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Sunday, March 22, 2015



So, Greece tries to get out from under its horrendous debt by demanding its major creditor - Germany - reimburse it for the expense of sending its Greek Jewish population to the death camps in WWII.  That among many other horrors inflicted by the Nazis still stands out.  Jews now only were to be sent to work and death camps, but had to pay their own fare.  Greece paid it for them. So kind. They had no choice anyway. The Germans were in Greece only because their idiot ally - Mussolini in Italy - invaded.  Still, it gets no lower than billing the innocent for their own murders.

Greece makes a powerful point that Germany - the nation that started two world wars in the minds and clear memory of that world - got bailed out big time afterwards and has near zero standing to lecture Greece today. That is hard to argue with, but Germany's pretense for WWII was that WWI's termination was a betrayal and they did not owe the huge paybacks to the Allies we claimed.  This is not an easy issue.

Greece has been financially incompetent, primarily because of the national need to have the 2004 Olympics, but its history of fascist and near communist governments since WWII has not evolved a functional public attitude towards economy or government in any sense. Watch "Z" today, a 60's movie that was confusing then and will make less sense now, but it captures the horrors at work during those years.

Bibi Netanyahu didn't waste time exposing himself as a multiple faced liar - as bad as Mitt Romney is and worse than Nixon - and genuine prick.  After running around declaring there would never be a Palestinian state while he was in charge, he immediately said he'd be willing to consider it as soon as the election is over. An Israeli Tea Party candidate.  Of course, he has yet to form a government and may not be able to, although it's assumed he can.



The Roberts Court featuring The Supremes have another go at Obamacare in a few weeks.  This could be a disaster although several of the reddish states like Texas have GOP politicos saying tearing it down is the worst option for them.  Also, the fact is that millions more than anticipated or remotely hoped have signed up and it is working: the growth of medical costs is down significantly and heading downward into reduction territory if trends continue.  


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This is one Juniper Gelrod, a young lady who spent the first months of her life dicing with death till another family's tragedy allowed Juniper to receive a new heart.  All seems well, as this and other shots and video of the youngster on Channel 4, CBS in Denver's website suggest.  And here.

I have zero connection to her, but this photo just picked up my sagging face enough to want to share it.  All the work, the pain, the tragedies that have allowed us as a species to transplant major organs and save lives - and perhaps full lives of many years - is just old hat now, and it should not be.  All praise to the family who had to pull the plug on their own and retain the spirit and energy to share their deceased child's heart with one who, from all indications, plans to use it well, and happily, and honor the child they lost.

What a gift.  Remember Christian Barnard, the guy who made this all possible by being the first doctor to do it and taking all the hits and accusations that accrue to those who take action with risk, but in time. There was, and remains, a storm of controversy over transplants, and a black market, and all sorts of evil possibility as well as great good.  Suspect Juniper has not devoted much time to this or consideration of herself or her painful journey.  More than an 'owie,' though.  It's photos like this (and children like her...) who must make it all worthwhile, the exhaustion worth it. I hope so.

Incredible.  Not only alive but happy and healthy.  



Climate change always makes the news, especially if the nation is near totally socked in by unending snow. My family in New England have never seen anything like what has hit them, and I've had estimates from Maine and Massachusetts who say there are fields with 7 and a half feet of level and heavy snow.  Near hurricane winds pack it higher, and because cities have no place to put plowed snow, there are near mountains over a hundred feet high, maintained by heavy earth moving equipment, one of them in the center of MIT in Boston.  

Snow always retains a bit of fun, and the children are rather agog, although there is more snow promised for this weekend just as we in Boulder are likely to have seven days of snow starting today, and making this February a record breaker for snow and cold after starting out as among the dryest and warmest.

Nobody dares point out that Spring is just around the bend, which (generally....) means warmer weather, which means melt, which means flooding of the sort nobody back there can remember and it will be dreadful, especially in the big cities like, say, Boston. Of course, what is usually a gradual warm up in the past may, if recent trends continue, now feature 70 degree days dissolving those hundred foot snow mountains into walls of water quickly.

All this burdens scientists of various types for explanations, since there is a religious segment of society melded with conservative politics that gets off chuckling about how wrong Al Gore was and that the earth is not warming and offer record snow falls and low temps as proof.  What science is calling an aberration in climate is just an odd stretch of weather to these folks.  You cannot argue with them, they don't want change and think it can be denied by will.  In a way, climate change and science threatens their religion and their god. So they work to substitute myth and legend for history and science and education in general.

Ironically, they also stay alert to threats foreign and domestic while dumbing down our schools and decreasing our ability to meet said threats, even the ones based in reality. This doesn't matter because Christ is coming soon, they feel. There is precedent for all this rarely mentioned. Not just the failure of Christ to return, which has many laughable failures in the past, but a strange belief that the production of Christian gentlemen should be the agreed product of all our schools, private and public, along with submissive women. Republicans were just polled and over half think Christianity should be the state religion, contrary to Constitution and the very point of this nation. Hard to say what is more disheartening: that they didn't know it was blatantly unconstitutional or that they don't care.

This is the same as 18th and 19th century England, whose private schools for the ruling class - called by them Public Schools - churned out some very accomplished scholars and leaders but mostly leaning in the direction of essay writers, and not scientists. Only one percent of England's school children ever went to a college, and nearly all of them were from the upper classes, and this was true till quite recently. Nor, for that matter, did England's schools produce many people who knew about business, production, finance, or much of anything to be thought of as a useful trade. That was learned as an apprentice to the trade.

It was entirely common for officers in the Royal Navy and the Army to be the least informed about how to fight a war, a battle, or to maintain the engines and fire the weapons and hit something intended. Genius arose as well, but rarely assisted by the schools.  So many scientists were autodidacts and amateur because so few of those with management positions or wealth had the slightest interest in earning what they already had, and kept private collections and published limited runs.  This was the nation where Isaac Newton was refused a position because of his religious views.  Such as they were.

Because England did it this way the status envy US had elements that wanted to replicate it, but the US from the beginning had no state church and no landed aristocracy or inherited government positions. So, the working classes had opportunity to rise and quickly.  The public schools in the days of the McGuffy Readers helped.
Now, though, the aspiring middle class is facing the horror of having expensively uneducated children equipped for a world resembling Edwardian England, but certainly not one with women being half the labor force, the long predominant white man sliding down the status ladder, and many relatively recent immigrants having the drive, education, and ability to do the needed jobs in industry and business. There are those who feel we should devote more time to religion and make believe history rather than knowing how to survive and prosper and, in general, what we're talking about.
Sunday, February 22, 2015



The above was taken some weeks back by the Daily Camera.  It's the view that most people had seeing Boulder for the first time, either driving west on I-70 or coming up from the airport.  It stays with you, and I can say I've stopped there at night in summer and just enjoyed the view, the silence (that may be a memory now) and the general sense of grandiosity, being about to see the furthest borders of the horizon to the east, south, and north, and the incredible Rocky Mountains to the west. It is a heartstopping view, even in this photo taken at a dead time of year.  In the summer and autumn, it's something you will remember always.  Boulder is a beautiful town.

And there is a lot to fight about.  There is a building boom, and the poorly conceived driving avenues going north and south hinder much ability to handle it.  Google is putting in a huge campus, and high rise (well, five stories....) apartments and business buildings are increasing.  It scares and annoys people, primarily because this will take away the 'small city/town' motif that Boulder chooses to view itself as.  But we have problems when 60k people at day - it is so claimed - drive into Boulder to work because they cannot afford to live here, or choose not to.  We have huge log jams, primarily because only three large streets go all the way north and south.  When there is a football game of any large draw in Boulder, it can be less than a great experience.

New England, from which I emerged, is under about eleven feet of snow if I read the hysteric reports and for that matter so is England herself.  All of the Northern Hemisphere, sans California, is being dumped upon with some regularity this winter.  Europe has had several bad ones in a row. And, after opening with the warmest February with the least snow in memory, Mother Nature cinches in her Bitch Bonnet and has visited near two feet upon Boulder (well, by Monday noon it is thought) with temps hovering in the 0 degree category.

This doesn't hold a candle to the calamity back East, but it is serious since Boulder is peopled by those from sheltered homes who don't know how to drive in humid weather, much less rain and certainly not snow.  Four inches can close the city and schools, a decision with which I agree since people think that four wheel drive not only gets you up to speed in snow but stops you faster as well.  

(Which reminds me.......There is no such thing as a SUV with rear wheel drive.  A boxy vehicle like that is called a station wagon.  What makes it a sport utility vehicle is off road ability with four wheel or all wheel drive.  Okay?  Because a lot of people think that their barge is automatically better in snow with one axle drive.  It isn't.  Sorry.)

Anyway, Channel 9 got the work of a Colorado photographer snowflake collection - see cover - and they're pretty spectacular and you ought to check them out.  So, when your back cracks shoveling, your last memory will be of something beautiful and not their evil form and hernia delivery system wetly sticking to the shovel.



All this snow and cold weather will incite the climate change deniers.  There's no escaping them anymore.  It's unfortunate that so many are running for national office and too many will obtain the goal.  It is, really, part of the right wing trying to equate ignorance with virtue, and a yearning for a fake past with ambition for a better America. They want to destroy government's ability to govern so that the people will appeal to the wealthy.  Much like feudalism.  They want all current government functions to be under the wealthy, who will have to be begged.

The biggest thing that has happened in the last century and this one is the increasingly descending status of what I reference as Third Rate White Males, the vast majority of our racial gender.  (I aspire to be as high as Third Rate, but nothing about this makes me look good.)  It's the one thing that unites all the current demographics under the term 'conservatives' and 'libertarians' and those supposedly addicted to the 'original intent' of the Constitution - which, by the way, means by definition they're misogynistic racists.

This nation had lots of working men from Europe, white and generally Protestants, who came here to get away from military impressment and for the free land and opportunities, all the stuff that we teach our children to sing about.  And true, more than not.  But that damned Declaration of Independence brought us to the point where women were treated as if they were men, and ethnics as if they were white, and now we have a nation where white men, who for most of our existence WERE the work force absent the slaves, aren't anywhere near half the work force.  Women are over 50% of the workforce, and that's not including housewives.  Of the other 50%, probably half go to people not normally considered white, however you want to define it.  And the symbol of this vast loss in income and status is the current President, who so handily serves as a symbol of all Third Rate White Men have lost just in my lifetime.

Deservedly, for the most part.  No demographic has been more devoted to advancing its own than white males.

And any news story or idiocy that can portray Obama as evil or unAmerican just serves to unite Palm Beach Trustfund wastes of skin with redneck bigots, neither of whom can get a job or the status their fathers had and, worse, without the education to earn one.  Women are better educated and better informed with better attitudes. It's tough, these days, for the Third Rates, who could at one time count on unions and friends and relatives to prop them up.  Less and less.



I've seen like three movies this year, and only one of the - The Grand Budapest Hotel - is up for Oscars tonight.  I understand the other movies are excellent, but I harbor hope that Wes Anderson's movie gets recognition for originality atop art work and screenplay.  It was a strangely moving film, with the central character getting read off stage by his aged employee thirty years after as delusional and, well, silly.  ".....his world had vanished long before he ever entered it.  But I will say: he certainly maintained the illusion with a marvelous grace."

The expression of the elevator operator, listening to the concierge recite poetry to his ancient target of the previous evening, is pretty much too good not to include here.  The target is Tilda Swinton, actually only two years older than Ralph Fiennes in real life, but 84 in the movie.  


Thursday, January 29, 2015

I will be the last to suggest we'll all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard that Rod McKuen had died.  Rod McKuen is one of the Boomers great embarrassments, for all the wrong and hypocritical reasons that bedevil Boomer recollections about damned near everything.

McKuen died the same day - today - as Colleen McCullough, who wrote a huge bestseller called The Thorn Birds back in the early 70's.  If you're confused at her inclusion, and you are, that's because the 60's began with The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (1964) and ended with Nixon's resignation(1974).  Ten years that don't quite fit between the zeroes but that's what people reference by the 60's.

Despite that and the icky movie made from it, McCullough wrote some excellent historical novels about the ancient world called The Masters of Rome, taking us through the glory years of the Republic to Caesar and just beyond. Only Gore Vidal was as good, better actually, but for the point.  She was a talent, she lived on Norfolk Island and married a descendent of the Bounty mutineers who live there to this day, and she has been missed for a while as her writing decreased with disease and age.  

The woman was brilliant, a doctor in medical research and knew of what she spoke and wrote.

What people forget about the 60's was the childish sense of betrayal and generational wrong done us by not just the Vietnam War, but also the amortized emotional burden of the Civil Rights fight and something I've never actually seen written: the PTSS of what is now called the Greatest Generation, who were born in the Great War years, raised during the Depression, enjoyed the Second Round, the Good War, and then, just as they were easing up inside, the fucking North Koreans came over the border.  By the mid 50's we were in the Cold War, and we Boomers never fully - perhaps never actually at all - understood what our parents had endured and what fueled their numerous melt downs and addictions and family abuse in its numerous forms understood much better now.
But we had seen our heroes, perhaps superficial heroes, murdered on television.  Three big ones, JFK, MLK, RFK, and numerous civil rights advocates and innocents.  

And the damned war.  That god damned war.

The Greatest didn't get us, dealing with their own horrors.  When Bill Cosby explained that parents don't want justice, parents want quiet, it was a rather brilliant summation of actuality for people who'd had quite enough violence, riots, and unstable ground, thank you very much.  I did not appreciate it then, and they, being in trauma, did not articulate it well.

That sounds so near trivial today, when we've all been through worse, but there was a deep sense of hurt, fury, fear, and depression that fluttered about and never quite found the perch to be observed and dealt with by anyone.

There were incidents, unexpected, that opened the wounds and let them bleed.  On was in 1968 on the Smother's Brothers show.  There had been a strike by musicians, so there was no opening theme and only people who could play their own instruments were able to perform.  It only lasted a short while, and the Smothers Brothers hosted one of the best musical shows ever on the tube.  Donovan, themselves, and a guy who used to be the lead singer of a relatively big 50's band, Dion and the Belmonts. When Dion was allowed to do a solo with vocal chorus and no instrumental backup, I suspect many, like myself, were sort of wondering how that might go.  Dion had a huge record, of course.  "Abraham, Martin, and John" was maudlin tribute to Lincoln, Kennedy, and King when written, if the story is true, and then when Robert Kennedy was killed in LA, the author - Dick Holler - added the fourth verse after the bridge and Dion was the first to record it.  It was overdone, with too much of everything.

So, comes what was to be the first performance on national TV, the strike, adjustments.  This could have gone so, so wrong.  

It did not.  Dion was an unexpectedly excellent and impressive guitarist and singer, and about half way through, with focus on a vocally skilled presentation, the lyrics ("Didn't you loooo......ove the things that they stood for?") started internal call and response (Well, yeah.  I did.  I really did!)  And "Didn't they tryyyyy to find .....  some good for you and me?" (By God, they sure did!).......and now...

"Anybody here, seen by old friend Bobby............" And Dion trotted us willingly round the paddock again and we saw yet another young guy murdered a short time previous before our eyes.  And then united together with the previous three and over the hill and gone.......... WTF?

See it here.  You have to try and pat together that world as I've described.  Sophisticated political thought and cynicism were not allowed that night. It ripped my heart out and I would say "liar" to anyone who watched it that evening and claimed the floors were not so littered around the nation. If the song doesn't resonate anymore - and it would not with me had I not seen this performance of authentic corn and schmaltz work so well - there's a great vocal and instrumental performance to admire. Simple, folky, and an open vein.

Rod McKuen came to national attention as a poet on a show with a segment hosted by one of the leads on the Mod Squad.  Right away, you're saying "classy!"  And the image is not helped by a description, of young and beautiful women and their alleged dates gathered around McKuen as he recited poems, near talking blues, not remotely rap. Now, you're thinking "Likely!" And they were innocent, childish, and sometimes brutal takes on love, relationships, and moods seemingly always of cloudy days, drizzle, jeans, thin sweaters, long wet hair, and no bra.  Those kind of days.  

McKuen was scorned, mostly with justification, because he sold more books of his poems and song lyrics than the last four centuries of this planet's poets ever could have, and that times a gabillion.  He sold tons of long playing albums with Anita Kerr that were audio performance art in concept albums with many of the same types and levels of lyrics.  He seemed sincere, had a torn voice.  Women for about two years went batshit for him, and men with their digits always damp to the estrogen thermals, did as well.

Glenn Yarbrough, the Kingston Trio, many did his songs, which got all sorts of awards and sold a ton. McKuen wrote in Europe with some their great song stylists and writers and had an intellectual veneer that wore well in living rooms with huge stereo systems.

It became evident at some point, though, that Rod McKuen was about as gay as they come.  He'd never particularly hid it, but in retrospect it's a big 'well, duh!' You could almost hear the records, lovingly experienced and shared the previous night, slammed into the album covers and hidden in the back of the record cabinet with The Archies in the rooms with big stereos. McKuen quickly became a joke, and his popularity became more restricted and more weird. This was an era when gay was not cool with most people, as it has been for while now. On the other hand, a number of people I knew who were gay - I am not - hated McKuen with a genuine white hot passion of hate. Country music fans, religious sorts, perpetual children types, they still liked his stuff.  

On the other hand, Frank Sinatra did an entire album of his songs. Sinatra. Madonna has done at least one of his songs, Lady GaGa has, any number of people have. Rappers sample his stuff. He wrote some fine tunes and great lyrics.  But by the time of his death, he was forgotten, for the most part. Or maybe 'ignored' is the way to better put it.  His most famous work may be his most godawful: The title song from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  Called "Jean."  You may have guessed.

You can putter around the web and find a ton of his tunes up, which sort of is a world-wide admission that he still has fans.  The one song that hit me in the way Adele hit a lot of people with "Someone Like You", is McKuen singing "People Change."  It's fairly predictable by the standards of pop music till the last line.  "I don't love you now, but you shouldn't think it strange.  After all: people change." I've heard variants of that a few times, and produced my own. But hearing it like that, while hitting at a much more superficial level than Dion, bleeds me more.  

And on cloudy mornings, if I think of it, it still hurts. It does. Nothing for it.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015

So.....regarding the District Court decision on an aspect of the municipalization case late today.  

The City won, and the court was pretty clear that software is not included in Open Records, but the City 'should have' coughed up what was released Monday earlier and has to reimburse the plaintiff for the expense of getting it.  Not much, I wouldn't think, but we'll see.

The city apparently had this won from the start; the law is clear, it turns out.  Who knew?  You'd have thought the Daily Camera would have stumbled across that salient point, that being what the City claimed was the law in black and white was indeed the law. Somehow, that wasn't discovered till the verdict.

The plaintiff, Patrick Murphy, did a service, no doubt, but I suspect for the wrong reasons.  He is underwritten for at least $3k by an unknown individual in Boulder County, he's said, and we can suspect Xcel connections.

Here.

This illustrates, yet again, that the law has not caught up with technology.  I think Boulder, as a government, deserves ability to negotiate on a level playing field with Xcel, who doesn't have to release squat in comparison, even thought they're up and running and should have it before them. So, I like the verdict, but not the mechanism relied upon.  I do understand you work with what the law is, though, not what it should be.

That was too close, though, for me.  I hoped the City anticipated better than I thought it had yesterday, but the verdict seems to show they had it won from the start.  Since I have to believe the lawyer and whoever put up the cash knew it as well, then this should be viewed as simply a nuisance suit.  Fitzgerald, I think, was honest for the reasons he went at it, and the fact he destroyed a Bob Greenlee column in the Camera Sunday totally removes him from my suspicions over the actual point of the suit.

This is a variant of class warfare between residents of eastern Boulder, both city and county.  The road paving, religion, the Muni, Plan Boulder, the elitism - so called - between those west of Broadway and those East, all of these issues are behind the conflicts, not the supposed issues themselves.
Monday, January 05, 2015



The above is by Szodliget in Hungary.  It's one of those  shots that cannot, ever, be duplicated, and it has competition in the latest National Geographic collection and, I think, The Atlantic's photo section. Soothing.  Only selected as Photo of the Day for January 3.  I vote for the week, but, hey, others are able to have incorrect opinions.

Boulder, tomorrow, is going to be afire as a judge has asked the city to show cause why the info they have gathered to contest Xcel Energy in court, should not be made public under the Freedom of Information Act. Boulder is plowing ahead to take over the power grid, and is willing to face Xcel before the bar to get its equipment and rights for negotiated fees.  Xcel never thought it would go this far, and has floundered and bullied in recent tantrums officially and in its use of astroturf citizens who are against it.  

I believe the point is that if they present everything now, so should Xcel, who has produced near nothing except vague promises of near inaction to keep the city happy.  It is panic stricken if Boulder leaves, both because of the expense AND because it is a green light for other municipalities to do the same.  Boulder believes it has the right and nothing so far counters that claim.  At any rate, Xcel tried the same thing and failed, and now a citizen - undoubtedly supported by Xcel directly or not - is the plaintiff.  The city seems sure.

The thing is, of course, is that those in East Boulder tend to be conservative, very religious, and nowhere near as wealthy as Boulder in the main. Those outside the city in the County between Boulder and Longmont are more so.  Longmont, run by the KKK along with most of Colorado in the 1920's, hasn't leaned left till lately, mostly because Boulder was doing so well.  Boulder, who fought the Klan's power (the Daily Camera's golden hour) because of the University and Federal Labs and all sorts of high end jobs and science types, has remained less awash in the Blood of the Lamb. In any case, the city and the conservative elements are near always at odds, and the city wins most often, and as the age group of Boomers and older see themselves declining, they grow more desperate to win something, anything, against the City and the three women who are the County Commissioners.

So, the Municipalization of the City grid, whatever its merits, must be defeated.  The Commissioners need be defeated over a paving issue in housing developments. And, of course, all Commissioners and City Council Members must be voted out of office so the soothing sight of grey haired white men can return to their rightful role. Any any issue, no matter how trivial, which can be used to start a winning streak for the ever so Christian and conservative enclaves must worked towards that end.  

If the City wins tomorrow, as the County won last Friday over a major aspect of the paving case, the bitterness in the East will be horrific.  If they somehow win, their bitterness and rage will be worse, for it's mainly composed of class warriors seeking social revenge.  



On the cover is the newest Italian maritime disaster.  Despite the jokes from WW2 melded on to Mafia corruptions and else, Italy has as impressive a maritime history as England - certainly longer in duration - and they build beautiful ships.  Even their warships were lovely.  

By they're Latin, not Anglo Saxon, and so when the Titanic went down all panic was blamed on the Italians, and the term was used as a synonym for coward in the Titanic hearings in England and here.  There were incidents between then and the Andrea Doria sinking, which was more the fault of the Swedish ship than the Italian.  Smaller incidents, and then the Costa Concordia and now the ferry called the Norman Atlantic which suffered a fire starting in the auto area, and people were killed but vast numbers saved.  The Italian forces were all over this and with Greek help, did a good job.  But there will be questions, more because nobody can tell us how many were actually aboard that ship.

This is a Third World issue.  People atop trains, jammed into box cars, holding on to the carriage beneath.  Italy is not Third World. This isn't status, it's safety and common decency to know who the hell is aboard and if they're missing.

No tales of sabotage, but god knows that may well be the case or, worse, someone will insist it is.  They're going over the ship they towed to port to hose it down and find the dead aboard not recovered.  The entire rescue was done in a high velocity storm and probably nobody could have done a better job.  Italians feel the scrutiny, almost all undeserved.

But the Costa Concordia 'Captain' was a Lotharian asshole of the first water whose attempt to impress some women killed people. He says he hit a reef not mapped. Unlikely. And he and his crew were not the last off the ship.  Some, of course, remained aboard for months till found. But these few truths flame the myth.



Worse, of course, is the plight of Asian airlines, near all Indonesian or involving flights from Indonesia. They entirely lost a Chinese airliner last year, still not found, and they lost the one last week.  Push to shove, their pilots were insufficiently trained, and the claim they were not allowed to climb above a huge storm because there was too much traffic above them (over the Java Sea, recall......) strikes me as implausible.  If so, those routes need be redone to give pilots more options than 'steady on the course'.  I'll also bet they can't be sure who was on the plane either.  

France lost an airliner over the Atlantic last year, quickly found.  Pilot error.  There are too many planes in the hands of those not qualified.  Everywhere.  That needs to be policed by the UN.  



This afternoon a few miles east of me a trailer was overturned by wind on the Longmont Diagonal.  There was not a whisper of it here, not a leaf.  There are rumors of all sorts of new variations of tornadoes and downdrafts and other horrors for planes and vehicles at speed.  So, I'm curious.  But no word on how this happened.  Suspect is was not designed for the speed it had obtained, and lesser winds overturned it.  Still.....


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

HBO is cleaning house.  True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, and  The Newsroom have been completed with the lattermost's finale this Sunday.  It was flawed, but I enjoyed it.  Possibly age, possibly bad taste, possibly a strain of romanticism is responsible for my opinion.

But, I still think the show was better than most, with a great cast, and it hit topics that nobody else does, and if characters give monologues, well, so do Shakespeare's and most super heroes, something critics rarely mention.  And if you've worked in journalism as I did - sorta kinda - more rings true here than not.  

There was a dearth of activity - extras cost, of course - at ACN, and there was this odd correspondence between Andy Hardy's 'let's do a show!' and the presented excitement of doing a news program, with group claps before rushing from the office into the bullpen.  

What Sorkin writes may or may not directly reflect his views. I think they might just be the plausible views of the characters.  People - mostly of the Chickenhawk Right but sometimes of the Yet Closeted Gay Left - want to converse with Sorkin and win arguments based upon what may not be his views at all, on topics he put forward, and in a manner they cannot do or imagine doing with any other show writer.  Breaking Bad was a great show, but it did not attempt what Sorkin does with annoying regularity: like his shows or hate them, he has a gift for melding the trivial to great issues and making you talk about them.

The Newsroom started with a rant/speech that was homage to a fictional era of television news, run by 'great men' who kept us 'informed' and allowed the nation to become the best at everything for quite a while, leading to lead Will McAvoy's conclusion that we were no longer the greatest nation in the world. The character, albeit a Republican, is a romantic and loves olde musicals, which forms the back drop for several episodes. Musicals, once popular, are handy weapons in the hands of a skilled writer because they can be Metaphor Alert - Ham Fisted or mere reference to one of the few common frames of reference people middle aged and up have. Well.  Plus Glee enthusiasts.

But the Murrow era was not remotely like that, and we were monumentally misinformed.  Sorkin ignorant of that?  Gee.  My money is on 'no'.  McAvoy WAS the greater fool, title of Season 1's finale and the point of the entire first ten episodes, hammered into place by a final scene with the graduate from Northwestern and the Business Editor Sloan Sabbith (Olivia Munn).  She tells him, that Greater Fools should be revered and are needed, as the US gave them room to flounder to the profit of others but also to general benefit of the nation.  To a large degree the nation WAS built by greater fools.  And the season ends with another welcomed aboard.  

It IS corny.  And surprisingly moving, a Sorkin gift.



In the penultimate episode, many of these issues are raised, again, and those who write about The Newsroom feign being appalled. The episode was about rape and the network's sale and citizen journalists and the folk song "Shenandoah" and Skinner's death.  Couple of things.  Yes, it was corny if not 'over the top' for Skinner to die and serve as symbol of the Golden Age of Journalism dying with him.  Also, the couple hero-protagonists have lost in their 'quest' to improve something mentioned in the Constitution as rather important.

Critics bemoan the rendition of Shenandoah but I think, as usual, they miss Sorkin's point.  Or attempted point, or point he may never have thought of, but my regard for him is such, I think he chose it for this purpose.

Shenandoah, also "Across The Wide Missouri", at its earliest known conception was the haunting song of a guy  hot for an Indian chief's daughter, but he has to leave.  Sad.  But, as incredibly lovely as the melody, available harmony and sentiment, recall that women were bought and sold at young ages back then, willing or no.  This, today, is not romantic.  It's rape if not pedophilia.  So, whether the chief and the (probably) French trader/soldier could not agree to a price OR she rejected him and the father backed her OR he plans to kidnap her or another reason totally, it's not a song devoid of evil.

That it first appears before the door is shut behind the reporter and the young woman in her room and is the last sound heard on the episode does not strike me as inappropriate or randomly convenient, given discussion is about rape and its definition.  It's a reflection of those times, still with us, where women are units of currency.  How the characters in the show would interpret the song and that the audience would argue with them, strikes me as rather cunning and well done.  People seem to have missed that.

But then, those who miss it are entirely wrong about how women are presented in Sorkin. They're always incompetent, always dependent upon men, is the contention.  Who?  They're certainly no weirder than the men, often stronger, generally more self aware, and better people in general as well as higher ranking, smarter, and funnier.
 
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