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Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Blog, Movie Reviews, Politics, What's Left | 3 comments

Thank You Clint Eastwood, For Making My Day — “The Bad, The Worse, and The Ugly”

 

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Photo

 

“Dirty Harry” has finally run out of bullets.

He went 13 minutes instead of only five, he got unlucky, and ended up looking like a punk on national television.

If Clint Eastwood’s act last night would have instead been an audition, his movie career might have been over in an instant.

Yes, it was that bad.

Eastwood’s appearance at the critical moment of the final night of the 2012 Republican National Convention was quite possibly the most painful moment in any political theater within the past twenty years.  Reminiscent of Admiral John Stockdale’s cringe-inducing verbal drool in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate, the iconic 82-year-old actor took last night’s stage at the very twinkling of what was supposed to be national coronation.  Instead, his stammering speech ended up as such a distraction, he made a totally incoherent Stockdale seem like William F. Buckley, by comparison.

No one could have possibly seen it coming.  In fact, the buildup was right on schedule.

For the better part of two hours, the Republican Party establishment had to be creaming all over themselves.  Their presidential nominee had largely been humanized for the very first time (no small feat) to tens of millions of viewers and voters — many tuning into the political season for the first time.  This was largely achieved by roasting up the all-too-familiar emotional chestnuts manipulatively designed to somehow transform a cold-hearted venture capitalist who made hundeds of millions busting up companies and outsourcing jobs into a warm and fuzzy stuffed teddy bear – you know, an electable human being.  Sort of like a political Frankenstein.

Misson largely accomplished, next one of Hollywood’s most revered film legends — particularly to right-wing gun nuts — took the grand stage and then went completey fucking bonkers batshit crazy.   Watching the ad lib act and witnessing the carnage of a cherished actor and director who has given society so many memorable roles and memories, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Blog, Politics, What's Left | 3 comments

Murder in Black and White

 

murder-in-black-and-white

 

A few days ago, a white woman was murdered in St. Louis.

You may have heard about this tragic story.  It was posted everywhere.  The 23-year-old woman, a former college volleyball player, was attacked in the front seat of her car in a parking lot and killed.  She was shot to death.  No one knows why.  The killer is still at large.

Everyone described the young woman as a wonderful person.  She was pretty.  She was popular.  She had her whole future ahead of her – tragically cut short in an act of utter senselessness.  Her photo is posted above.

But what else happened that same day? What else happened on the very day that Megan Boken died?

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Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Blog, What's Left | 0 comments

An Intellectual Lion: Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Gore Vidal Photo

 

Gore Vidal died yesterday.

In obituaries which appeared over that last 24 hours, he’s been described as a writer and protagonist.

He wrote.

He ran for office (losing both times).

He commented.

He thought.

And, he provoked — and he certainly did that far better than most.

Like his more recent now deceased contemporaries Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and William F. Buckley and in the mold of great thinkers of yesteryear such as H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, and even Mark Twain, he was a fixture on the intellectual circuit.  He basked in the spotlight in a time when writers were afforded the same celebrity as rock stars.  One colleague pined, “he was the man who knew everyone.”

Vidal was a wildly controversial figure, no doubt.  Audiences — those who cared enough about society and culture to follow his ceaseless parade of provocation, now increasingly dissolved in what’s spawned into a grotesque 140-character Twitterized world — would describe his ideas as eccentric and hopelessly out of touch.

As if that’s a “bad thing.”

To the contrary.  We need more eccentrics.  We need more thinkers who are out of touch.  And, we need more Gore Vidals.  And sadly, we now have one less.

The intent of a great writer and meaningful prose should not be — to be right all the time.  Writing, discussion, debate, inquiry, and ultimately provocation is not about prim and proper conformity to expectations and comfort zones.  Indeed, great writers should shun such a horrifying prospect.  You will forgive me for admitted bias, but whatever inside the box “is,” the thinker should be standing on the outside and perhaps as far away from the middle as possible.  And few stood any further from the apex of old-fashioned traditions as Gore Vidal.

Indeed, great writer does not necessarily implant what one must think.  But he (or she) should inspire one TO THINK.

There is a profound difference.  And no one understood that different better than Vidal and his fellow lions of intellect.

Gore Vidal did plenty of thinking, urging others to contemplate their own existence, their own sense of right and wrong, during an 86-year adventure, ultimately a fruitful life filled with the handiwork of books, plays , articles, essays , debate appearances, speeches, and participation in all forums which encouraged the free exchange of ideas.

This has been a tough year for writers, no doubt.  Eight months ago, we lost Christopher Hitchens, a thinker of extraordinary immensity.  Now, we have lost another.

Although I never met Vidal, I think of myself as someone who knew him — through his words and ideas.  Perhaps his greatest contribution and of those like him was to inspire others to carry on and push the envelope of ideas, to challenge conventionalism, and blaze new paths towards enlightenment.

In your memory, Mr. Vidal.  Thank you.

 

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal, What's Left | 0 comments

Hitting Life’s Reset Button

Life's Reset Button

 

If you could go back and live your life all over again, would you?

I suppose most of us would answer – it depends.

Let’s say you could turn back the clock  and relive your life with the benefit of all the knowledge you now possess.  Given the inherent wonders of knowing what the future would bring, most of us would agree to a replay.  Let’s say you could go back to 1969 and bet on the New York Jets or take full advantage of MicroSoft’s 1986 IPO, you’d be very wealthy indeed.

Then there is the “Dead Zone” prospect of going back and purposefully changing the future.  For instance, who among us would not feel compelled to try and alter the terrible course of events which occurred on September 11, 2001?

But what about going back in time and facing utter uncertainty?  Would you choose to live your life over again and then be willing to accept the consequences if things were to turn out very differently?

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