Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Philadelphia's Noir Prince"

The comprehensive Skinny on David Goodis (including a You Tube preview of "David Goodis...To A Pulp" the forthcoming documentary film by Larry Withers, son of "the mysterious Elaine") can be found on Aaron Finestone's site and its subsites ("D.G. in Hollywood") ("Shooting pool with David Goodis")("GoodisCon").

Finestone prefaces his compilations with a quote from the opening of Goodis' first novel, Retreat From Oblivion (1939): "After a while it gets so bad you want to stop the whole business. You figure there's no use in trying to fight back. Things are dead set against you and the sooner you give up the better."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Film, Politics, Literature

Recommended Autumn Equinox Movie: TELL NO ONE (Ne Le Dis A Personne)


(updated Sept. 12th; Sept. 29th/30th; Oct. 1st)

It is difficult to support the Obama/Biden ticket for the reasons below. If it weren't for their hard-line support of off-shore oil drilling, and the slaughter of animals in Alaska, I would even be tempted to vote Republican for the first time in my life, though it's a passing temptation.

I am not a Nader-person, and I believe that he as much as anyone was responsible for the election of Bush II, in 2000, though, as someone once remarked, it doesn't matter how you vote. What matters is who counts the votes. Or in the case of electronic machines, what....

Still, he should be given the opportunity to participate in the so-called debates, and from my point of view, perhaps if he had offered the VP slot to Sanders of Vermont enough interest and commotion might have been created to make that happen. Neverthelesss, it remains clear to me that a vote for Nader is probably a vote for McCain.

I suppose it has not been since Eugene Debs (!) that the "Left" in the U.S. has ever gotten it together to unite. There is always squabbling, so that socialist workers and socialist labor parties and the Greens and all the others just don't seem to care enough about people's welfare to cease bickering and form a viable and lasting third party alternative to the republicrats.

My father was a Roosevelt-Stevenson liberal, and served 9 terms in the Pennsylvania Legislature (1954-'72) before retiring, and he co-authored and sponsored the first Fair Employment Practices Commission Act in that State.

I wouldn't want him to turn in his proverbial, and rather than considering voting McCain-Palin, I will exercise my right not to vote. Although "it is pretty to think so" perhaps if one acts in this Kantian imperative way the results might turn out as they did in Saramago's Seeing. Despite my opposition to the Vietnam War back then (I resisted the draft, did not "dodge" it like Clinton) and my opposition to the Iraq War and the subsequent occupations, McCain undeniably showed a sense of honor and courage those years ago, and despite Palin's anti-abortion stance, she backed it up, obviously. And I cannot believe, whomsoever is appointed, that the Court will overturn Roe v. Wade entirely, intruding itself thus into a woman's body, and returning us to the days of illegal backstreet abortion. In terms of gun-control, no party supports disarming the people, so even the NRA has become almost a non-issue in many respects, especially now that the "strict constructionists" of the Court have in fact legislated the way they have about people's rights to a weapon. Myself, I think it a tenuous right, given the fact that there are not many who purchase a weapon are in a "well-regulated militia." Certainly the right is nowhere near absolute, so what do the Democrats favor? Not selling sub-machine guns to felons? Allowing only one firearm purchase a month, as Obama has proposed? It's a bloody (excuse the pun) joke. Nor does either party really care to initiate a civilzed health care system for ALL Americans, modelled perhaps on the NHS in Britain, so that doctors and patients have the right to go private if they so choose, and the red herring of "socialized medicine" is removed. The Clinton Presidency went down the tubes first on this issue because a National Health Service in more than name only would require a complete long-term restructuring of how things work, what our priorities are, including medical school tuition, and how hospitals are run, not just a challenge to the motivation and dedication of doctors and researchers, and of course to the power of private insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Biden is an admitted plagiarist from back in his law school days, and this is quite forgettable/forgivable, except he seems to have continued to do this throughout his career, most recently in the Neal Kinnock working-class roots speech. I don't believe Biden has working-class roots in any substantive sense anyway, and out of law school only a few years he is elected to the Senate at age 29/30, so he can hardly be said to have worked at all! And in the Senate, how many overseas jaunts on taxpayers' money, and for what? To jaw with foreign leaders and tour about. No, I am no advocate, in spite of his votes against Roberts and Alito, which didn't, really, take any politcal courage at all.

Senator Obama keeps changing his position on each issue on which he has taken a stand. First he was against the Iraq War, then he said let's wait 16 months to withdraw troops because of what the military says, and then he says we'll send more troops to Afghanistan! I am sure the Afghan people were delighted to hear that. He says people in small-town Pennsylvania were embittered and thus clung to religion and guns (which I think is accurate), but when challenged, he said "that is not what I meant at all / that is not it, at all." He said he was against oil drilling off-shore, then he said, well, we will have to reconsider, given energy dependence. Now he even says that we have the right to violate Pakistan's borders looking for "terrorists" - which is exactly what Palin has said.

However, this couplet from a poem by James Norman Hall (*) conveys a primary reason I cannot vote for McCain/Palin either. Written while he was as he writes "...en route by train from San Francisco to Los Angeles where Nordhoff's parents lived at that time. Along the beautiful coast between the two cities I saw oil wells in the sea - even in the sea!" - and reacted to the profanation in a sonnet ending with the following lines:

"They must be vermin, surely, who defile
 Their very Homeland coasts, mile after mile."

Perhaps it's all just show-biz now. And the "lesser of two evils" riposte went out the window after '64, and in 1968. But I will watch the debates..........


M.K. of Madison, Wisconsin, says: Sarah Palin is our Eva Peron. Especially after Obama's lipstick-on-a-pig comment, I can only respond Viva Evita!

And Viva Tina Fey!

(Although a bit wary of admitting it in today's climate, and not wishing to be labelled a "creationist" or in any way near that camp (though on another level of discourse, why should we trust scientists?) I think, since, for the artist "all time is contemporaneous" - that it is a rather poetic thought that humans and dinosaurs were, as she said, on earth at the same time!)



(*) Hall is one of our most under-regarded post WWI writers. In a very early poem, he coined the phrase "band of brothers" - and for anyone interested, his posthumously published book, THE FORGOTTEN ONE, which includes his great essay "Frisbie of Danger Island" is a good place to begin reading. In another couplet unfortunately becoming prescient, he wrote of the America he loved:

A ruined land: the forests, prairies, gone;
Slums measureless, the rivers foul with slime.