Sunday, January 30, 2011

Honey, can I jump on it sometime?

Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it’s really that expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, if you wanna see the sun rise
Honey, I know where
We’ll go out and see it sometime
We’ll both just sit there and stare
Me with my belt
Wrapped around my head
And you just sittin’ there
In your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I asked the doctor if I could see you
It’s bad for your health, he said
Yes, I disobeyed his orders
I came to see you
But I found him there instead
You know, I don’t mind him cheatin’ on me
But I sure wish he’d take that off his head
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I see you got a new boyfriend
You know, I never seen him before
Well, I saw him
Makin’ love to you
You forgot to close the garage door
You might think he loves you for your money
But I know what he really loves you for
It’s your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alexis de Tocqueville x 10....

Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
"In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them."

"The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through."

"As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?"

"What is most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men, but they do not form a class."

"I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America."

"In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end."

"In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own."

"There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult - to begin a war and to end it."

"I have no hesitation in saying that although the American woman never leaves her domestic sphere and is in some respects very dependent within it, nowhere does she enjoy a higher station. And if anyone asks me what I think the chief cause of the extraordinary prosperity and growing power of this nation, I should answer that it is due to the superiority of their women."

"When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."

Friday, January 28, 2011


The percentage of American workers in unions last year, the lowest proportion in more than 70 years, according to the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of workers in unions fell by 612,000 last year, to 14.7 million. About 20 percent of workers were in unions in 1983; the figure was 35 percent during the mid-1950s, according to labor historians. Last year “was a very tough year for unionized workers,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “We’re seeing declines in the private sector, and we’re seeing declines in the public sector.”

Can anyone anywhere really believe that the corresponding stagnation of worker wages and rise in corporate profits are actually unrelated?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hollywood endings....

Every few days I go to my local library and flip through their DVD collection. I usually get box sets of TV series I've either missed or that air on channels I don't get. Occasionally I pick up a feature film or two, especially if it's something recent that I've read about. I don't go to see films in theaters anymore; the stress of dealing with other people distracts me for days before I even go. The last film I went to see in a theater was Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan anti-bio pic, I'm Not There. During the opening credits there was a fire alarm in the mall where the theater was and everyone was evacuated. I got the message: no exceptions.

I'm not a big Oliver Stone fan. I never made it through the first 10 minutes of Platoon; I can watch JFK if I watch it as a comedy. I am a fan of Natural Born Killers however, and I was surprised by World Trade Center because he avoided any whiff of "conspiracy" and never gave a second thought to the hijackers, choosing instead to tall a story about the first responders, which is the only important story to tell in all of that.

I thought Wall Street (1987) was OK, although it would have been thoroughly forgettable but for Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko. I like Michael Douglas (having finally forgiven him for his part in the ruining of Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) so when I saw the DVD of the Wall Street sequel, Money Never Sleeps, on the library shelf I brought it home.

The film is worth seeing for Douglas' performance alone. The subtlety and nuance he brings to the post-prison, broke and broken Gordon Gekko sent me back to the internet to look up the number of individual muscles in the human face (a lot). And watching Douglas appear to age backwards as the events unfold forward and he builds another fortune is a particularly stunning part of that performance.

But watching the film also became another reminder of the diminishing effects of the "Hollywood ending." I use the phrase to describe that peculiar effect the ending of a mainstream Hollywood film has upon the film as a whole - specifically, the way in which this sort of ending takes what might have been a very good film, and suddenly body slams it onto the concrete pavement of mediocrity.

For example....

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) would have been considerably more powerful (and shorter) had the credits rolled when William Hurt's character Louis, having just been released from prison, is getting on a bus still undecided about what he will do next.

The Devil Wore Prada (2006) is well worth seeing for Meryl Streep's performance as Miranda, but if the credits had rolled in the scene toward the end where Miranda sits in her limo with Andy (Ann Hathaway) and the film had ended with Andy still undecided about the choice that lays in front of her, it would have been a far better film.

The end of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps actually ruins the film. The Gordon Gekko we see at the very end reminds me of the Rocky Balboa of Rocky IV, a mutant who bears no resemblance to the human being in Rocky (1976). Even more however, the Hollywood ending of Money Never Sleeps is Oliver Stone losing his nerve and folding like a cheap suit. For ninety minutes we are told, in tremendous detail, how we were screwed, how we are being screwed, how we will be screwed in the future, and how we can't do a goddamn thing about it.

But wait... yes we can... maybe... look... happy.

In the end then we are screwed by Wall Street, just like this film is screwed by this Hollywood ending.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy birthday, Dr. King.

I love this photo because it's so unlike all the images we usually see of Dr. King as an orator, leader, preacher, fighter, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Instead it is a candid moment, Martin clearly enjoying the warm of friends. I'd like to think he made that 11 ball.