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I dont know how to talk about it, because it just doesnt seem real. After a prolonged legal battle in the wake of a shoddy trial, the state of Georgi executed Troy Davis tonight. I didnt want to hope…i didnt want to believe maybe justice would get a chance this time, but i really really thought maybe the disintegration of the case against him might cause the supreme court to reconsider this planned murder. I just feel heart-sick. I hurt for Troy and his family, for the family of the man he was accused of killing, i hurt for the hundreds if not thousands who sit on death row in this country, some of whom are innocent, but none of whom deserve to die at the hands of the state. I am so ashamed of our justice system right now, so ashamed of the cowards who lack the moral fiber to take a stand… we have a lot of nerve complaining about the way other countries treat their population when we have state sponsored and run executions. It’s an ugly night for America, and a disheartening night with the extinguishing of another life.
Update 9-22-2011 I have learned of another execution in Texas last night, of a man named Lawrence Brewer. He was accused and convicted of a violent murder back in 1993. There was never much doubt of his guilt, and he had little support, and certainly little or no protest or activism on his behalf. His life and death are now almost an afterthought…it is troubling that I…we… are so transfixed by the murder of Troy Davis, yet relatively few have Lawrence Brewer on their minds today. If we take the stance that Troy Davis’ execution was abhorrent, it seems extremely dissonant that we dont feel the same urgency about Lawrence Brewer…I feel ashamed that I didnt even know this man Brewer, and that he was killed in my name last night.
It was a great night to finish up the 2011 Season of Music in Mears concerts. 3 acts were on the lineup and they were great. The Katie Todd Band was up first, and they reminded me of Ingrid Michaelson, with a mix of shoe-gaze-y singer-songwriter music and energetic jam band funk. The eponymous singer had a strong voice, although I wanted her to push harder–it felt like at many of the climaxes, where i expected her to let our a roar, she plateaued, but she was strong, and her band was solid. It was a lot of fun to watch her bassist and her drummer play off of one another. Her bassist was awesome, throwing in lots of flourishes and runs that played around on the edges of the songs adding complexity and depth without derailing the rest of the groove.
The second act was either Dead Peasants or Jef Lee Johnson & Friends. I think it’s the same people, but there was confusion about which incarnation was at the event. Anyways, the group is kinda hard to genre-ize, as some of their music felt like straight up contemporary jazz, while other songs were like avant-garde rock, while some felt like being at a psychedelic JImi Hendrix concert. They covered an impressive amount of genre ground in an hour. The lead guitarist (Jeff lee Johnson?) was astoundingly good. He went from playing Earl Klugh-esque riffs to shredding like Slash, and hit many notes in between. I was shocked. I have never heard of the guy. His drummer was on point, adding bits and pieces of sound and rhythm all over the place. He seldom sat still or just rode the beat. Finally, his bassist was amazing. His solos, which were too few!, were just breath-taking, and he would just create a funky beat and sit in it for sections, and it was hard to not just get up and hug the man after their set. I had a lot of fun listening to him especially.
The final act of the night, and the season, was local artist Haley Bonar. She was exceptional; literally radiant on stage. She was accompanied by a fantastic guitarist, whose name i have forgotten, but his playing was a great complement to hers, generally adding washed-out, distorted, plaintive accents to her own guitar and voice work. Ive been following Haley for years and years, since learning she was a South Dakota native too, and have seen her live a couple times in the Twin Cities, and this was by far the coolest concert of hers I have seen. She forgot the power cord to her Wurlitzer, so she played the entire set on guitar, which was absolutely fine by me.
I particularly enjoyed “Green Eye’d Boy,” “SIlver Zephyrs,” & “Kid October” but she played a lot of great songs.
The only downside to the set was the swarm of little kids who decided it was cool to have an “i need attention” fest directly in front of Haley, so much of my footage is marred by children running in and out of frame over and over, and screaming. It was cute for about 15 minutes, then i wanted to throttle their parents. Oh well. I will add some videos if I got any decent ones, over the weekend.
Sarah Palin is a dangerous historian (read: bad) and Americans deserve better.
I don’t care for Sarah Palin so I’ll admit some bias but her insistence that Paul Revere undertook his famous ride (solely) to warn the British that they couldn’t take our guns or beat our militia is probably the baldest piece of misrepresentation/balderdash I have ever seen a politician display. Now, it is true that Revere was eventually captured and told the British who captured him that there was an exaggerated number of militiamen preparing to oppose them. But the purpose of his ride was not to scare the British, it was to prepare the colonists. To paint it otherwise is ridiculous.
I guess what is appalling to me is how this is indicative of a move away from enlightened politics and politicians towards beer-buddy elected officials. Candidates of (at least *SOME*) substance are being replaced by candidates with flashing smiles, charm, and a mouthful of talking points.
It seems a rudimentary grasp of American history should be a self-imposed requirement for seeking public office. Why else run for the office, unless you have traced our historical trajectory, analyzed it, and determined that your understanding and talents can correct the course. Without perspective on how we arrived where we are presently, how can we address our current ails and prepare for the future. I am not ashamed to say i want experts, i want smart people, i want people of vision and understanding leading our country. I don’t want my best friends, i don’t want the folks i drink with. I don’t want cool or funny people. I want capable people. If they happen to be some of the other thing, that is icing. I will gladly support a dull, homely candidate if I believe they have the right stuff to make change happen. If you have seen Idiocracy you see this sort of political system taken to its ridiculous extreme
Why are we turning our governance over to people who apparently don’t know much about it outside of talking points? I cant know if Palin was handed that tiny “fact” by a handler somewhere along the line to deploy for PR sake, or if she has genuinely believed that it to be true, and i guess it doesn’t matter, really. But Americans should demand leadership that goes beyond talking points, colloquialisms and hot air. We should demand substance.
if Palin at least had the grace to admit she fumbled the facts, I could just chuckle and /facepalm and move on, but she is adamant that she’s got history right here. Ugh. she even says “we need to have a strong grasp of our foundational history”
sometimes i am embarassed to be american 😦
So i finally got around to watching the Book of Eli, which friends and coworkers have been telling me I should see for something like two years.
Short Review: Definitely worth a viewing, although problematic
Longer Review: There is a lot to like about this film. Denzel Washington is fantastically cast as the title character, and manages to carry off a fairly challenging job of being both badass and gentle-soul, without heavy-handedness or too much awkward hand ringing. Mila Kunis manages to not get in the way, which is actually saying a lot, given that her character, as written, is one dimensional and uninteresting. Gary Oldman is bizarre in this film, although I cannot really blame him, as it is pretty probable that he was working with what he was given. (Side note: f you disliked Rango’s evilguy, you will probably find some resonance with Oldman’s character).
The post-apocalyptic world is breathtaking. Let me repeat that: the post-apocalyptic world is breathtaking. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this world. Although there are no shortage of films, spanning several genres–horror, sci-fi, drama– that tackle the world after a calamity, few have made me more curious as to what happened, and how on earth people eek a living out of the rubble. The authors/directors give us little in the way of back story, in fact, just enough to put your mind on the right rails. Outside of that, you are allowed to construct your own histories and explanations. Some people might dislike this…I found it refreshing. Does it really matter *who* Eli is? No. No it doesn’t. What matters is what he’s doing and why. I give a lot of credit to the directors for having the chutzpah to not explain things.
anyways, the story is unwieldy at times, and several developments don’t seem to make logical sense, but generally things move along at a good pace and resolutions come about where you feel they ought to.
In terms of technique, the films looks great. The washed out colors and general shabbiness of everything really helps the piece feel like a period piece. Fights are well-choreographed and stark, almost like the Bourne Series fights. Well done.
Um. I could say more but it’s late. I heartily recommend the film to anyone with 2 hours to kill and a yen for some unique storytelling.
Gil Scott Heron
My mother introduced me to Gil Scott Heron one night when i was home visiting about 3 years ago. I was taking her on a tour of the youtubes, and she wondered aloud if there would be a video of Gil Scott Heron, and i assured her that there would be (is there anything not on youtube?) and sure enough there were many many videos of him. I had no idea who who was, although I’ve known some of his work for much of my life…
He may be most well known for his era defining piece “the revolution will not be televised”
My favorite songs of his are Pieces of a Man and We Almost Lost Detroit.
I am not a wrestling fan, i dont know who the big names are nowadays and havent really watched a ’bout’ orwhatever theyre called since probably the late 80s, but when i read the news today that Randall Mario Poffo (aka Macho Man Randy Savage) died tragically today as a result of a heart attack and related accident, I was surprised about how said I felt. When i was a youngster I watched Savage and Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant and the Junk Yard dog, and all those folks avidly. I loved the pageantry of it i suppose–the larger than life personae and the ridiculous feuds. There is something wonderfully earnest, as i look back, about wrestling, guiltlessly tongue-in-cheek, fully over the top and unapologetic. I sorta feel like I’ve become such a cynic and so jaded about what I consume for entertainment that I have lost the ability to appreciate things like the wrestling of my childhood. I dont plan to start watching wrestling…it doesnt interest me anymore. But I do think I will go back and watch some old time videos of Macho Man Randy Savage tonight and indulge in some nostalgia. Thank you Randall, for coloring my childhood. Thankyou for being part of memories that i will look back on fondly for the rest of my days. I wish you well on this next stage of your journey.
Rest in peace Randall
A nice youtube tribute vid from way back in 2008:
A great vid from Nicepeter where “Randy” makes a cameo appearance.