Sunday, May 30, 2010

Now It's Dark

Sadly, Dennis Hopper died yesterday. He has been ill for some time - this is not a surprise. Still... he had a long and fascinating career, a crucial career, in a lot of ways. Though a strange one - defined, maybe over defined, by a handful of films - Easy Rider and Blue Velvet more than any. It's probably unfair to always talk about him in those terms, but I can't help it either - Frank Booth is one of the great monsters of film history, and Blue Velvet one of the transformative films of my life.

He comes in - "Where's my bourbon?" - and everything shifts. It isn't that the film isn't strange or disturbing before Frank appears, I mean, he comes in right after Dorothy catches Jeffery in the closet - but he turns it into something altogether new. I wish I could find some record of my initial reaction - I know most of the attention, at the time, was toward Hopper's performance. The film as a whole is, and was, an overwhelming experience - it was, I am pretty sure, the most completely absorbing film I had ever seen. I'd say it was the first time a film had seemed completely satisfying, but I'd seen films like Brazil and Dr. Strangelove by then that had a lot of the same effect - but I think it was a good deal more overwhelming than they were. The way it looked, sounded - and Dennis Hopper.

He explodes. A lot of it is the character, Frank Booth is somewhere off the charts of madness - but the intense strangeness of the character is only worth so much. Hopper completely commits to it, pushes it where it goes - the character is over the top - he is over the top - he does not give you anything to hang on to. He forces you to take the film seriously (even as a big part of its power comes from how funny it is) - that horror/disgust/comedy is part of the secret - you have no way out. You have to accept the film's world, its people and stories, and go with it. It's riveting.

Now the film - makes sense. As usual with Lynch, the logic is dream logic - here given an explicit Oedipal turn ("Daddy wants to fuck!" - "Is that your mom?"), linked back to the real world (Mr. Beaumont's breathing apparatus and Frank's gas mask, say.)

But sense is not all. And shock and horror is not all - Hopper doesn't just give you menace, he gives you - something. His need, or whatever you call it - his reaction to the music, particularly, to Ben - is more than just threat, more than just pulling faces.

What is he looking for? What does he want? Part of what makes this film so great is the way the Oedipal significance is complicated - Frank is as much child as father, as lost, in a sense, as Jeffery is. They are doubles. And for that to work - Frank has to be more than just horrifying - he has to be seductive, and he has to be - lost, somehow; longing. Jeffery has to see himself in Frank, and Hopper has to show us what he sees.... and Hopper does it.

This was the film that convinced me that film was capable of art as good as any art form. It's as stunning today as it ever way, and Hopper still as magnificent. So - for that - I think him.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Doctor

Well - this is a bit less surprising than the last perfect game - Roy Halladay has been one of the premier pitchers in the game for quite a while, and when he's on, doesn't give you anything. Still - 2 perfect games in 3 weeks? Amazing. Three no-hitters this year too - just one of those things.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jafar Panahi

Very happy to read that Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film director recently arrested, has been released. On bail, but as noted in the article, it could be that the government will not take it to trial - a trial would create more international attention, and (again, as noted in the article), if they had any evidence, the odds are they would have released it. So - guarded optimism seems in order, as well as relief that he has been released.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Film Roundup Time

A couple weeks worth - haven't been killing myself to see a lot of films, which I suppose is a bad habit. But since we're less than a month from the World Cup, which is going to consume all my free time in June - 2-3 films a week might be all I manage for a while...

No One Knows about Persian Cats: 12/15 - Wonderful fictionalized documentary about Tehran's underground music scene - a young man gets out of prison and meets his girlfriend (who may also have been in prison) - they are musicians, they are trying to get a band together to either go to London and play a concert or play a show and make a record in Iran. An underground music producer introduces them to a fixer and the film takes off - the fixer (Nedar by name) rides them around town on his motobike talking a mile a minute and setting everything up - the passports, the permits - introducing them to all the musicians - a heavy metal group (nu division) playing in a cow shed; jazz acts, acoustic guitar singers, traditional folk singers, a bluesy chanteuse, and a couple indie bands (one with a very Stone Roses looking drummer, and a Stone roses sound - the other - a dronier version of the same, more Interpol, less Strokes maybe.) The leads sing a sweet poppy style - Bishop Allen in Farsi, almost... Overall, the film has some of the feel of the great Beijing Bastards - less completely fictionalized, less accomplished (filmically or musically), though it may be because working underground in Iran is tougher than it was in 90s Red China... But like Beijing Bastards, it gives you a sense of the lives being led, and is very generous with the music, which gains a sense of complete exhilaration. Several nearly complete musical performances are included, usually accompanied by documentary shots of the city - it plays like a love letter to something being lost - I believe the principals left the country after shooting the film and did not go back - I suspect those pieces were put together from that footage with much that intention.... It is heartbreaking, though - the 90s were a thrilling time to watch Iranian films, and seeing them over a run of years, you could see things changing in Iran. Every year it seemed, the films took more chances, showed more, and showed their world changing, becoming, slowly, a better place. But that is gone, and the story of Iranian films in the 00s has been a story of filmmakers leaving while the country becomes more politically retrograde - now, with Panahi in jail and most of the other major talent in exile (Ghobadi, the Makhmalbafs, Kiarostami), Iranian film as a national entity is damn near dead. This film offers a pretty nice eulogy...

Bluebeard: 10/15 - The latest from Catherine Breillat - a filming of the classic fairty tale - a man dies, leaving two impoverished daughters whose only chance to marry is to old Barbe Bleue, an ugly man whose earlier wives have all disappeared - the younger daughter agrees to marry him, out of desire to free herself from her sister and mother, as well as a degree of greed and curiosity. This couple proves - well - something close to happy, for all the weirdness of it.... BUt there are rules of course - she insists on sleeping in her own room until she is of age, and he agrees; but he prohibits her from entering that one room at the end of the hall... I hope you have all read the story somewhere along the line and know what happens - not that it is any real mystery. Rules like that have only one possible outcome. Of course she goes in and of course the other wives are there and of course he has to kill her and of course she begs for time to say her prayers, to put on her wedding dress - etc... All this is intercut with two little girls reading the story - the younger one is brash and enthusiastic, the older one is scared... the double narration, the cheap simple sets and costumes, give it an air of both unreality, told-ness, and a kind of naturalism - it comes off as a lesser version of late Rohmer, or even Rivette - very stylized, simplified, and clever and engaging - one of the more enjoyable, and satisfying Breillat films. It lacks Breillat's usual explicit sexuality, but it is quite plainly about sex - about sexual desire, the girl's, especially. The forbidden room is made an explicit symbol not just for her sexual desire, but for her sexual maturity, maybe mixed with the idea of losing her virginity - all that blood... It's an interesting film - Breillat's treatment of female sexuality is nearly unique...

Hot Tub Time Machine: 9/15 - I don't know what kind of double feature this would make with Bluebeard, though I saw them the same day.... This proved to be a silly buddy movie with some nice undercurrents. John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson as three buddies in the throes of midlife angst - when Corddry's Lou nearly kills himself in his garage, they head off (with Clark Duke, playing Cusack's nephew) to a ski resort where they wasted the 80s - it's a dump now - but there's a time machine and some Russian Red Bull, so anything can happen. They wake up in 1986 - and decide (for some reason) they have to exactly reproduce what they did in 1986 to get back to the present. It's not clear why they want to go back to the present - though it might have something to do with the non-existence of the nephew in 1986 - but they try... for a while... but not only don't they have much to go back to, but what happened to them in 1986 was mostly bad, so repeating it seems awfully dumb. It's all very funny and a bit grim, as they prove to have been a pretty awful crew in 1986, and just as bad now - but they manage, I suppose, in a backhanded way, to get something like redemption. A big part of the fun is the shameless self-referentiality - lots of Better off Dead and Say Anything jokes, and Back to the Future (Crispin Glover is also on hand), plenty of 80s mockery... though I fear it has a couple details that are so wrong as to almost ruin the experience. I don't know, but I find it hard to believe there would be a lot of girls around in 1986 who would get Dr. Who jokes - 2009, yeah - 86? But there's a bigger mistake, a bit of detailing that totally ruins the illusion that they've gone back to 1986 - they hang around in restaurants, bars, a pool hall and through it all - No One Is Smoking! This clearly indicates to me that this whole time travel thing has to be seen as Someone Having a Bad Dream. I remember what 1986 smelled like...

Please Give: 10/15 - New film from Nicole Holofcener, a slice of life in upper New York City. Catherine Keener is married to Oliver Platt, they sell used furniture they buy from dead people, they own the apartment next to theirs and are waiting for the old woman who lives there to die, and they have a 15 year old daughter with problems... The old lady has two granddaughters played by Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet - one is a nice, mopey technician at a clinic, the other is a mean, depressive drunk who works at a spa. The two families intersect; there is a disastrous birthday party full of booze and passive aggressive "honesty" that leads to an extremely unwise relationship - while Keener and Hall look for a bit of improvement in their lives.... It's a bit strange, off-kilter, understated - the plot turning, really, on two events, an affair and the inevitable housing change, that splits these two families, without quite resolving anything. It is hard to pin down, but it is still utterly convincing. It has that odd tone you get from some films, some French films, of simultaneously satirizing and sympathizing with its characters - here - they act foolishly for good reasons - it almost makes fun of them, for their inept gestures at generosity, their thinking they can buy off guilt, even their guilt (I mean, that's how used furniture shops work - you buy low, you sell high...) It's a fine film. My only real complaint is this - that like way too many American films that try to do this (tell smallish, domestic stories carefully, elliptically), there is nothing to look at. Why is it like that? The French and Japanese have long been masters of films like this, and they all look fantastic - why do American indies look so boring? American quietism - the worst thing about American films. A problem that goes across the board, actually - I can say the same thing about Hot Tub Time Machine, or Kick-Ass - they're all competent, but there's nothing really to look at except the story being told.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kick-Ass And Superheroes

So I ventured into the mainstream this weekend, taking in a show of Kick-Ass - and came out surprisingly happy. It's an awfully clever movie that pulls enough from the right sources to almost do justice to them - a post-incredibles superhero movie, a post-Kill Bill John Woo homage, probably a lot of other post-'s I'm missing for ignoring comics and TV for the last decade - none of it up to the sources, but none of it insulting... Ya got a normal guy who reads too many comics and thinks, why not dress up and fight crime? So he does it, with disastrous consequences - but he keeps doing it, and probably would end up dead except a real superhero turns up, in the form of an 11 year old girl (and her father, Nicholas Cage in a home made Batsuit and handlebar mustache channeling Adam West...) So - this makes him famous, and draws the ire of a local gangster, who has a son who also reads comics and so dresses up as his own superhero, to lure the others in... it all ends in blood (fire, explosions, brutal beatdowns and Joker quotes...) In the end, Hit Girl goes to school (woe to the bullies) - sequels are promised....

I've seen a certain amount of angst about the premise - the little kid making like Chow Yun-fat, the little kid getting the shit kicked out of her (which she does), the little kid calling people cunts - but I can't get too worked up about any of that. Movies are make believe, and this is particularly obviously make believe - and enough about the process of making believe to make something thematic of it. And kids - even 11 year olds - make believe things like this - blood and guts and fake violence and extravagant horrible fears and dangers overcome in the most hyperbolic ways possible - who didn't make up stuff like this? I did, and I was as tame a lad as you can find... It's tempting to get woo woo about it, about how it's a fairy tale (complete with absent mothers and monsters to defeat and dark night journeys and all the rest) and all - so I might as well. I think, as far as superhero movies go, it does a better job than almost any at getting at something Walter Chaw says in his review - "this superhero game makes perfect sense for kids feeling their way around a budding moral sextant, navigating their twisted, confused straits--but not so much adults, who need to find a better way through." I think he's hit it on the head there - this one plays its adolescent material straight - the underlying themes are acted out in the film. It's not as good a film as The Incredibles (to name one), but it has the same kind of sneaky seriousness...

The question of comic book movie seriousness has become something of an internet meme this week, thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz' subtly titled article at Salon - Superheroes Suck! Responses abound - Jim Emerson, The Telegraph, Pandagon (going outside the movie world) - with plenty of comments hashing it all out... I'm not sure how much I can add, but some things have been running through my head... I can't say I disagree with Seitz - most superhero films do suck - or, maybe better, are drab, formulaic crowd-pleasers, disposable and harmless... I disagree with him on a couple specifics - I liked Kick-Ass quite a bit, as you might be able to guess - and I still love the two Burton Batman films, especially the first one - though that's partly down to the experience of seeing it (twice the first two nights - a great urban showing, packed house, everyone cheering everything - Jack, Prince, Burton, the Batman, the Joker, Vicky Vail - absolutely wonderful... and the next night in a suburban theater with a crowd sharply divided between black kids cheering for the Joker and Prince and white kids cheering for Batman and, for some reason, booing Prince; complete with a fist fight before the show and a stabbing in the parking lot during the show... Exhibit A in why I'll take cities over suburbs any day of the week....)

Where was I? Oh yes - one of the problems with Seitz' article, I think, is that it looks like he's saying - Superhero movies can't be great films... when what he really presents is, No Superhero movies have been great films. He does not make an argument (not a convincing one anyway) for why superhero films can't be great films - maybe he doesn't mean to, but given the sweeping terms of his complaints - it looks like that's what he has in mind....

A second problem is - he doesn't quite define his terms. What is he talking about? You can, I think, parse out what he means, looking at his examples, at what he leaves out (The Incredibles?) He seems to mean - Mainstream American films adapted from mainstream American Superhero (or masked hero) comic books. It's an interesting definition though - because it seems to me to rather conveniently define around the superhero films that have the best claim for being "great" films - or at least, substantially interesting, individualized, imaginative films - films with the ambition and substance of the zombie films he praises. Let me name names - take these four: The Incredibles; Kill Bill; A History of Violence; Ichi the Killer - make it five - Big Man Japan. None of them fit - 2 Japanese films; an original story; a manga adaptation, and a fairly mainstream, non-superhero comic adaptation. That seems important to me - first, that to exclude films that don't suck, you have to do quite a bit of definitional shuffling - but also, that you can construct a pretty well defined type of superhero film that - to some extent - sucks... But I think what makes those films suck is that they are, in fact, mainstream adaptations of mainstream superhero comics. They are adaptations of long established characters and stories - that are guarded rather heavily by their owners and fans. It is difficult to make films out of them that go against the desires of their owners and fans - they have become very beholden to whatever the current vogue is for superhero comics.

The truth (as I've written about in the past) is that I have a soft spot for the more ridiculous kinds of superhero stories - Burton's Batman films, and even more, the 60's Batman. Even the Schumacher Batmans (which really puts me in a minority.) Camp, surrealism, ultraviolence (all coming together in Takashi Miike's films) - these things have been drained a bit from the superhero genre, but they have been there in the past, and can be again. (See Chris Stangl's comment on Seitz' article.) It's harder to do at the center - the big budget, high prestige properties - easier to do at the margins - smaller comics, smaller budgets. That might be why Kick-Ass is better than most of the other recent superhero films - its striving to be part of the mainstream might be why it still doesn't measure up to those 5 exceptions I named.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I Guess the Mound is His

Dallas Braden threw a perfect game, today, against the best team in the majors. Not bad. Though what struck me is the fact that 12,000 people saw it, on a Sunday afternoon in Oakland - that doesn't say anything good about the team...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

National Train Day

Via Jacqueline Lynch I learn that today is, in fact, National Train Day. That's a holiday I can get behind! Happy National Train Day, then, from -

Buster Keaton -

Wes Anderson -

And the Coen Brothers -

Thursday, May 06, 2010

William Lubtchansky

William Lubtchansky has died. Perhaps not a household name, except for French movie fans. I'm mostly familiar with his work with Rivette - beautiful, elegant, understated and witty, as I think these shots, all from Va Savoir (a film that seems a little overlooked, even by Rivette's standards), should show...

Jeanne Balibar makes her escape...

...and one of the great drunk sequences in all film:

May he rest in peace...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

April Movies Basically

Latest movie roundup: a long stretch of time, as this covers a mini-vacation...

Exit Through the Gift Shop: 12/15 - A Banksy film, whatever that means - and an absolutely wonderful documentary about - something. Street art? Contemporary art? itself? Something... Starts with a man named Thierry Guetta, a strange frenchman who runs a vintage clothing store (where he buys junk in bulk and marks it up as "designer" clothes - a hint of things to come) - and obsessively films everything he can. Well - Guetta has a cousin, who happens to be a street artists called "invader" - putting up space invader mosaics in various places. He films Invader - and this leads him to other artists, in Paris, LA, who Guetta films as well - most notably, Shepherd Fairey. And after a few years of this, Guetta meets Banksy himself (maybe)... though not much is coming of any of this. Guetta films, and puts the tapes in boxes - lots and lots of boxes.... But as Banksy starts making money, he tells Guetta to make the film he's been promising - which (according to the story) goes very badly... so Bansky starts editing the film, and Guetta invents a character for himself (Mr. Brainwash) and puts on a hell of a big art show (called "Life is Beautiful") - that consists of some of the most inanely derivative pop and street art knockoffs ever. But despite its complete paucity of ideas and the fact that it is all put together on the fly at the last possible second - it is a huge success, and makes a mint.

All this seems a bit too good to be true, and critics (Roger Ebert for example) are given to speculate on its veracity... Apparently, Mr. Brainwash exists, and makes art and sells it - and it is as silly as it looks in this film... and that Wikipedia article isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of authenticity... Though exactly what "authenticity" might refer to there is anyone's guess. And as for the art - is it Guetta seeing a chance to market art like fake designer clothes? is it Banksy taking the piss? something else? Whatever it is, it is hilarious - the art almost as funny as the movie. As an artist, Mr. Brainwash isn't doing much more than a million LOLcatters with photoshop are doing - it's all just altered art - but it is relarkably funny, both in itself and conceptually - the idea of passing this stuff off as art is hilarious. And it even looks good (though that's probably because it's all swiped from real art...)

But the film - is something special. The best film about contemporary art I can think of. It takes the art seriously, while taking the piss - the documentary footage in particular is wonderful, exhilarating, liberating... And that art (the street art) often looks great - especially Banksy's art, which really is on another level from the rest of the artists here. And the film itself is quite well made - well structured, thoughtful, smart about it - about the way things like this are jokes and deadly serious, hard work and a form of play, all at once. Details like the way Guetta's clothing store anticipates his art show - show how well put together it is. It's great stuff.

Vincere: 10/15 - Marco Bellochio's latest, about Mussolini's rise - or really, a love affair - he meets a woman, in either 1907, 1914 or both, and starts an affair. In 1914 he supports the war, which causes the socialists to throw him out - by then the woman is his, body and soul, and she sells all to buy him a newspaper, and bears him a son. They are happy, but it can't last - he has another woman, more children, and when he goes to war he married #2 and abandons #1. After the war, he continues to shun her, but she won't let go - and this leads to her doom, madness, or at least madhouses, and the misery and eventual doom of her son... The performances are spectacular - Giovanna Mezzogiorno plays Ida magnificently, Filippo Timi plays Mussolini, father and son, and is superb as both. It's also a directorial tour de force - jumping around in time, integrating reality and fantasy, films, etc. - making great use of cinemas, the crowds interacting with the movies, brawling, kids jumping up and down along with what's on screen, Ida integrated into Chaplin's The Kid - a very fine film.

House: 11/15 - Not exactly new, I know, but getting a kind of release at last... Great fun - very strange haunted house film, with a bunch of schoolgirls going to visit one of the girl's aunt. There's a bit of backstory there - the girl ("Gorgeous") has a rich father who has a villa, but he has also acquired a fiancee (whose part seems to have been spliced in from a perfume commercial), and Gorgeous is jealous - thus, off to see mom's sister. SHe and her pals arrive at the aunt's house - an isolated old fashioned house on a hill, guarded (you could say) by a goofy guy selling watermelons) - at the house they meet the aunt, a sweet old lady in a wheelchair, with a white cat (who seems more or less omnipresent) - everything seems nice enough, but you know how it goes. The fat girl disappears - the high strung girl finds her head in the well - or does she? The girls start to worry - the aunt starts walking - then things get strange. Futons attack one girl, a piano eats another - Gorgeous, puts on her aunt's makeup and becomes a kind of monster bride - and then it gets stranger still. In the end, the girl's teacher arrives in his dune buggy, but turns into a bunch of bananas; then the finacee and her perfume commercial arrive, and Gorgeous greets her, but you can see the cat is still hungry... I can't do justice to it all - it is so far over the top it comes up from below - really cool stuff.

The Good, The Bad and the Weird: 9/15 -A certain kind of high ambition, that doesn't come off - a Leone knock off sort of, with buried treasure, a vicious crook, a mostly amoral bounty hunter, a goofy thief, swirling factions with political overtones around them. The thief steals a treasure map from some Japanese, that the Bad was supposed to have retrieved - the Good is hanging around - they all set off on a long chase across Manchuria, the three of them plus a couple gangs of bandits (with an inexhaustible supply of thugs) and the Japanese army. Lots of action, some comedy, but not much logic follows, and truth is, even the action is a bit flat - there are some nice set pieces, but they don't quite come off... It's watchable, I suppose, though a bit of a slog, never quite delivering on its premise - all that genre mashup ought to be more fun. The great Song Kang-so has the Wallach part and makes a meal of it, almost saving the thing... But overall, it's a film that made a spectacular trailer, but not much of a movie.


Kingdom of Heaven: 8/15 - Orlando Bloom stars as a blacksmith plucked from his forge by a wandering crusader (we are set in the 1180s) who proves to be dear old dad. Young Balian the blacksmith does not wish to go, but he is mocked by a priest and promptly dispatches him, and finds it best to scarper for the holy land. Dad dies en route and our man washes up on the shores of Palestine a baron. He goes to Jeruselem and the film sets up its central conflict - the idealistic leper king Baldwin and his supporters (Balian, Jeremy Irons with a fake scar) vs. mad templars and Frenchmen. The latter provoke Saladin and his armies, but as long as Baldwin lives, he maintains the peace - but when he dies, it's war! All this has the makings of something awful, but actually isn't half bad. It's a long movie, 2 1/2 hours (and there's an even longer director's cut that I haven't seen), but moves along fairly briskly. There's not much point to it, I suppose, but it's distracting enough. Ridley Scott mostly maintains a modernized classicism, if that makes any sense - it feels like an old fashioned Hollywood epic, though without the conventional racism - Saladin and company are noble and heroic and victorious... Still - it's morality is extremely simplistic - there are good guys, there are bad guys, and there is no overlap between them. The bad guys are the templars, looking for WAR! - everyone else is a good guy, trying to keep peace, but forced to fight one another thanks to the folly of the warmongers. It is fascinating to compare this to Warlords - the Chinese film is infinitely more complex, morally. The three main heroes are forced constantly to choose - to do evil things to accomplish greater ideals, or prevent worse evils - they have to compromise, and their compromises not only lead them to do bad things, but undermine the ideals they claim to support. They have no way to win, really - act honorably and lose to the villains; act harshly and become the villains. Kingdom of Heaven has almost nothing of this - there is one moment, where poor Balian is offered the kingdom of Jerusalem (and the woman he loves) if he will agree to have her husband (the presumptive heir) murdered - he refuses - and no one really presses the issue. Here - villains lose, honorable and decent people win - or at least get out alive. It's very heartwarming but notably childish.

All that doesn't quite address the film itself. As I said - it is surprisingly watchable, even at its excessive length. It could do with a better hero - Orlando Bloom is not useless, but he is mostly pretty - and pretty much disappears among the Easter dinner's worth of hams around him. Fortunately, the leading lady, Eva Green, is as pretty and boring as he is, so you aren't really led to wonder why she wouldn't run off with Jeremy Irons instead...

Mysterious Object at Noon: 12/15 - I will need to digest this some before saying much - though as always, Apitchapong Weerasethakul delivers a beautiful, amusing, clever, challenging work...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day Celebration

Happy May Day, folks! I want to say - I rather wish the teabaggers were right, and Obama was a secret socialist, planning to establish a reign of terror of single payer health care, strong regulation of financial institutions and corporations, end of undue deference to religious organizations, strengthened unions, better safety and environmental regulations - and oh, so much more. One can dream, no? The dirty fucking hippy in me wishes he might get us out of a war or two, end the worst offenses against human rights stemming from those wars (treat prisoners as either prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva convention, or as criminals, protected by the American constitution and international law), maybe even reduce the war on drugs, and stop destabilizing our neighbors and filling our prisons in a vain attempt to keep hippies and football players from enjoying their weed... Not likely. The only comfort - and it's thin comfort indeed - is that the right seems determined to marginalize itself completely - Arizona's immigration law seems designed to keep any non-whites from voting Republican - they might have already succeeded in losing Florida to the Democrats by alienating the Cuban vote... though divisive, xenophobic, racist, authoritarian politics are always dangerous...

Enough of that. Let's celebrate the day with some music - the anger of the downtrodden (at least in the film version of the play): Lotte Lenya singing "Pirate Jenny" from Red Pabst's Threepenny Opera movie.