A photo process that used a metal plate and electrical charge to take trippy, often spectral-looking pictures, Kirlian photography was thought at one point to perhaps be able to reveal the “auras” of its subjects. Could it read the mental states of people whose thumbs were photographed? Could it tell who was suffering from cancer before other tests could reveal the disease? No, it couldn’t. The process was discovered by accident in 1939 by Russian inventor Semyon Kirlian, who spent a decade developing the equipment with his wife, Valentina. While oddly beautiful to look at, it ultimately had no scientific application. Footage is from UCLA in 1974, when that university was heavily researching parapsychology.
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Elaine Stritch, who was a corker and also a wang dang doodle, sadly just passed away. Here she is excoriating David Letterman in 1996, just about a decade before 30 Rock provided her with an amazing late-career TV role. Fucking Colleen.
Speaking of a romantic age of advertising, here are videos of David Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mather; and George Lois, who is responsible, along with Harold Hayes, for the classic Esquire covers, and on his own for the “I Want My MTV” campaign. The Ogilvy clip is from the ’60s and the Lois from 1974.
If you’re interested in advertising, New York City in the ’60s, Mad Men or the subtle levers of the free market, “The Quiet Persuader,” a 1967 installment of the BBC’s Inside America series, is great fun. It profiles Young & Rubicam exec Steve Frankfurt at 33, during the middle of that decade when the industry was flush and fascinating, when TV, the medium in which he excelled, was becoming the center of the ad world. Frankfurt’s work was so highly regarded that he was even hired to create the title sequence for To Kill a Mockingbird and other films. His first wife, Suzie, who also appears in the documentary, was a highly regarded interior designer and a friend and collaborator of Andy Warhol.
There’s probably room for just one Las Vegas in America, especially now that gambling is decentralized and ubiquitous, even on that screen in your shirt pocket. Vegas itself makes less money these days from gaming than non-gaming attractions (dining, shopping, shows, etc.). Atlantic City’s casino culture has always been a fraught thing, and now that the chips are falling where they may, the dealers beat, it’s hard to predict what comes next. From the Economist:
“Talk of diversifying the city’s economy is not new. In 2010 Chris Christie became New Jersey’s governor with talk about making Atlantic City more family-friendly, a ‘Las Vegas East.’ He created a commission to look at gaming in the state. A year later he launched a five-year plan to increase conventions, retail and tourism. Last year he gave a tax break to Revel, as the struggling casino had an unusual business model that relied more on revenues from conventions and regular tourists. Non-gambling visitors could easily avoid the casino floor, which until a year ago was also smoke-free. But gamblers fled the casino in greater numbers, and Revel now looks doomed.
Since the 1970s the casinos have delivered essential lucre to New Jersey’s coffers. Atlantic County, which includes Atlantic City, represents 20% of the state’s tourism industry, and tourism is the third-most important industry to the state. To manage Atlantic City’s waning appeal, New Jersey politicians are now seriously mulling a plan to bring casinos to Jersey City, which lies just across the Hudson River from New York City. This would be a big gamble: not only would it involve changing the law and holding a referendum, but also it would further deter travel to Atlantic City.
It is also not clear that more casinos would help.”
“You sense the excitement and challenge of change on the way”:
In an excellent piece of writing, a Foreign Affairs review of a pair of new books, Keith Gessen tackles the question of Russia’s utter oddness, wondering why the heart of the former Soviet Union chooses to live in a fairy tale when it knows such a thing can never have a happy ending. An excerpt:
“The man sitting next to me — Sergei, I’ll call him — was also drunk, and he decided to engage me in a discussion of geopolitics. He said he was a graduate of MEPhI, an elite technical university in Moscow, and that he had made millions in software design. Sergei was, theoretically, the sort of Russian who might be expected to be critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he was not. He was thrilled that Russia had seized Crimea, if only because in doing so, it had extended a big middle finger to the West. Sure, the United States was stronger than Russia, but it was stretched thin. And Russia was unpredictable, which gave it an advantage.
‘Oh, we’ll lose,’ Sergei said, ‘like we always lose. But what a lot of laughs there’ll be along the way!’
We landed soon after that, but the conversation stuck with me. I kept thinking — I keep thinking — what, exactly, is wrong with Russia? Why is it still so aggressive nearly 30 years after the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched the process of ‘normalizing’ Russia and its relations with the world? Why, despite two decades of optimistic predictions that it was on the path to becoming, or was on the verge of becoming, or had already become a ‘normal’ country, had it never become one? Why couldn’t it be more like Germany, another country that used to invade other countries but now focuses on making quality automobiles and protecting the health of the euro?
At least part of the trouble is that Russians have never been able to agree on what ‘normal’ means.”
“Because of him, we have political instability!”:
Tags: Keith Gessen
Because it was inevitable, Timothy Leary once met Charles Manson. In prison, of course–Folsom to be exact. The LSD guru had been apprehended by the FBI in Afghanistan and extradited. One of his cellmates was the Helter Skelter dipshit. Leary documented the meeting in a 1976 article in OUI, a muckraking magazine that once uncovered Pia Zadora’s ass. The article’s opening:
“Commodore Leri, Agent from Central Intelligence assigned to earth, third planet of the G-type Star, sits on the bench of the holding cell of Soledad Prison, dressed in the white jump suit worn by transferees. On his left, John O’Neill, a slick good-looking big-city Irishman down for ten to life for murder two. To his right, a tall, slim, pretty cowboy named Ted with Indian cheekbones and a deep tan. Ted babbles evasively. He has been in and out of the joint for years and has the reputation of being a professional fuck-up. (‘He ain’t playing with a full deck,’ whispers O’Neill. ‘He’s one of the girls and a snitch, too.’) The three hold one-way tickets to the Dark Tower, and that has formed a bond among them. The Dark Tower is Folsom, a trans-Einsteinian Black Hole in the Earth Galaxy from which nothing ever escapes but feeble red radiation.
Leri had done some primatology research in Hollywood after the Tate-LaBianca murders and was fascinated by the wave of fright that swept through the film colony. The chic reaction was to install gate locks, which were opened by remote control after visitors identified themselves over an intercom. Whatever solace this arrangement provided, it certainly would not have thwarted the creepy-crawly Mansonites, who avoided the gate at the Tate house because they suspected that it was electrified. So Leri wrote a memoir for OUI magazine to show that none of the human fears that Manson systematically exploited can be neutralized by external defenses. These terrors, he wrote, are internal neurological reactions and, in order to understand Manson, one must understand the neurology of human fear.
Manson, it was said, stimulated fear in others in order to gain power.
‘One aspect of Manson’s philosophy especially puzzled me: his strange attitude toward fear,’ Vincent Bugliosi says in Helter Skelter. ‘He not only preached that fear as beautiful, he often told the family that they should live in a constant state of fear. What did he mean by that? I asked Paul [Watkins, Manson's second-in-command].
‘To Charlie, fear was the same thing as awareness, Watkins said. The more fear you have, the more awareness, hence the more love. When you’re really afraid, you come to ‘Now.’ And when you are at Now, you are totally conscious.’
Let us give credit where credit is due: Manson’s manipulation of fear has its roots in the paranoia behind the Cold War military posture, the antidrug scare campaigns, the addictive success of the most-popular movies and crime shows, the actions of all bureaucracy and law-enforcement agencies, and the operation of our penal institutions.
Before we can understand Manson, we must realize that a prison system is a microcosm of a culture and that the American prison system is run on raw fear and violence.”
Leary (sans Manson) interviewed at Folsom.
Candace Bergen working as a photojournalist at a 1976 Whitney Museum bodybuilding exhibit (“The Body as Art”), with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the star (of course). An outtake from Pumping Iron.
Is there a broader acceptance of the body these days, as an offshoot of the sexual revolution of the Sixties?
Yes. I’ve been in America for only eight years, but there’s been a change and it’s getting better. It’s happening in Europe, too. People are more at ease with their bodies.
Being at ease is one thing, but whatever possessed you to pose for the Whitney Museum?
A woman from The New York Times had been doing a piece on body building. She came to the gym and asked if Corney and I would pose at the museum. I thought at once that it was a terrific idea. I’d always wanted to tell people that when I work on my body I’m thinking about classical sculpture, so I jumped at the chance to show off body building as an art form. After the show, a lot of people came backstage and said it was fantastic, that they’d never thought of body building as art before.
Didn’t you feel like a pet monkey performing for the East Side ladies?
No, I felt great because I was the first athlete to be in a museum displaying his work of art, which just happened to be my physique. Overall, it was a great success. What does piss me off, though, is when people try to trick me into going to parties. You know, rich people in Beverly Hills who want to make the gossip columns.”
Speaking of Nazis, the top photograph offers an odd juxtaposition: That’s Wernher von Braun, a rocketeer who was a hands-on part of Hitler’s mad plan, whose horrid past was whitewashed by the U.S. government (here and here) because he could help America get a man on the moon; with Willy Ley, a German science writer and space-travel visionary who fled the Third Reich in 1935. A cosmopolitan in an age before globalization, Ley only wanted to share science across the word and encourage humans into space and onto the moon. He knew early on Nazism was madness leading to mass graves, not space stations. When Ley arrived in America after using falsified documents to escape Germany, he worked a bit on an odd rocket-related program: Ley led an effort to use missiles to deliver mail. It was a long way to go to get postcards from point A to point B, and an early attempt failed much to the chagrin of Ley, who donned a spiffy asbestos suit for the blast-off. Here’s the story of the plan’s genesis in the February 21, 1935 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
“It may be a long time before you can take a trip to the moon or to Mars in a rocket, but the time is not far off when rockets will be used to carry mail and to catapult airplanes from ships or from the ground.
This, according to Willy Ley of Berlin, who arrived today on Cunard-White Star liner Olympic for a seven-month stay in the United States, during which time he will work on the development of the rocket with G. Edward Pendray of Crestwood, N.J. Mr. Pendray is president of the American Rocket Society.
Mr. Ley said that a friend in Austria had used rockets successfully in the delivery of mail between two towns, only two and a half miles apart, but separated by high mountains. In a very short time, he said, the rocket may supplant all other means of mail delivery.
Its use as a catapult for airplanes, he said would make it possible to equip planes with smaller engines, because airplane engines now require most of their horsepower to take off and can do without it in the air. By using rocket as a catapult, this extra horsepower would not be necessary, he pointed out.
Also on the Olympic were Dr. Walter Braun, young German physician, who has come to live with his brother, Fred Braun of 468 8th St., Brooklyn; William M.L. Fiske, recently chosen captain of the American bobsled team which is to compete in the coming Olympics, who has been in Europe on business; the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, who will visit friends in South Carolina. The ship was a day late due to terrific headwinds it met in the crossing.”
In 1952, Ley being interviewed, preposterously, about flying saucers, and also about space travel:
Dubai, which is taking the lead in the air, hopes to forge ahead with air-conditioning as well, announcing plans for the first temperature-controlled, indoor city, the Mall of the World. I want to know more about the “specialized surgical procedures and cosmetic treatments” available in the “Wellness District,” which will cater to “medical tourists.” If the emirate’s real-estate market is as much a bubble as some think it is, we may have the first ghost town with a quiet-cool setting. From Belinda Lanks at Businessweek:
“Dubai is the land of superlatives. It already lays claim to the tallest building and the biggest fish tank in the world. Now the city has unveiled plans to build the largest mall and biggest indoor theme park in what will be the first temperature-controlled mini-city.
The 8-million-square-foot shopping center, dubbed Mall of the World, will include 100 hotels, a medical resort, event facilities, and a theater district—all of which can be shielded from the elements by a large retractable roof. The project, according to the developer, Dubai Holding, will be built ‘in phases in alignment with the gradual growth of family tourism in Dubai.’
Attracting shoppers from abroad is the goal.”
“Catering to medical tourists in a 3-million sq. ft. area”:
Tags: Belinda Lanks
Marjoe Gortner was a California-born charismatic child preacher with an overflowing collection plate who grew out of religion and revealed secrets about evangelistic crowd manipulation. Excerpts from two 1970s People articles by Lois Armstrong about Marjoe’s life after he threw off the cloak and pulled back the curtain.
From 1976′s “Ex-Kid Gospeler Marjoe Is Hollywood’s New Gun for Hire“:
“It seems fitting that the movie Food of the Gods should star Marjoe Gortner, once a child preacher on the revivalist circuit. As a sermonizer he dwelt on the terrors of hellfire. In Food he is still dealing in fear, but considerably diluted—it’s just a cheapjack monster film. Born again, Marjoe no longer makes his jack in the pulpit. He put his evangelistic soul on ice four years ago with Marjoe, the Oscar-winning documentary that detailed how he preached his first sermon at 4 and by 12 had fleeced his flock of an estimated $3 million.
But at 32, the show goes on for Marjoe. In his view, he’s just shifted his stage from sweaty tents in Appalachia to sweaty sound stages in Hollywood. ‘My whole religious show was just live theater,’ he reflects. To be sure, nowadays he collects not only cash on his plate but starlets. Yet, if anything, Gortner feels purer at heart. It was ‘dangerous,’ he says, ‘telling people they were going to burn in hell.’
At the same time, he isn’t conscience-stricken about his original act. ‘I didn’t feel like a con man,’ he says, ‘because those people were getting a very good show for their money, and I worked very hard.’ When he had the faithful rolling in the aisles, he claims, it was like primal therapy. ‘Those people have more emotions bottled up,’ he says. ‘They lead very uptight lives. For that moment on the floor, they’re in ecstasy.’ So good was young Marjoe, in fact, that in the early 1950s Warner Bros, dangled a deal which was rejected, he concludes, because ‘religion was more lucrative than movies.’
Now that he has made it to the big screen, it seems strange that Gortner is expending his magic on drive-in dreadfuls like Food, a current shoot-’em-up, Bobby Joe and the Outlaws, and the recently completed Viva Knievel, in which Marjoe plays Evel’s lago-like sidekick. Gortner’s response is that he is merely serving his old constituency once more. For example? ‘The guy who works in a Delco factory at a job he hates,’ Marjoe explains, ‘with a wife as fat as hell and a bunch of kids. He’s got to have his fantasies. The people who are going to those movies are the same type who came to the revival meetings, and for the same reason. That’s where they get their entertainment, like other people go to the ballet or a Bob Dylan concert. You can’t blame them for never having been exposed to another culture.’
In his own life Marjoe has embraced that fantasy culture: he lives with a svelte ex-Playmate, tools around in a Porsche or on a hot motorcycle and collects expensive guns and exquisite American Indian jewelry. Without guilt. ‘I came to a basic philosophy,’ he says. ‘I believe in myself. The trouble with most religions is they tell you how to like yourself through God or a guru. It’s harder to deal just with yourself and much more rewarding—you don’t have to report in.’
That wasn’t always true for him.”
“They had been dating off and on since last October, Marjoe’s companion of nearly two years, model Lynnda Kimball, having recently moved out. The relationship picked up at Christmas and then he cast the actress in When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? A successful off-Broadway play, it is Gortner’s first film-producing effort.
Clark admits to having had a mild crush on her new husband since 1972, when she saw the documentary Marjoe. One night she and a friend, cruising near a Malibu drugstore, spotted him in a purple Rolls-Royce with a license plate that read ‘GREED.’
‘We screamed and yelled and waved,’ she recalls. ‘He waved back and drove off real fast. That probably happened to him every day.’ By then Gortner’s attention had shifted from souls to bodies, especially the voluptuous ones he bumped into at pal Hugh Hefner’s mansion. Three years later he and Clark met at an L.A. restaurant, had an interesting conversation but saw each other only in passing for the next two years. Then one night last July he encountered Candy again in the same restaurant and asked for her phone number.
‘We just gradually grew really close, closer than I’d ever gotten to any other girl,’ he says. ‘Candy’s extremely bright, brighter than this town thinks. She knows how to handle people, and I respect that, possessing those qualities myself.’
Marjoe’s ability to handle—some would say manipulate—people dates back to his 15 years touring the Bible Belt. He was 12 when his dad, the Rev. Vernon Gortner, left home, leaving unaccounted for the $3 million Marjoe’s evangelism had reaped. At 16, Marjoe married and became the father of a daughter, Gigi, now 17. That marriage floundered in the ’60s; so did Marjoe. Then in 1971 he edged into showbiz, playing himself in his screen autobiography before landing the lead in a TV movie, The Gun and the Pulpit, followed by a string of B film roles and TV guest shots.”
Marjoe counts the money in 1972:
Cell phones proliferated in the early aughts in America just as Colony Collapse Disorder began to claim large swaths of our bee population, and some thought perhaps there was a connection. But it was just correlation, not causation. Bees seem instead to be stressed by nicotine-derived pesticides and other still-to-be-determined factors. From Dina Spector at Business Insider, an article about RoboBees, one proposed solution to the problem but probably not the best one:
“Honeybees, which pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat, have been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The situation is so dire that in late June the White House gave a new task force just 180 days to devise a coping strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. The crisis is generally attributed to a mixture of disease, parasites, and pesticides.
Other scientists are pursuing a different tack: replacing bees. While there’s no perfect solution, modern technology offers hope.
Last year, Harvard University researchers led by engineering professor Robert Wood introduced the first RoboBees, bee-size robots with the ability to lift off the ground and hover midair when tethered to a power supply. The details were published in the journal Science. A coauthor of that report, Harvard graduate student and mechanical engineer Kevin Ma, tells Business Insider that the team is ‘on the eve of the next big development.’ Says Ma: ‘The robot can now carry more weight.’
The project represents a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. It had previously been impossible to pack all the things needed to make a robot fly onto such a small structure and keep it lightweight.”
“Hello Doug. Would you personally miss bees if they disappeared?”
From Daniel E. Slotnick’s New York Times obituary of “America’s Greatest Psychic” Kenny Kingston, who was full of life and other stuff:
“An elfin man with a shock of reddish-blond hair that lightened over time, Mr. Kingston was a regular guest on television shows like The Merv Griffin Show and Entertainment Tonight for years and built successful businesses around his professed spiritual abilities.
Beginning in the early 1990s, he promoted a psychic hotline through late-night television infomercials that made about $4 million a month at its peak, Ms. Porter said. He also wrote books, including Sweet Spirits (1978), its title a phrase he used to describe both the departed and the living. He charged $400 or so for private sessions.
Mr. Kingston said he held readings for John Wayne, Whoopi Goldberg and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, among other celebrities. Some clients, he said, kept in contact after they died. He told a CNN interviewer that Marilyn Monroe was studying philosophy in the afterlife and looking forward to being reincarnated, possibly as a man.
It was not his least plausible celebrity update. He told Los Angeles magazine in 1999 that long-dead actors like Errol Flynn and Orson Welles still frequented the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood. He collected many such revelations in a book he titled I Still Talk To….
He also predicted Academy Award winners — erratically.
‘That proves I’m no charlatan,’ he told a Los Angeles Times columnist in 1988. ‘They’re never wrong. I’m just a happy medium!’
Mr. Kingston was born on Feb. 15, 1927, in Buffalo. His mother taught him to read tea leaves when he was about 4, and he was coached in spiritualism by Mae West, a family friend, Ms. Porter said.”
“I went into a trance the other night…”:
In a new Ask Me Anything at Reddit, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, subjects of the new documentary The Unbelievers, hold forth, as one might expect, on science and religion. One comment on Krauss’ remarks about Islam: While fundamentalism in a technological world is a challenge, I wonder how much violence the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are responsible for and how much comes from those who follow other faiths, including secular “gods” (e.g., money)? And that question comes from someone like myself who’s seriously irreligious. A few exchanges from the AMA follow.
Do you guys believe the current state of the USA, theologically, is at a dangerous crossroads? I as a UK resident am seriously scared of America politically
I’m not as worried. In spite of the fact that fundamentalists are the loudest, all polls continue to suggest that the number of unbelievers continues to grow in the US.
Superstitious and supernatural beliefs become more and more dangerous as advanced technology becomes available to ideologically or faith-driven fanatics. The distinguished astronomer Martin Rees gives humanity a 50% chance of surviving through the 21st century.
You (and Sam Harris and others) have often spoken about the unique threats of Islam compared to the other world religions. Most liberals are silent on Islam – or keep repeating that all religions are the same, with “fundamentalism” being the problem.
Why do you think this is? How do you see the challenge in tackling Islam shaping up at the moment?
There is no doubt that Islamic fundamentalism is a huge problem in the current world.
In many ways it’s not that different from other fundamental religions, it’s just 500 years behind Christianity.
In that regard, unfortunately the current world is one in which global communication is possible and dangerous new technologies exist. And that is the key problem.
Ultimately, I suspect that what’s driving Islamic fundamentalism are economic inequities. And, as happens in the first world, once people’s standard of living improves they find wonderful replacements for fundamentalism.
Of course, all of that is nice to say in principle… but in practice it is going to take a long time and a lot of pain before the problem of Islamic fundamentalism can really be addressed.
What is one discovery or innovation that you hope that humanity will achieve in your lifetime?
Discovery: to know whether our universe is unique or not.
Innovation: to act globally to solve global problems [like climate change and ridding the world of nuclear weapons].
Explain consciousness and its evolution. Another one that I think has a realistic chance of being solved, is the origin of life
I echo Richard. I actually think the origin of life will be solved in our lifetime, probably in the next decade.•
“Science is wonderful, science is beautiful. Religion is not wonderful, religion is not beautiful.”
Compact Discs are filed uneasily between the nostalgic lo-fi authenticity of vinyl and the veritable perfection and ultra-convenience of digital, in a state of technological obsolescence. It’s a format with essentially no value–unless you like it, that is. CDs are a market that virtually doesn’t exist, yet there it is to be exploited. From Steven Hyden’s Grantland piece “The CD Case“:
“Not only have I not gotten rid of my old CDs, I also buy new CDs nearly every week. Call it loyalty or lunacy, but the CD remains my preferred music delivery device. It’s more convenient than vinyl and more tangible than digital. I like the sense of continuity it gives my music collection, jumbling up records I bought in 1992 with 2003 and 2011 and yesterday. I like picking out discs for car rides and letting them collect over the course of weeks in the backseat. The rest I like looking at on display in my office — it’s part monument, part money pit, part mirror, part climbing hazard for my 2-year-old son.
Even if I wanted to sell my CDs, I probably couldn’t, and I actually like that, too. Used CDs are worth virtually nothing now. But the upside of this is that you can buy older albums on disc for virtually nothing. I’m sympathetic to arguments that Amazon is an evil empire, but I must admit to conspiring with the enemy to build my collection of Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell albums, at prices much lower than the downloads. Accumulating has never been easier, and my shelf space never tighter.
Perhaps I should feel a little embarrassed admitting to all of this. There’s a lot of pressure in our culture right now to essentially imagine CDs out of existence, to mentally finish off what the market is slowly suffocating. Over and over, we’re told that nobodybuys them anymore. Only two demographics are commonly identified as CD purchasers in 2014: ‘old people’ and ‘the semi-Amish not-quite-olds who can’t figure out technology,’ the implication being that anybody who knows better wouldn’t bother. CDs currently exist in a cultural no-man’s-land recently defined by singer-songwriter Todd Snider as ‘post-hip, pre-retro’ — the format is passé, but not so passé that it qualifies for reclamation.
CDs outsell vinyl records many times over, but CDs don’t have nearly the cachet or booster-ish press coverage.”
“[It] will most certainly become a part of our everyday lives in the future”:
Tags: Steven Hyden
Charlton Heston, another Conservative who wanted people to believe he’d led a virtuous life, interviewed about his career, including parts he would have rather forgotten, by the gleefully obnoxious Russell Harty in 1979.
Tags: James H. Simons
I believe sooner or later Texas will face its own intramural Red State-Blue State divide, with most metropolises leaning Democrat and rural areas going even harder to the Right. Texas won’t want to secede from the Union but from itself. Here’s the opening of “Lone Star Crazy,” Mark Binelli’s new Rolling Stone article which is written so beautifully yet is still completely terrifying:
“Jimmy Smith’s ranch sits on the Texas side of the Texas-Oklahoma border, in a little town called Burkburnett, named after a wolf-hunting buddy of Teddy Roosevelt’s. In 1918, a local farmer discovered oil on his land, and the population soared from 1,500 to 15,000 in a single year, inspiring a Clark Gable movie, Boom Town.
Those days have long passed. As I drive along the lonely dirt road wending through Smith’s property, the only Texas movie that comes to mind is the one about chain-saw massacres. I pass junked cars, barns in various states of collapse, cattle skulls dangling from iron gates, rusted metal drums of indeterminate purpose, no sign of human activity. The scene could have almost evoked nostalgia for some lost cowboy era, had it not been for the men with assault rifles guarding the main entrance. I was driving a rental car, a red Prius, in hindsight not the greatest choice for first impressions. But I waved, they nodded, and I kept driving.
The road eventually opened onto a clearing, where about 300 people milled about, eating barbecue, parked in folding campfire chairs, watching a band set up on a large professional stage. If nearly everyone present hadn’t also been heavily armed, it would have felt like a low-key rock festival. A guy in a polo shirt and stonewashed jeans, sipping from a Big Gulp, walks by with a scoped rifle on his back. A woman wearing a mesh Lane Bryant top, a semiautomatic hanging from a shoulder strap, stands beside a bored-looking six-year-old poking around in the dirt with a stick.
The Gathering of the American Patriot, as the event was called, took place on Memorial Day weekend – though you quickly got the sense that the patriotism being displayed was tethered primarily, perhaps exclusively, to the Republic of Texas.”
“You’re liable to get all muddy if you don’t put it in reverse”:
In 1923′s Our Hospitality, Buster Keaton travels via pedal-less dandy horse, the riding contraption mentioned in the post about early bicycles and walking machines. Doesn’t look ball-friendly, but Keaton had two kids.
Oh, and it’s also July 4th, the anniversary of when we began waxing those British father-rapers who were taxing us and then using that money to supply us with basic services we desperately needed. Yes, it’s the birthday of the U.S.A., the greatest nation in the history of the world. If you forget that America is the best country ever, don’t worry, we’ll remind you. That’s because we’re large and wealthy yet deeply insecure, much like Alec Baldwin. Luckily, other countries are far worse than we are, so they can’t say shit. Yes, Turkmenistan, I’m looking at you. Suck it! And if you do talk trash about us, we’ll know right away because we’re listening in on all your private conversations. We can’t help it: Spying on you, sexy world, sends blood rushing to our boners.
Anyhow, enjoy a safe and happy holiday!
A summer day at the beach with Blotto, which was not Devo:
Do you spend some time (like I do) during each haircut or shave considering how simple it would be for that relative stranger with the sharp implement standing above you, who doesn’t always seem like the most balanced person, to do some seriously bodily harm? In certain contexts, we allow for roles which make us vulnerable but which perhaps also protect us, each of us responding (usually) to the expectations placed on us.
A film about social psychologist Stanley Milgram and his experiments in control.
Tags: Stanley Milgram
Paul Mazursky, the director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a 1969 film about a pre-Internet search for a social network at Big Sur and beyond, just passed away. He was a great teller of Hollywood tales, and a lot of institutional memory disappears with him. Here he talks about his greatest screen successes.
Tags: Paul Mazursky