Tag Archives: socialism

“Look to Your Betters”

This morning I was discussing rich people with my husband; specifically the rich who own and race horses.  My husband likes to bet on the ponies.  A few times a year I join him in the action.  Yesterday was “The Breeders’ Cup” where rich people bring their best horses from all over the world to try and win gobs of money and get lots of prestige in a win or two.  One rich guy rented a whole 737 to transport just one horse.  This in the same week the satraps in Congress refused to extend the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program of 2009 aka food stamps for hungry people.

In yesterday’s comments there was a link to a video called “The Four Horseman”.  In it a scholar mentions that one of the marks of the end of empire is the raising up of the chef to celebrity status.  That happened in the Roman empire.  And yesterday, as I watched chef Bobby Flay interviewed about his race horse, I commented that the end might really be nigh.  I like Bobby Flay, by the way, and use a lot of his recipes.   He’s really good at what he does and came from the working class, so I’d rather see him with a fancy schmancy horse than some rich fracking heiress.  But the whole bread and circus aspect of it coupled with poor folks betting in the hopes of sitting in the box seats is just too much for me to enjoy the day. Continue reading

Revolution Starts with the Fence

Is there revolution in the air?  Russell Brand is talking about it. Yves Smith at “Naked Capitalism” asks if it’s time to look at alternatives to capitalism.  She cites Brand’s writings and recent essays by Ian Welsh as examples of whiffs of revolutionary expressions.

Where to start?  I am reminded of one of Gary Larson’s great cow cartoon entitled “Cow Poetry” in which the beatnik cow laments the confines of the electric fence.

DISTANT HILLS
by A Far Side Cow

 The distant hills call to me.
Their rolling waves seduce my heart.
Oh, how I want to graze in their lush valleys.
Oh, how I want to run down their green slopes.
Alas, I cannot.
Damn the electric fence!
Damn the electric fence!

Don’t be afraid of the electric fence.  Roam free on the free range.

Notes:  Russell Brand doesn’t vote.  He never has.  It took me awhile to get to that place, but I wrote about it last year in “Power to the Apathetic”.  And as Brand points out, it’s not apathy but more like righteous indignation and not wanting to be complicit in the wrong doing of the corrupt system.

The Fixer

I keep coming back to Steven Van Zandt’s character, Frankie Tagliano in the Netflix TV series “Lilyhammer.”  His nickname is “The Fixer”.  J.J. Abrams  TV series “Person of Interest” (CBS Thursdays)  also has “a fixer”; an armed and dangerous guardian angel played by Jim Caviezel.  These guys are the opposites of  what we call managers.  Both of them encounter huge public bureaucracies with rules and regulations and they choose to help somebody in trouble by breaking those rules; going around authority.  They don’t seek to control or manipulate the situation or keep it calm.  They fix it.  Okay, and I should add they are very good at cracking heads and are crack shots to boot.

I’ve been a bit obsessed lately with the idea of a “manager” and “management”.  I don’t get it.   Why manage something?  You either fix it or you don’t.  Okay, when somebody is feeling blue or just wants to vent, you can listen to them.  But that’s called “being present”.  You aren’t fixing it; or controlling or manipulating anything as per the dictionary definition of “managing”.  You listen and you let them breathe. Continue reading

Evie Taloney’s “Flics Worth Ropin” – “Lilyhammer”

Run, don’t walk, to view “Lilyhammer” the original series on Netflix.  Well, in the spirit of the thing, you should shush not snowshoe since it takes place in the little town of Lillehammer, Norway site of the 1994 Winter Olympics.  And there is a whole lot of snow there, you betcha. And every conceivable kind of character from tree huggers to ice skating Muslim immigrants.

Steven Van Zandt (of the E Street Band and “The Sopranos”)  stars in this dramedy about a mob guy, Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano, who goes into witness protection and asks to be relocated to Norway.  Figures no one will find him there.  But as the series continues, a series of flukes and flukey characters like a cop who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator may test that theory.  His theory that this is a peaceful idyllic place is also tested from the get go as he has to “fix” a situation on the train ride from Oslo to Lillehammer. Continue reading

A Better Mousetrap

The world is divided into two camps; those who maintain that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it and those who search for a better mousetrap.    The mousetrap works, no doubt about it.  But some of those questioners query; is it the only way to catch a mouse or rid yourself of mice?  Why do you even need to catch a mouse?  “Inquiring minds want to know”, said Socrates.

If you are in a jail in 18th century France or a lonely elephant, you befriend a mouse to keep you company.  If you could train mice to use a mousy litter, you might be able to co-exist.  (Amazing the way it most often comes down to questions of how to deal with excrement.)

I’ve got a very good mousetrap.  It’s called “the cat”. Sometimes the old ways are worth another look.

Boomer

Note: I am about to commit much injustice to Carl Jung by trying to use his theories in such a short essay. Continue reading

Et Tu, Zuckerberg?

I’m in the movie business and I don’t go to the movies much anymore.  It’s only partially because I live 70 frickin’ miles from a multiplex, but more because the movies have been really sucky of late.  Sometimes a “Michael Clayton” studio movie comes along.  You know, a movie with dialogue and some sort of social conscience like “Network”.  Yes, we fortunately have the Cohen brothers for creepy yet thrilling character portrayals and Pixar for joy.  But mostly we get a lot of hurling; large pieces of car flying at us or guys throwing up a lot.

So I’m happy to report that even though this is a movie about a bunch of narcissistic guys who invent a way to avoid social contact, “Social Network” about the origins of Facebook  had me laughing one minute and on the edge of my seat in another.  Yes, it was worth the 2 hours of driving, (although driving on Interstate 90 in Montana is sheer bliss with little traffic and kick ass scenery.  You know the whole eagles soaring deal above the Yellowstone River and against the backdrop of the buttes.) I could kick myself for not asking the young Montanans there what they thought of the excess of Harvard life.  I mean those Harvard dorms rooms are mighty swanky.  Their refrigerators are filled with Heineken.  Loads of it.   And the women’s underwear in the first party scene?   Oh boy, did I feel like I needed to go shopping.

The movie was a kind of me generation “Othello”  with the Othello character (nice Brazilian roommate Eduardo Severin played by Andrew Garfield)  becoming the supporting player and Iago (Mark Zuckerberg) becoming the dark maladjusted leading man.  The movie starts out with the Desdemona character Erica (played by Rooney Mara) being condescended to in a Boston bar by  Zuckerberg (played to dark perfection by Jesse Eisenberg) and finally dumping his sorry ass, thus ending that Othello comparison.  (The movie theater I was in had a sound problem and the first couple minutes we couldn’t hear the dialogue which made us a bit rebellious. So they started the whole movie over and I’m glad they did because the movie starts off with such a bang that to have missed it would have been a sin.)

Every performance is dead on.  Eisenberg provides the strange hypnotic but sad center.  While Garfield provides its only beating heart.  The Winklevoss twins played by Armie Hammer with body double Josh Pence are the epitome of privilege who are impossibly handsome, smart and , oh yes, are on the Olympic crew team.  You start off hating them, but end up loving every minute they are on the screen. And just when you thought you were having all the fun you could stand, in walks Lucifer minion Sean Parker, played with astonishing dash and complexity by Justin Timberlake.  A seducer of the first order, he lures Zuckerberg away from this best friend Eduardo into the Silicon Valley version of decadent paradise.

The direction of David Fincher couldn’t be better making even the scenes in the law office fraught with danger.  The Aaron Sorkin script is fast, almost dizzying, but still luscious and spare at the same time.  The first scenes are actually flashbacks.  We then are shown the present which is a law office where the depositions are being taken of the people suing Zuckerberg over whose idea Facebook was.  Who would have thought you could get that much drama in deposing people?  And who is telling the truth? I’m probably not the first person to remark that Sorkin used the “Rashomon” structure to brilliant effect.  Who is telling the whole truth?

The women’s roles are not so much.  This is a movie about young masters of the universe in the making and their whirling neon drug and alcohol filled world of whoopee. If we let them, they will continue to infect our innate sense of community with a crapolistic sociopathy that will be the end of us.    But somehow, thank goodness I saw another possibility.   I ended up hoping that  Erica was happily talking philosophy with her good friends at a Boston University hangout. She was not  sitting with a bunch of assholes basking in their perceived glory or alone collecting friends on her Facebook page. Who will be the winners in this battle for a real social network?  Tune in.