Friday, August 17, 2018

Suppose it were Friday clix: And jokers were this wild

  Now and again the open-mike  
  stand-up routine of our im-
  prov Presidency has shown a
  tip-toed slipping offstage,
  of some of its earlier con-
  spirators - lately, the an-
  ti-labor Governor of Wiscon-
  sin, refusing to enlist in
  a war with Harley-Davidson,
  national roadway avatar for
  corn on the cob and blue-
  berry pie; fresh and local.


Coco Pazzo
"Blueberry Crostata"
The New York Times
July 31, 2018©

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Here's that wind again

In the waning hours of the Nixon
government - an antic crime wave
which, for all its faults, was
effectual enough to be called an
administration - there was an un-
forgettable sound of the gears'
failure to synchronize, the hard-
er the President might shove his
hell-bent lever of power. The din
was of near-simultaneous shavings
away of brittle shards of scrap,
a euphoria of humiliation, resig-
nation, incarceration predicated,
altercation simulated from pathos. 
He named it, twisting in the wind.

Écoutez . .

It might take two years, but the
noise will neither abate nor be
superseded, until all is junked.
Too bad? What if he'd succeeded?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Is Mendocino bluffing?

It honestly has been, hasn't it,
an interesting week? The Presid-
ent continues his war of econom-
ic wreckage upon a Muslim ally
of 82 million people, to spring
an incarcerated cleric to thrill
his base; yet still he has time
to maul a black female protegée
for the same clientele. Another
300 priests have been implicated
in ruining the lives of their
flocks, and Kansas has escalated
its commitment to Republican id-
iocy in government. Meanwhile,
Nebraska and Tennessee have put
more convicts to death, of idyl-
lic dependency on the state. Do
you think Mendocino's bluffing?

Brett Weston
Owens Valley

Helen Frankenthaler

Monday, August 13, 2018

New news of Harvey Weinstein III

Four of the better-conceived words
presented by American cinema in 2016,
it seems to me, are those of screen-
writer/director Kenneth Lonergan for
Lee Chandler, to speak to his nephew
to explain why he cannot serve as his
guardian, as his late brother's will
had arranged:  I can't beat it. Last
evening, I happened to catch up with
this presentation, though not without
enduring the criticism of the clerk
at the store which sold the dvd. As
everyone knows, the actor who speaks
for Lee Chandler is Casey Affleck.

This is not irony, but it is desolat-
ing coincidence, for this highly cred-
itable work of art to be abandoned in
irrecompensible outrage with its maker,
a burden which seemingly can't be beat.
But it is irony, and not coincidental
at all, for the work as a whole, and
the performance at its core to portray
the burden of mistake as of such objec-
tionable finality. All I knew, as I
consciously violated the Harvey Wein-
stein rule against perpetuating a live-
lihood for a specific category of per-
son, was that I do not believe works 
of art which decry inflicting the of-
fense must be expunged for that suc-
cess. I think of Huckleberry Finn.

Further, I would assume, there must 
certainly be many film enthusiasts 
and Red Sox fans who have noted a 
eloquently adroit overlay of Loner-
gan’s movie on a moment from the 
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 
Sciences’ “Best Motion Picture” of 
the previous year, Spotlight. In the 
opening scene of that movie of gal-
vanizing moral outrage, a world-weary 
desk sergeant in a police precinct and 
a compromised assistant district attor-
ney exchange greetings as the latter 
arrives to pluck a predatory priest 
from his own protective custody. Those 
actors, respectively, Joe Stapleton and 
Brian Chamberlain, portray the Fire Mar-
shall and an investigating police detec-
tive in an interview exonerating Casey 
Affleck’s negligent father in Lonergan's 
film. Two moments, of highly distinguish-
able character dynamics in the determina-
tion of guilt - showing how mercurial the 
accusatory element is, how elusive the
reconciling faculty is - refute anything 
one can say against trusting either film. 
A gentleman doesn't dine in restaurants.

I return, however, to the speech in
question, between Uncle and Nephew,
I can't beat it. As cruel as it is,
I haven't any doubt that it has con-
ceptually permeated almost anyone's
mind at some time or another, but to
see and to hear the price of believ-
ing it, as Lonergan's movie allows
one to do, upholds it as that ultim-
ate "no go" zone of human life, in
which we would like to place assault,
itself. To paraphrase the actor Sean
Penn, in remarks years later on Ter-
rence Malick's The Thin Red Line, 
'I haven't met anyone in this world
who isn't desperate.' If a place
of art is to nail true things, I'll
be commending Manchester By the Sea
to anyone who asks.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Two Groups of Caryatids
  after Carracci
  San Michele in Bosco
Norton Simon Museum

Edward Hopper
New York Movie
Museum of Modern Art

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Who are you, that we live in all these many forms?"

    The question is posed in voice-over
    as the camera pans from within the
    waterways and canopy of a tropical
    forest, at the 32nd minute of Ter-
    hence Malick's film on the battle
    for Guadalcanal, The Thin Red Line.

    One year ago today, the University
    town down the road was attacked for
    the purpose of denying this question,
    as if whole sectors of this one plan-
    et could be, and reasonably ought to
    be reserved for only preferred forms
    of our common life. This is the gov-
    erning solecism of the President of
    the United States, and the source of
    his power. We have seen, here, how
    unsustainable it is. We recall this
    today, not against our will, but to
    share a place among our many forms.

Terrence Malick
20th Century Fox, 1998©