Los Angeles.

Dave was around most SST bands’ gigs in Los Angeles with his video camera. For posterity at gigs we had Naomi’s camera, my Aiwa portable, and Dave’s vidcam. Check out his footage of D. Boon in the trailer link -- we’re very lucky to see and hear that action today. Sure it should have been a professional three-man crew from MTV with 1” tape and synchronized 24-track mix. But it wasn’t. It was a kid named Dave:

“In 2008 I started digitizing my old video footage. I cut a 3-hour / 30-band compilation. Since I was previously teaching history and I wanted to teach people about what music was like in the past; I called this “A History Lesson”. Because I wanted to make this a series, I called it Part 1. I found a lawyer to advise me on how to put this out, and he told me that it would be impossible to clear and that I should reduce the number of bands and then try to clear it. I re-cut it to a 2-hour 12-band version, adding interviews. I took this to a lawyer and she said that I would have to get signed releases from all the musicians that appeared and clearances from the music publishers for each song. I tracked down as many musicians as I could and contacted the publishers or had the musicians publish the songs. The process of doing all these clearances and releases took from December 2008 to September 2009. In the end, I was only able to use four bands. Those four bands are the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, Twisted Roots, and Redd Kross.

I cut the movie for a third time. The latest version is 57-minutes long. I did a cast and friends preview screening at Café 322 in February 2010. I submitted the film to a dozen festivals and got rejected by all of them. I am now starting to show the video at clubs and other venues around L.A. I am premiering the movie at the Blue Star Café in Downtown Los Angeles, on September 25th, 2010. I will then show it every Tuesday in October at the Redwood Bar in Downtown Los Angeles. I will then try to radiate out and screen in places other than downtown L.A. I had 1000 DVDs manufactured. I am talking with a distributor, so I will see how that goes. If not I will sell the DVDs at screenings, try to get it into Amoeba and other local stores, and try to sell it on Amazon and iTunes.

Thank You,
Dave Travis”

No, thank you.


Saccharine Trust plays two shows this week including “The History Lesson” premiere Saturday. Jack writes they have some studio time he earned building a fence twelve years ago -- he figures they better use the time before the fence falls down. Here’s Saccharine Trust playing “The Great One Is Dead” twelve years ago in San Pedro; it’s the title track from their last album, recorded and released in Germany. Here’s an LAist blog by Elise Thompson from 2007 where Saccharine performed their first album at a SY-RK afterparty.

•Thurs. Sept. 23, 10pm
The Prospector
2400 E. 7th st.
Long Beach, Cal.
w/ Dos, Neo, Tribraco.

•Sat. Sept. 25, 6pm
The Blue Star Cafe
2200 E. 15th st.
Los Angeles, Cal.
w/ "A History Lesson" premiere, and Lawndale, The Crowd, The Controllers.


The Wire's new issue includes a feature on the L.A.F.M.S. -- a group of groups and artists who tend to be ignored for all their ambition and their too-early recording and releasing of records for the usual wrongo history-of temporal narratives. If they’d been in NYC it would’ve been as if some kind of Beefheartian no-wave predated punk; and if they’d been in London it would’ve been as if Pub rock had been made up instead of bands like The Desperate Bicycles or Etron fou Le Loublan. This article and the show at Beaconsfield won’t dent history’s chrome-dome though.

“The Lowest Form of Music”
-The L.A. Free Music Society in London-

•Fri. Oct. 22 to Sun. Oct. 24

22 Newport St, London, SE11 6AY


“Vinyl” album cover art show, Warhol, Pettibon, etc.

•Oct. 9 to Jan. 10
Garage Center for Contemporary Culture
19A Ulitsa Obraztsova, Moscow


Obituary of the Week: John Goeken (1930-2010)

“Goeken started Microwave Communications Inc. -- the original name of MCI -- in 1963 with a simple plan to increase sales at his two-way radio business in Joliet. He thought he could sell more two-way radios to truckers traveling between Chicago and St. Louis if he could build microwave towers to serve the route. But AT&T and four other communications companies regarded his plan as competition and filed petitions with the Federal Communications Commission to stop him. Goeken and his four partners put up a total of $3,000 to cover legal fees, but the money was quickly exhausted. One by one, his partners dropped out, leaving Goeken to fill the David role in the battle against the telecom Goliaths. As the legal fight dragged on through the 1960s, Goeken was so broke that he used tape to keep the soles of his shoes from flapping loose. Despite the long odds, MCI grew into a national network and rival AT&T lost its monopoly.”


Thanks to Mike Watt, Steve Beeho, Jack Endino, Patrick Baldwin.

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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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