Showing posts with label Another Thing You Take For Granted. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Another Thing You Take For Granted. Show all posts

Monday, December 16, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: Is It Wonderful Is This Life

Is It Wonderful This Life?
By I. Rabschinsky

(We are suggesting you view this in Web Version. Go. Now.)

George Bailey Guy Understanding How We Are To Being Completely Screwed

This is now usual standard hoo boy holiday good for you Internets Tradition. You should enjoy, since next time it may be costing you -- because in our Big Huge Nation there is becoming no room for little opinions such as these. They can make very hard to find you on the Googling. And when Internets are very expensive, Peoples will choose sites which load quickly. Like ZuckCo., Good News Tower Of Power, and Wholesome Musik For Children. You understand.

Ha ha ha. But, of course; if you have the money, you can see. If you are with the huge money, you can have opinions. How fast the Freedom goes, because Freedom. Ha ha ha!

Great-Uncle Yehudi, who is older, still, but strong enough to want to be hit by telephone book until falling down, refuses to be watching the television news. Little Rupert Fox, he never watched, but now he will not watch See Enn Enn, Big Mouse News, or Amazon News, or even BBC or the PBS Very Balanced. "I am angry, Isidore," he says from the big chair which reclines. "I would spit, if I was not in my own house, sitting."

But what if you are not watching, I say; you will be not the informed! Great-Uncle Yehudi says, "You are watching what somebodys are wanting to teach you. And their lesson is always, 'You have no power! You are betrayed! Love the Tsar! You cannot be fighting the Bosses! Obey the Cossacks! Shut your mouth and convert to be Christian kind of Gentile!' "

So what do we do? Yehudi makes a sour face. "I will be watching watch The Mister Ed." But what do we do if the Cossacks come? I ask, and Great-Uncle Yehudi laughs.

"Izzi, you are my favorite Great-Nephew (I am only great-nephew, I remind), but Cossacks are here. You have to choose between learning the lesson They are teaching now, or not learning. And if you decide not to learn, then you must be waiting, and when time comes, being ready to fight." 

Ah; Great-Uncle Yehudi: still, we love him. So we make this the annual offering of the Funny for you, hoping that it can remind of the Time Before and make a smile.

I, Rabschinsky, say this say this -- to Moldavish Guy; you also.

So always in the America there is at this time the fooding, and also the Sports Produkt on the television. Many people filling themselves with Holiday as if they about to be told, "Next year, you cannot eat!". I am thinking they are the hostage of their Hindbrain, which is still Neanderthal and wishes to fight with Mastodon. But, still.

And, I am noticing specific films which is only appearing on Amerikanyets television at these months between like maybe September and the time of your New Year.

My examples: At Passover, some of the television is showing The Ten Super Big Mitzvah Rules, with Charlton Heston Guy -- you know, movie where Moses stop making fooling around to pretend he is Big Guy of the Egypt, and decides to get real job saving People Of Israel.

This requires lots of people walking around, always saying "Oh, Moses, Moses, Moses" -- like, if they say this three times, they will be teleported by magik into better movie. Navarone Kind Of Big Guns, maybe, or Socialist-Colored Panther.

Place Which Is Gone Forever: Amerikanyets Driving To Movies:
"Moses, Moses, Moses -- What is happening with our Drive-Ins?"

At another time in year, they are showing same Heston Guy what is Moses in Big Mitzvah Rules in another movie, Ben Of Her. However this is basically film of Jewish guy who becomes like early Jesus guy, but by accident.

Movie is good; he is Number Forty-One guy in slave ship, rowing like animator for the Disney; there are becoming big boat battle, and he gets to be some kind of honorary Goyim. Later, there is an exciting thing with horses and carts -- but it is not the porn film, so too bad for you. Go to web sites where they have not blocked you.

Charlton Ben Heston Making The Ramming Speed, 1959

At finally, with the Christmas, every year since somebody discover the Secret Of Fire there is this broadcasting this movie, It Is Wonderful This Life, made by Frank Capra Guy in 1947, showing the kind of place which everybody wanted to believe was the Amerika. Small town, everybody knows everybody; values is good and everybody work hard and knows their places.

Just like village in the Moldova, except animals do not leave defecation in the street, everyone is speaking English, and most people have job. Plus concrete used in apartment buildings is better quality.

Every single year they are showing this film. It is now a classic also, like Wizard Of Odd and Potemkin Kind Of Battleship and Mister Hulot Goes To Beach Place. It is as big movie as The Tanks Know The Truth (Very popular Great Patriotic War movie made in the Russia. My Great-Uncle Yehudi claims he is in this film as Extra, but still we love him).

Big Scene From Tanks Knowing The Truth: Are They Knowing?
Well, They Are Tank; You Are Person. You Want To Be That Sure?

It Is Wonderful This Life story is maybe simple: Guy, George Bailey Guy, living in small town wants to die, because he thinks his life is shit. And there are the angels, who show us life of this Guy in the little town, and how he is The Good, and there is the Rich Guy who is The Bad. And George Bailey Guy never gets to do things in the Life because the Fate is not for him.

Then there is mistake with money (a problem made from the Rich Bad Guy), for which he is blamed, and he runs from family and goes to place of Publik Alkohol; finally he goes to bridge to jump in freezing water so his family will get small piece of Insurance money. Very Sad (There is also squirrel in another scene which is sad, but never mind). Also very Petit-Bourgeois.

So, Angel Guy comes to the Earth and shows this George Bailey Guy his life is maybe kind of okay, not so much the shit; and boom boom boom, problem with the money goes away in big scene at end when everyone gives him their money, and everyone sings. So happy, little bells on tree and big bells of church ring; America wins the World War Two and future is filled with television and freeway. The End.

But this is too simple, my friend. No way is actual life like this. So, maybe some of me thinks this is kind of the Propaganda about America, to keep us from seeing the Truth of the Things.

And, there is forbidden version of this film, which is other kind of the Propaganda. Please -- allow me to introduce.

борьбе за построение социализма во время Угнетение
(также называется "Любовь и революция" после 1991)

("Love And Revolution", Directed By Frank Kapronovich [1949]; Starring Pytor Chost, Gravnik Bolodorin, Irina Valutin. Special appearances by the Spirit Of Revolution, also Che Guevara, Samuel Beckett, and entire 12th Guards Motorized Infantry Regiment)

SO, movie opens with Guy, Georgi Edwardovich Bailey Guy, at the Bridge. He is unhappy, this Guy; boy oh boy he is like making the panic. He goes to public alkohol place and tries to think, but he only finds himself between the forces of dissent and confusion!

TROTSKYITE GUY: River not so bad, after five minutes.
EXISTENTIAL GUY: Wait, but no one comes. No one cares.

Hoo boy; Georgi is in big fix. This guy has family with SmallChilds, and tiny Policy Insuring The Life -- and he is believing everybody would be better off if he would jump and get it over with, already.

GEORGI: My life is steaming pile of animal things,
because the Rich Guy will always win. Now I am jumping.

But, Georgi is being watched at Bridge. Not by some angel Guy (none of this reliance on things which cannot be proven by good Socialist science!) -- but even better -- is Spirit Of Revolutsya!

(Spirit Of The Revolution Watches Georgi)

And, The Spirit saves Georgi! He takes him to place where they can speak of things, of the Truth -- and slowly, Georgi's eyes are opened to not only the forces of historical determinism, but the inevitability of struggle against the oppressor classes!

GEORGI: So you are saying that when the consciousness
of the People is raised sufficiently, that armed struggle
is not only necessary but inevitable?
SPIRIT: You got it, Comrade.

So, Georgi, now with eyes opened thanks to the words of the kindly Spirit, is seeing that the world is filled with inequality and criminal things so big your head feels like kicked soccer ball. It is like understanding that, not only are you living as Dog, lapping up the vomit of the Rich Guy, but you work in factory to make guns to force others to live like this (Also, the Rich Guy pays you in fake dog vomit and those X-Ray glasses which do not work).

For Georgi, this is whole bunch of dried fish to eat in one night (Like story by that Guy, Dickens Guy, Carol Burnett Christmas, or something). This is the Life? He is asking himself.

A World Of Things For Them, But Not Food For Children

Economy And Bad Fate For Peoples Means Nothing To Them

For Them, The World Is Something To Carve Up, Like Beef

While The Many People Lose Everything To The Illegal Foreclosure

So now Georgi is filled with indignant and bad feeling for The State Of These Things. He feels the pain of the oppressed, working masses, and is being filled with Revolutionary Fervor -- and he goes to talk with the People in his little village, to tell them what the Spirit had revealed to him -- and the Spirit sends along friend, Che Guevara Guy, to help.

GEORGI: We don't have to live under the heel of Potter's boot!
He's just some, bloodsucking animal! Feeding on all of us -- and I'm
tired of living on fake dog vomit! We have to run things!
CHE GUEVARA SPIRIT GUY: Ay, Yi Yi! You listen to this guy.

The People, moved by Georgi's words, march with him to the place of the Bad Rich Guy, to demand Justice, the chance to make something other than guns, and to be paid in actual money instead of rubber dog vomit and X-Ray glasses which do not work.

BAD RICH GUY: You realize that the manufacture and sale of
weapons around the globe is the backbone of our nation's industry?
GEORGI: You don't understand -- the days of taking your rubber
dog barf are over, Potter! We're going to run things!
MOB: No fake dog barf!! No fake dog barf!!

BAD RICH GUY: My family has run this town for fifty generations.
All I have to do is close the factories. How long will it be before
your little rag-tag mob starts to starve? They'll come crawling back
to work -- and for half the rubber dog barf I gave you before!

Then, Georgi takes the Big Step -- the one which all oppressed people are taking in these movies when faced with Oppressors who pay them with rubber dog vomit: He crosses line from intellectualizing his oppression to active revolutionary.

Otherwise, we would have no resolution of all this rising action; and only ending for this film possible is that everyone would go for Pizza. This is unsatisfying from view of the Socialist imperative.

GEORGI: You're wrong, Potter -- you, and people of your
class are finished. Now you're going to face Justice for your
crimes -- because the People own the means of production!

And so The Bad Rich Guy is taken away by the People; his house later becomes hospital, day-care center, and place where revolutionary theater troupes practice before going into the streets.

And, of course, there is a proper celebration at the Georgi Bailey house, with the Revolutsia Spirit and the SmallChilds.

GEORGI: Gosh, Spirit, I don't know how we can thank you.
SMALLCHILD 01: Spirit, can't you stay and have some Fair
Trade™ coffee with homemade whiskey with us?
SPIRIT: No, SmallChild; I must go. There are so many oppressed
peoples in a world beset by unspeakable monsters of Capital.
But I will take a shot of that whiskey -- neat, please.

Finally, after long discussion between Rich Bad Guy and the Organs Of State Security, he faces Revolutionary Justice and the verdict of The People.

RICH BAD GUY: Long live International Capitalism!

And, of course, Georgi and his lovely wife are pausing in their labor to build a New Socialist Future to share a moment's reflection on the plight of The Peoples, and also to suggest some hygienic sexual activity between them which may occur later.

...and in the background, The Internationale swells on the soundtrack, sung by the Sad Vlad Orphans Choir Of Greater Moscow! Please to show the credits!

This film has not been shown since its original release; big shame, also, because it is at least as good as movie with Bert Landcaster in it but of the name, just now, is escaping me.

Great-Uncle Yehudi likes Revolutionary Love. He thinks it is wonderful comedy, but still we love him. If you can find this film on DVD, then okay. If not, well then it is big world out there! Be That Guy -- go find!

I, Rabschinsky, say this -- to Moldavish Guy; you also.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Absent Friends

You Know Who They Are

Mozart: Concerto For Clarinet and Orchestra; 2nd Movement, Adiago

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: Still Missed

John Lennon: October 9, 1940

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass; they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe;
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way,
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views; inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me
Like a million suns; it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world...

Across The Universe (Lennon / McCartney, 1969)

We don't care what flag you're waving,
We don't even want to know your name,
We don't care where you're from or where you're going,
All we know is that you came;

You're making all our decisions,
We have just one request of you,
That while you're thinking things over,
Here's something you just better do:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well we were caught with our hands in the air,
Don't despair paranoia is everywhere,
We can shake it with love when we're scared,
So let's shout it aloud like a prayer:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now

We understand your paranoia,
But we don't want to play your game;
You think you're cool and know what you are doing,
666 is your name;
So while your jerking off each other,
You better bear this thought in mind:
Your time is up you better know it,
But maybe you don't read the signs

Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well you were caught with your hands in the kill,
And you still got to swallow your pill,
As you slip and you slide down the hill,
On the blood of the people you killed

Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now...

Bring On The Lucie (Freda People) (John Lennon, 1973)

The Soul Of America reminded me that I missed the actual day. Normally, I put up a memorial on December 10th. Better, I think, to celebrate someone's birth.

... I can't say I listen to Beatles music too much myself, these days (though I did listen to the Magical Mystery Tour album last weekend, by chance, while padding through the Haight).

So:  Absent Friends. Happy Birthday, John.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Deepness Of The Sea Washes Up To Your Door

Random Barking In Multiple-Atmospheric Pressures

Last Week, In The Roundy Room Of Trump House
(Presidential Finland Guy Looks On: Whuz Up Wit' You, Man?)
Trump’s Defiance of Oversight Challenges Congress’s Ability To Rein In The Executive Branch: Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight and Democrats’ flailing response are undermining the separation of powers and could have long-term implications for the democracy.
-- Washington Post, October 7, 2019; Headline and Sub-
It's fair to say America has never experienced the particular combination of political circumstances we're in now. It's a Constitutional crisis. It's the ugliest contest of power between the Executive and Legislative branches -- fueled on the Right by a witless, corrosive, ideological hatred. On the Left, Democrats can't seem to remember that they once were allegedly the party of People, and not of Corporations As People.

Meanwhile -- in case you forgot -- the Office of President* is held by a person who will sacrifice anything: lives (of immigrants, of Americans drinking tap water or breathing our air; of Yemeni civilians, or Kurdish troops), or fortunes (yours, or mine), or honor (manipulating others with lies) -- to feed his apparently bottomless appetite for satiety, validation, stimulation and revenge.

This is a defining moment in the future of our country. Are we (nominally) a nation of laws, a representative government that has some power, some checks and balances? Or are we more clearly an authoritarian political state where the only obvious use of a Legislative body is to rubber-stamp the will of The Leader?

After two weeks of whistleblowers and Rudy and threats and "BULLSHIT!" -- Impeachment is apparently the next stop on this Funhouse Highway. I'm not repeating details of the previous few weeks; things change, get worse; some new astounding revelation appears, almost by the day. One thing is constant -- the situation between Trump and his Base, and everyone else, will get almost inconceivably uglier.

I've already said: Articles of Impeachment will undoubtedly pass in the House. The votes are there. It will be referred to the Senate -- where the votes are not. A two-thirds majority is required to convict a President, but it doesn't appear likely the Senate will even vote on any Article from the House.

Republicans are so focused on beating the hated Liberals that they will continue to overlook whatever The Leader does. There may be a breaking point -- but after everything Trump has already done, what does that even mean?  Beating the Left, just to kick someone else into the dirt, has become more important to these persons than life, fortune, or the honor of all of us as citizens.  Nothing new there.

Yertle The Turtle has already saturated Kentucky with commercials, stating flatly that a Senate under his leadership and Republican control will protect the president*.  It's exciting to live in a country where you not only know the fix is in -- but where the Goons in charge actually crow about it, openly, in advance. That's a breathtaking example of exactly how broken, politically, things are.

Perversely, Trump will continue feeding on a 24-by-7 news cycle focused almost exclusively on him. He will bellow, preen, strut, and when his Toadies in the Senate quash the Impeachment, he'll celebrate with an all-night party at More-Lego, where he will be filmed having sex with goats and kitchen appliances -- and mention in the State Of The Union that real Americans should buy an exclusive boxed DVD set of the spectacle, through Trump Enterprises, at an 800 number.

Then, we will have an election.

Some believe representative government was created so that larger, poorer masses, with great effort over hundreds of years, might force the smaller number of Owners and their institutions to give concessions in their control of -- well, everything.

If you're one of them, then the 2020 election is less about overthrowing a tyrant, and more about casting your vote for a government which won't further erode what rights and protections we've fought for -- an erosion every president since LBJ seems to have contributed to.  The choices seem drawn in relief -- a path forward is about more collectivism, mutual dependence and regard. The reverse ends in demands for loyalty at the point of a gun, poverty, states of emergency; mass graves.

It seems strange to hope the result of elections in 2020 is only for less erosion, rather than progress. That, too, tells you how broken politically things are. But it isn't a surprise. And please, don't make any mistake about it: Impeachment is not the most important thing on the table.

This election, and any other we participate in for at least the next few generations, is about ensuring that bloated clowns and demagogues do not have any lasting place in our culture or politics. We can't afford them any longer.

The most important thing on the table is survival of our species -- and understanding that how we do that is as critical to our future as survival itself.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: We're Whalers On The Moon

Yet Again, The Birthday of Big Marine Mammal Avatar Creators

Moving through life, we find ourselves on occasion in the midst of experience or the presence of a thing which resonates and reminds that something, more than what we think we know or can perceive (if we would just stop and shut up and pay enough attention to see), exists.

Principally, this happens when we're 'out in nature', but it also happens when we encounter some art -- in particular, when it's been created by someone who made deep and illuminating connections and Brought Them Back To Tell Thee. From August 1 in 2016 and 2017 and 2018.

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.
-- Herman Melville / Moby-Dick, or, The Whale
Over at the Soul Of America, it's a celebration of Herman Melville's 200th birthday (!!!), and things of the Sea, and a Whale, and other notables which Herman brought back, To Tell Thee.

I considered writing a post from the viewpoint of the Whale just for the potential Yucks (because, god knows, We Need The Yucks Wherever We Can Get Them), but gave it up and settled for the Humorous Image.

The best thing about the post, and the reason I mention it here, is -- Herman tends to be overlooked in a culture whose highest expression is a Rhianna / Pitbull remix; it's good to be reminded that he is still there -- as he reminds us that we are chased by our mortality; and that sometimes the Form Of The Destructor is large, albino, and aquatic.  For me, it's a big lawn mower. Your Harbinger O' Death™, of course, may differ.

I was introduced to Melville when I was fourteen -- not through the novel he's most often identified with, but in the short work, "Bartelby The Scrivener" (1853), a classic in its own right. Ishmael's tale was next, and I was, uh, hooked. Later, I wasn't able to read anything by James or Conrad that didn't refer back to the narrative style I encountered first with Melville.

"Moby Dick: Or, A Whale" is ubiquitous. There is No Whale before He who populates a portion of that book (Yeah, okay; 'Shamu'  and 'Willy' are not the same thing). The Whale at least lurks, an unseen presence, in the background of all the on-ship action -- like Death, or Fate, or reruns of Three's Company. As if the Whale might chuckle and snicker in the dark during certain scenes:
" 'What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike.'   
" 'Heh heh heh heh,' " came a deep basso rumble out of the darkness which hid the waters. Ahab started, but did not otherwise acknowledge the presence of that upon which he had focused for so long."
That Big Marine Mammal is archetypal, now. And, aber natürlich, the moment something makes an appearance on "Family Guy", it's an absolute certainty that, whatever it is, it's now hard-coded into our DNA.

 Herman Left Out The Part Where Whales Like Raisin Bran

MEHR, MIT KEINE POLITIK: My Very Own Hillaryite Colleague asks, "So you hate music, too?" (This, because of the Rhianna / Pitbull quip.) And I would agree, it's absurdist reductionism to claim that the essence of culture in Eusa is rap music and movies like Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. I'm convinced that people (or, Whales; or very intelligent Honey Badgers) in the not very distant future will look back on this period as one of the most varied and vibrant in the history of our humanoid species -- until, you know, that thing happens.

UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Once I saw this, I could not un-see it. It is an actual book. Swear to god.

UND: WAS IST AUCH SCHON WIEDER LOS? MEHR:  At one point, if you had $39.9K, Jim Morrison's Moby could have been yours.

At that price, you'd think the seller would have provided free shipping -- but, remember: this is Aremica, Land Of The Free and Home Of The Hip.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Edge Of The Volcano Edition


(Originally From 2016)

Cousin Ignatz, Asleep At Princip's Post: Sarajevo, 2014 (Matthew Fisher / Postmedia News)

Roughly twelve hours and 105 years ago, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Grand Duchess Sophie, were shot by Gavrillo Princip, a member of an assassination team sent to the Bosnian city by the government of Serbia.

Collectively, the team was the gang which couldn't shoot straight: armed with crude grenades, a few pistols, and carrying some form of suicide pill, they waited along the route Franz Ferdinand's car would take as it drove beside the Miljacka river, which cuts through Sarajevo (local Austro-Hungarian authorities had helpfully published the Archduke's route beforehand).

Most of the team either was poorly positioned, or chickened out at the last moment.  One conspirator did throw a bomb at the Archduke's car, which bounced off its folded-back fabric top and exploded near a second car traveling just behind. Several people in the car had minor injuries and it continued on to a local hospital.

The Archduke's driver, Leopold Lojka, continued to Sarajevo city hall. When Franz Ferdinand arrived, he effectively unloaded on the hapless administrators about the state of their local security ("I come to your city and am greeted with bombs!"). Meanwhile, back at the river, the would-be bomber had jumped into the Miljacka and swallowed his suicide pill -- which he promptly threw up. The police arrested him, barely managing to keep him from being lynched a mob of pro-Austro-Hungarian citizens, and so save him for later trial and execution.

At approximately 12:30 PM, having finally accepted the thanks of the Sarajevo city fathers, Franz Ferdinand and his wife got back into their car, planning to go to the local hospital to see those wounded in the bomb attack that morning. They used the same route, in reverse, that they had taken into the city, driving along the river. But when the Chauffeur, Lojka, came to a particular intersection -- to his left, a street; to the right, a bridge over the Miljacka river -- he was confused.

 The Royal Couple (Seated, At Rear) Leaving City Hall: Fifteen Minutes Left

Believing it to be the route he needed to take to drive to the hospital, Lojka slowed and turned left into the street.  Almost immediately, he realized he'd made a mistake and stepped on the brakes. The car came to a stop a few yards into the street, and Lojka moved to put it in reverse gear.

 The Intersection, 2014: The Archduke's Car Turned Left, Into This Street;
The Restaurant Where Princip Bought Lunch, Now A Museum (Photo: CNN)

At that same intersection was a small restaurant. Gavrillo Princip, last member of the Serbian assassination squad, had gone inside to buy a sandwich, angry and dejected after the team's failure that morning. Standing on the sidewalk outside the cafe, he saw a large, dark-green automobile turn out of the boulevard and come to a stop directly in front of him. In the very rear seat were the Archduke and his wife.

The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne had been delivered, less than ten feet away, from an armed assassin who had come to the city specifically to kill him. If you were writing a novel or screenplay, anything that coincidental would be branded as implausible. No one's gonna believe that.

Princip didn't hesitate. He dropped his sandwich, pulled a pistol out of his jacket and stepped towards the car, firing several shots, managing to mortally wound both the Archduke and his wife. Lojka, the driver, was ordered to rush the royal couple to the local military governor's residence. Sophie died on the way. A military officer in the car, checking on the Archduke's condition, asked the wounded man how he was; Ferdinand said, "Nichts (It's nothing)", and died.

Just over a month later, Europe was at war. Over the next four-plus years, the entire social fabric of the continent and much of the world changed, irrevocably. Monarchies ended; millions died; the map of the world changed as the victors annexed territory from Germany and Austria Hungary, and new countries were created. New technology was developed -- and in the Versailles Treaty, the groundwork was laid for a second, even more horrible war to begin by 1939.

(And, in 1918-19, the Spanish Influenza infected 500 million people, killing 40 million, worldwide. It was the largest number of fatalities due to pandemic disease since the 'Black Death': the coming of  Bubonic Plague to Europe in the 14th century [which killed an estimated 200 million].  In the U.S., millions were made sick, and 675,000 died [~0.6 per cent of America's 103 million population at the time]. It's often referred to as the "forgotten epidemic" -- just one more terrible event in an ocean of violence and atrocity.)

 Cousin Ignatz, Worn Out By All The History

Why the history lesson? We're living through history. When we read about events in Europe during the Interwar Years (1918 - 1939), there's a feeling of inevitability, of being slowly sucked down a drain -- the revolving-door failures of parliamentary governments in France; Britain's declining empire; the manic Totentanz of global capital leading to 1929 and the Great Depression; the rise and fall of Weimar; the apotheosis of Italian and Japanese, and finally German, fascism. Regional war and civil war. 

... and we know where the story is going. It ends in Nanking, the Anschluss; Kristalnacht, Dunkirk; Auschwitz; Stalingrad; the Warsaw Ghetto; D-Day; the Führerbunker; Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we always read about the years leading up to all that with a mounting sense of horror precisely because we all know how it ends. 

And we have the same feeling, looking at major global currents in our own time. While Brexit may be not have been a "shot heard 'round the world", the Tories are still (unbelievably), in power in the UK. The Scots still wonder about independence. The Greek, French and Italian economies are still at risk. Putinland, the Great Bear, still pushes the envelope here and there -- in Ukraine, and Syria. As IS loses on battlefields in the continuing slow-motion atrocity that is the Middle East, suddenly they appear in a Philippine city, on a London street. Disproportionate numbers of Black people are shot in major American cities on a routine basis. Climate change is not fake news.

America, ruled by Babbitry, greed and illusion, retreats from the world stage. Its leader is Bloated, Raving, delegating the running of a government to corrupt, car-wash dilettantes. Other nation-state players are happy to rush into the vacuum we leave behind. The balances in the old alliances we created after WWII have been squandered, all but unraveled. 

A regional conflict -- between India and Pakistan; Kim Jong Fat Boy's Fun Republic Of Chuckles and South Korea; Iran and Saudi Arabia, almost seems like a sure thing -- 'of course that's where all this is going'; no one would be truly surprised if one started tomorrow. What we wouldn't be prepared for is what would happen the day after, and the day after that.

Kleiner Mann; Was Nun?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I Want Fires With That Fresh Crisis, Thanks

No Ordinary Times

German-American Bund Rally, Buffalo, NY, 1936

There is a conspiracy theory -- pushed most visibly on Fox, or audibly by Alex Jones -- that a Deep State fabricated information about a connection between Trump and his campaign with Russia's government; that the FBI and American intelligence agencies, during the election, placed Trump and his associates under surveillance and -- with the hated Obama in the White House --  provided political information to the Democrats.

After Trump's great victory, the same conspirators ensured that the Democrats would use this false information created about Trump to force appointment of a Special Counsel, and the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia around the Presidential election. And that all this happened in a coordinated attempt to first subvert Trump's candidacy, then undermine his authority as President, and even force him from office.

Weeks ago, Trump's hand-picked Attorney General announced that he believed there had been "spying" by the FBI on Trump's campaign in 2016 (alarmed by information they had about Russian attempts to work with the Trump campaign, the FBI had maintained a level of surveillance). He told senators that he was conducting his own investigation, uh, of the investigation.

Now, the President of the United States has just handed Attorney General Barr the authority to access, review, and declassify any information held by any of the national intelligence or law enforcement agencies.

This is an unprecedented, big fucking deal. It means that Barr will provide Trump with whatever information Trump wants to know. On the President's authority, Barr will have access to all FBI counterintelligence and CIA or NSA material which he deems relevant to his inquiry. The only person Barr has to answer to is Trump. And Barr has previously asked to be advised of all intelligence assets (read: spies) the United States has in Russia.

This is the same President who said yesterday during a press event that persons who had conducted investigations of him -- his political enemies -- were treasonous. A reporter at the event told Trump that in America, treason is punishable by death, and asked, "You've accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?"

 “Well, I think a number of people, and I think ... that they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person," Trump said. "If you look at [James] Comey, if you look at [Andrew] McCabe, if you look at probably people higher than that. If you look at [Peter] Strzok, if you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover."

"Take down the wrong person": Trump believes he is the target of an ongoing attempt to remove him from office. He sees that as treason and the people involved as treasonous. Used as a strategy, Trump could take on the world -- the Democrats, out to impeach him; the Deep State, the Media; all his perceived enemies -- by using a toadie like Barr to push a Justice Department investigation of a treasonous conspiracy against the President. Barr has been given a green light to conduct a real witch hunt -- a real, McCarthy-style political pogrom worthy of any tinpot dictator in history.

It doesn't matter that it would be created out of whole cloth. It won't matter that it will be nothing but a taxpayer-financed Disneyland ride for Trump's base, an endless fantasy where Fox News could sell advertising time at even higher rates.

The Trumpista echo chamber is ecstatic ("It's reaping time", one Right-wing pundit crowed). But, among the majority of Americans, it doesn't appear to matter what just happened. Or that Julian Assange is about to be extradited for violation of the espionage act on an indictment created in Barr's Justice Department.

Depending upon who you read or listen to, a large percentage of Americans appear to believe Russia / Russia's government / Putin and his clique of Oligarchs influenced our last Presidential election to assist Trump -- a figure guaranteed to pour gasoline on smoldering, unresolved contradictions in America's history. Were Trump elected, it would produce a 1968-style upheaval in the U.S., and our ability as a global player -- for good, or for ill -- would be diminished. Other international actors would benefit.

An Ipsos poll from 2018 put the number at 60%. There are some heavyweight actors in American politics, government and culture among that number.

There are those who don't agree, because they see Trump's apotheosis as part of a larger context of politics and culture in America. Some observe the U.S. has been interfering in other nations' elections for decades -- so 2016 is just a matter of chickens and roosts. Others argue that the 'Russian Interference' meme is a conspiracy by neoliberals in America's Democratic party, a Deep State and the media.

It may be an optical illusion, but the events regarding Russia and Trump, before and after the 2016 election, make the story of Watergate (one of only two political scandals many alive today might remember, along with Bill Clinton's impeachment) appear simple by comparison. Nixon was our Trump, then. I came of age under LBJ, but it was Tricky's war I experienced; so, when Watergate spilled into the media and the House Select Committee televised hearings, I never missed a beat.

But Nixon confined his efforts in subverting the political process, obstructing justice, and running a criminal conspiracy from the Oval Office to a relatively small number of people. None of them included members of his immediate family. It's tough to imagine loyal Pat, delivering hush money to ex-CIA burglars, or David Eisenhower holding meetings about how to discredit political enemies. And Tricky never used the Office of the President as an obvious method of self-enrichment.

That's not the case with 'The Russia Thing'. The number of actors, the parallel subplots... it's too much to keep track of.  And to muddy the waters still further, add to it that the Trump-Russia Story is overlaid on a shakily-financed, family business 'empire' dominated by a limited, narcissistic bully, his children and paid toadies, who simply moved their base of operations into the highest echelon of government.

Clearly, this description presents how the 'Russia Thing' is viewed by at least one part of  America's Left political spectrum, and it's a fact-based perspective. The Right is generally so full of Crazy there wouldn't be enough space in all Blogostan to describe it (though Dave Neiwert comes very close).

The Russia Thing is too much to keep track of (I tried, on a bet with myself. I lost.). The sheer volume of details is overwhelming -- if a percentage of those people on the Left, who don't accept a Russian conspiracy to hack the Presidency, were shown to feel that way because they just can't get their arms around the Thing, it would make perfect sense.

Journalist Matt Taibbi was trying to understand another mind-bending, interconnected set of circumstances -- the subprime housing market and derivatives Crash of 2008.  He spoke with a number of finance Subject Matter Experts, trying to visualize how the virtual collapse of America's investment industry could have happened, and couldn't: It was just too complex.

Finally, one person suggested his approach was mistaken. He was writing it as a business story -- "Look at it as a crime story," the person said; and for Taibbi, something clicked. Because in the end, it really was a story about a crime.

You could say that Trump's reaction to the Special Counsel's investigation, to the Mueller Report's catalog of his obstruction, is just pique -- that he's pissed. Like any bully, he has a history of getting even, and will use all powers of the Office of the President to strike back at perceived enemies. You could say, it's just politics -- and if he's acting more like a dictator than any American President before him... well ... he's an unconventional politician, right?  If you were him, you'd be defensive, too; right?

But what continues to bother me is the amount of effort which Trump, his family members, his cronies and toadies have expended on the issue of Russia. On defending Vladimir Putin, and praising Russia and its government. It's true; Russia is a major global player -- but that is so because Putin has inserted Russian interests into every major flashpoint of international affairs.  You can't ignore them. But they aren't America's friend and ally. Europeans have been, but that seems less certain, in the second year of Trump's reign.

Trump behaves like a person with something to hide -- on the political front; with his business finances; and his connections to Russians. And the lengths, detailed in the Mueller report, he went in trying to quash any investigation into his Russian connections or those of his campaign are so clearly obstruction you'd have to be blind not to see it.

Republicans in Congress have known or suspected there was something serious about Trump's Russian connections from the beginning. But they don't give two hoots about that.  Some have noted that Trump has an overwhelming, magnetic personal influence which manifests itself in one-on-one contact.  It's how sociopaths operate, and to anyone unfamiliar with negotiation or interrogation strategies, Trump's abilities may appear like a Jedi mind trick. What else explains how Graham, McConnell,  and other GOP leaders have turned into slavish toadies for the sake of -- what, exactly?

People do things for reasons. You can debate whether those reasons merited this or that behavior, but people don't act without motivation. And, believe me -- people don't go to jail for no reason, either; ask Paul Manafort.

There may be a more-or-less innocent explanation, for all of it -- but with what we know about how Trump has conducted his business affairs for forty years, I doubt it. There is a large amount of smoke around The Russia Thing, enough that we can't clearly define its shape. But there is smoke; it's coming from something. I don't know what it is, but all my instincts tell me it's there.

The problem is, The Russia Thing isn't what we need to be worried about.

Trump's behavior needs to be considered against a backdrop of up-tempo for Impeachment in the House; the potential death-by-irrelevancy of the mainstream with of the Democratic party; the prospect of the Kavanaugh Court removing Roe v. Wade protections for women; the trade war with China; rise of authoritarian nationalism; the possibility of armed conflict with Iran in the Gulf; and a slow-walk towards the next international financial crisis. Through it all, Trump has been acting both more emboldened, and senile dementia-fueled batshit crazy.

...and he's been frustrated, stymied, denied a massive political victory that would show the world He Is The Great One, The Trump; No One Is Greater Than He. Someone (if not Barr) whispered to Trump that the AG and Department of Justice effectively report to the Executive Branch. That they, and a neutered FBI, can be instruments in at least helping Trump appear popular and strong, the right atmosphere for reelection: Four More Years!

As he stonewalls subpoenas and asserts Executive privilege, at the end of that legal road will be the United States Supreme Court -- now packed with Right-wing ideologues, Federalist Society members who don't give two hoots about The People -- everybody knows the fix is in; everyone expects another Bush v. Gore.

It doesn't seem like too absurd an idea that Barr's investigation could end with accusations of a conspiracy against Trump. More likely, it would become a leitmotif of his reelection campaign, hijack the focus of 2020 from the Democrats, further polarize the country, and rally the Right wing around Trump's usual themes of fear and race and conspiracy: 'they' are trying to steal your country from you.

The Democratic party's leaders seem determined to relive the 2016 election. Their most attractive candidate at the moment (in polls, anyway) is so clearly a "Person of Honor", when contrasted against against a foul-mouthed, compulsive liar. Their strategy, at the moment, seems to be a bet that America has had enough of incivility and drama, exhausted by the culture wars of the past thirty years-- enough to vote for The Very Nice Man.

I wouldn't make that bet. Trump is a master narcissist; he excels at making everything about him. Americans have shown an unbelievable capacity for cognitive dissonance in politics and to focus on the trivial. And our exalted media buys into it with gusto: Trump's tantrums are The Shiny Object of every news cycle for the Rubes.

And, the political Right is a pack of proto-nazis who don't give two hoots about Nice. Or honor. Or whales and elephants and sea levels. Or you and me.

Relative to all this, The Russia Thing is almost incidental. As usual, these days, we've moved on to a fresh new crisis.

MEHR, MIT ICH BIN EIN HUND HUND HUND:  I meant "Fries". In the title.  I want French Fries with that fresh, new Modern World crisis, please.  Not 'Fires'.  Although, now that I think about it, Fires is a lot closer to my actual feelings about the matter than carved potato sections.  

Never Mind.

However, in trying to fix what was wrong with my F'ed up free blogging platform, I found changing the Post Title is a transgression, curable only by reposting with the changed title name, and deleting the old post -- which makes any link to the original Null u. Ungültig.  

MEHR, MIT THE FRIES NEXT TIME: The BBC reports "Biden team says Trump taunts 'beneath the dignity of the office'."  The civility wars begin. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

An Advance Note

Random Barking 
(From October, 2012)

I'm fond of saying that there are three people and a super-intelligent Parakeet who read this blog on any regular basis, and since the Fall of 2008 it's been a semi-regular conduit for one level of personal creativity.

Out here in The Intertubes, anyone can promote the most bizarre theories, show hardcore adult material, or the 10,000 photos of a trip to Milwaukee, share the most deeply esoteric or intolerant religious doctrines. And (what corporate America sees as the Net's true purpose) you can look at, buy and sell stuff.

Whatever you want, man; it's the Wild West out there.

What makes all that possible is the current democratic structure of the Net.  At least in the West, it isn't yet controlled by corporate or government interests in an obvious way -- though the Net is heavily mined and monitored by those same interests, for security, intelligence and marketing. But for individuals, the 'Tubes are still fairly democratic, and I understand there are differing opinions about this. You vote with your Mouse -- utilize a search engine; surf in, look around, click away.

If your primary business is web design, pushing product, or message, or expressing an opinion, your Alexa or Klout numbers, total Facebook followers and Twits are all-important. On that level it's a popularity contest, which develops in any media dependent on Market Share.

At least outwardly, that's why Fox decided to ditch Little Glenny Beck, and why the MSM continues to pay so much attention to a vapid hack like Drudge.  If more "media consumers" believed they were nothing but gleeful pushers of right-wing lies, they might vanish (but no other network has been willing to develop an opposing business model to challenge Fox or ClearChannel).

Then, there's the opinion section of Blogtopia -- mostly personal blog sites like this one, though Opinion Street includes heavy hitters like TPM and Daily Kos and FiveThirtyEight, and specialists in Investment or Finance, Law, and Public Policy.  How it is that people like what they like in this part of the Net is a tricky question. So, this seems like a good place to quote myself:
There were a large number of blogs I used to follow when it was a new phenomenon -- Hey, you can hang out there and pretty much say whatever you want! By now, as with any industry, for those bloggers who have continued providing analysis and entertainment to the Intertubes, they've developed into tribes, circles of mutually-supporting friends, each with their own sites.

Woe betide you if you bore them, piss them off, or are identified as a Troll. Commenting at their sites is a bit like appearing, the stranger, at someone's party and if you just don't quite fit in... Well; I believe the Intertube Tradition is they don't get to sit at the cool kids' table, and for the most part, that's pretty much the level of where it's at.

I don't try to sit at the kool kid's table. I'm not a concise or original blogger when it comes to social commentary or Left politics, and even when I make jokes as a commenter it's occasionally as if I'd made a bad smell in the room.

But if acclaim as a blogger, or a name as a commenter on other blogs, is the reason why someone posts... That's the functional equivalent of going into acting just to read the reviews.
Und, Noch Eimal:
Some pundits with a large soapbox to stand on... deserve to be ignored, vilified; to have their IP addresses blocked and sent to dwell in the land of Little Rupert, East of Podhoretz...  but they won't leave. They won't perform a swan song -- a GBCW! post: Good-Bye, Cruel World!

...Sometimes, the GBCW is purely voluntary. At some level, the Blogosphere -- Left or Right -- mimics high school. Bloggers and regular commenters tend to affiliate, and like any other association of humans can be exclusionary. On occasion someone appears whose style in posting comments is grating, awkward. They insist on being right, on dominating a thread; they just don't express ideas well. They may be off-topic, [or] are thin-skinned when teased -- as they will be (humans are humans, and anonymous ones even more so).

Usually, these people have a blog of their own. They want to be one of the Kool Kidz, too, and have lots of site traffic -- to be popular.  To "be someone".
The problem is, they already are someone, and they've confused the raison d'etre of their blog, or commenting on someone else's post, with wanting to appear on something like the old Gong Show.

So, when no one reads their amazingly important, detailed, lengthy blog posts; and they're ignored when adding to threads on other sites... they may write that GBCW post, clomping off the Internet stage with a final, long soliloquy explaining ad nauseum why they are right and the rest of the world is wrong, wrong, wrong; and also, bad. 
 I'll get back with the three people and the super-intelligent Parakeet a little later.

Friday, February 22, 2019

What We Leave Behind


Charlie Chaplin, 1914

Some spiritual traditions believe in additional dimensions of existence; that the world most of us see as the only reality is one place where thought can be transformed into physicality.

Everywhere we look, there's an idea translated into concrete form, and associated with positive or negative energy -- speeches, laws and regulations; social agreements around money, sexuality, role and status; value. And most obviously, images, novels, poetry; music. Even the simplest transaction between strangers, a word or a look or a tone of voice, carries some form of energy.

Following that perspective, the world might be viewed as the collective energy in all ideas, actions and objects in it at any given moment. In that view, reality is defined by what we as individuals and as a species put into it.

When a playlist of music you're listening to on Soundcloud runs out, an algorithm in the service continues providing a shuffle of tunes with similar themes or instrumentation. In that way, I found myself listening to a melody composed by Charlie Chaplin for his film, A King In New York (if you use Soundcloud, search on "Charlie Chaplin Filmmusic - Mandolin Serenade").

That brought up a stream of images of Chaplin that I carry around in long-term memory -- mostly, his iconic 'Little Tramp' character. His acting and films were so influential that for generations almost any adult, nearly anywhere in the world, might see a drawing of a figure with a postage-stamp moustache, wearing a bowler hat, and say, "Oh, that's Chaplin!" and smile.

Early Little Tramp: Mack Sennett's Caught In The Rain, 1914

Chaplin started as a 24-year-old immigrant from Britain, a contract actor for Mack Sennett's film company in 1914 (the photo at the top of the post; he looked like almost any Dude you might pass on the street today). His Little Tramp routine caught Sennett's eye -- initially a burlesque on an "affable drunkard", a bit loutish and inconsiderate and sloppily boozed. Chaplin's humor was physical, perfect for the trademark slapstick of Sennett's short films, and his comic timing was amazing.

Within four years, Chaplin had refined the Tramp into a more sober, sharper, plucky 'Everyman'. The Tramp became one of Sennett's most popular short-film characters -- and whenever a new Chaplin 'flick appeared in local movie-houses, people paid to see him. Lots of people: Chaplin 'packed them in'.

Kid Auto Races, Venice, California (1914); Chaplin's First Film Appearance
As The Tramp, Then Still The Affable Drunk

Like any artist, Chaplin was all about having as much creative control as possible; eventually, he convinced Sennett he could create better films (with the Tramp, of course) for Sennett's company. When a better financial and creative deal became available with another studio, Chaplin jumped at the chance -- and within four years of landing in America, by 1918, Chaplin was one of the most popular 'stars' in moving pictures, and possibly the most highly paid.

In the years immediately after the First World War, he became a founding partner of United Artists, a film company founded to allow film 'artists' more freedom to experiment with the medium, in contrast to what was becoming a Hollywood studio system. UA allowed Chaplin the control he wanted over his work, and in less than a decade he had created some of the best  American silent films (arguably, some of the best motion pictures) ever made: The Kid, "The Gold Rush"; "The Circus"; "A Dog's Life", and Pay Day, to name a few.

Arguing With The Boss: Pay Day (1922)

Sound motion pictures appeared in 1927. Four years later, Chaplin released City Lights, a film without dialog, only a music soundtrack he had composed, after Talkies had all but buried silent films. He continued in 1936 with another classic, Modern Times, again accompanied only by a soundtrack of Chaplin's music. As an art form, it wouldn't be used again for forty years, until Mel Brooks' Silent Movie.

The western press mocked Hitler in his early days as dictator by referring to him as "the politician with the Chaplin moustache". True to form, Charlie used the humor in that comparison to create a parody of Adolf and his Reich in The Great Dictator (released in 1940) not long after the Second World War began. After 1945, Chaplin made only four other films: "Monsieur Verdoux" (1947), Limelight (1952); "A King In New York" (1957), and A Countess From Hong Kong (1967).

Chaplin's work showcased poor and working people in the early Twentieth century, easily shoved about by authority and manipulated by wealth. His films made clear he was no fan of unbridled capitalism, industrialism or the dehumanizing, assembly-line exploitation of labor. In 1947, when  anti-communist hysteria spawned House Un-American Activities Committee investigations of Red influence in Hollywood, Chaplin was tailor-made to become a target. It didn't help that he had unwittingly made an enemy out of J.Edgar Hoover, whom Chaplin had met in the mid 1920's.

Gossip about Chaplin as a wealthy actor and director involved him and young women under the age of consent -- of his four wives, two were sixteen, and another eighteen, when they married. His Leftist, anti-authoritarian political views were clear. Hoover's Bureau collected gossip (and any information in an FBI file must be legitimate) on thousands of Americans, which Hoover was happy to use for personal and political ends during his 70-year reign.

To Hoover, Chaplin was just another foreign national -- and a Jew, Hoover believed -- with loose morals and radical political sympathies, forcing radical propaganda down the throats of innocent Americans through his films. His interest in Chaplin nearly amounted to obsession: the actor / director was a target of FBI surveillance from the mid-1920's until his death in 1977, and his FBI file may be the largest publicly known (over 2,000 pages) of any prominent public figure in the agency's archives.

As Chaplin left the U.S. in 1952 to attend the London premiere of his film, Limelight, the Justice Department revoked the re-entry permit on his resident alien visa. To be allowed to return, he would have to "submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behavior". Hoover was behind the move; he had asked England's own Bureau, MI-5, to provide confirmation of Chaplin's communist connections, and for proof that his real name was 'Israel Thornstein'. MI-5 found no proof that Chaplin was a Red, and didn't respond to Hoover's antisemitism.

The FBI's files on Chaplin, released under Freedom Of Information Act requests, show the U.S. government had no serious evidence to prevent his return to America if he had applied for re-entry. While Limelight received praise and success in Europe, Chaplin was smeared as a communist sympathizer in the U.S., and the film boycotted. Frightened and disgusted, after living and working in America for thirty years Chaplin decided not to go back.

... and he didn't, until in 1972 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which had done little to stand up to Hoover, McCarthy or the HUAC) tried to make amends by voting to award a Lifetime Achievement Oscar to Chaplin "for the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of [the 20th] century."

At 83, having had a series of small strokes and other health issues, unsure how he would be received in a country he believed had rejected and then forgotten him and his work, Chaplin came to Hollywood and was visibly moved when the attending crowd gave him a twelve-minute standing ovation -- the longest tribute of that kind by the Academy in its history.

Easy Street, 1917

Chaplin's Tramp, and other main characters in his films, were ordinary 'folks' -- mostly poor, or at the mercy of Fate and Chance. The world of his films was familiar to the people who could find a nickel to see them, and populated by easily-recognizable archetypes: regular, working-class Joes and Janes; office workers; the bullies and bosses; streetwise kids, shopkeepers and beat cops.

The Tramp -- at the bottom of the social ladder -- had to make a tremendous effort to overcome his circumstances, just to achieve some happiness or justice. He hoped for something better than what he had. And, the stories in Chaplin's movies were transformational, where that Good Ending comes about by helping an Other -- the Girl; the Child; the Friend.

The Kid, 1921

In The Kid, the Tramp finds and raises a little orphaned boy -- whom he had initially wanted nothing to do with -- then rescues him from the clutches of a brutal County Orphan Commissioner, using the Tramp's poverty as the excuse to take the child away. You know when he embraces the boy that the Tramp loves him, will protect and care for the Kid as if he were his own. They're still dirt poor, but the little boy is safe -- and in a world where anything can happen, that's the point. It's everything.

City Lights (1931)

In City Lights, possibly Chaplin's best film (it was his favorite work), the Tramp is poor and homeless, ignored by most people, teased by a pair of wiseass newsboys -- but meets, becomes friends with (and almost immediately falls for) a beautiful blind girl, reduced to selling flowers on the street to help support herself and her grandmother. Whenever they meet, she gives him a small, white rose.

When he speaks, she mistakes his voice for that of a wealthy millionaire she's heard in the neighborhood where she sells her flowers, and (more out of embarrassment than some attempt to impress her) the Tramp allows her to believe it's true.

Later, when the Girl falls ill, the Tramp learns she might recover her sight -- but only through an expensive medical procedure. He works to save the money; after more plot twists, the operation is paid for and a success. Her vision restored, the Girl is able to open a flower shop with her grandma -- where she hopes the 'wealthy millionaire' who helped her will appear one day and sweep her off her feet.

Meanwhile, The Tramp, having been tossed in jail after the usual comic misunderstandings, is now even shabbier than when we first met him -- 1930-31 was the worst year of the Great Depression in the U.S. He shuffles along the street, mocked and teased by the same pair of newsboys.

Suddenly, the Tramp sees a small white rose in the gutter and picks it up -- the same flower the blind Girl used to give him. He turns, and is standing in front of the Girl's flower shop; she's sitting inside the front window, and has been watching the antics of the newsboys with this ... street person. She and her grandmother share a laugh; they think it's funny.

When he sees her, The Tramp is overjoyed; she's whole and healthy, but suddenly he's ashamed: she's now a respectable shop owner, and he's not.

The Last Scene Of City Lights; Critic James Agee Described It As
"The greatest piece of acting ever committed to celluloid"

The flower he'd picked up in the gutter is losing its petals; the Girl comes out of the shop to offer him a new rose, and a half-dollar. He carefully accepts the flower; she takes his hand to give him the coin -- and from the feel of his hand, the texture of his coat, all familiar to her when she was blind -- she suddenly realizes who he is. "You?" she asks; the Tramp nods. "You can see now?" he asks; she replies, "I can see now" -- meaning, it wasn't a wealthy man she had been waiting for, but the one with a heart, who helped her.

As he looks back at The Girl, the Tramp smiles. In his expression is every person who ever hoped for good luck in a hard world, a chance to care deeply about someone and have them care about you -- and barely able to believe, after everything, that it's come true. The screen fades to black.

We can't know the sum of the actions of Chaplin, the man. We do know more about the effect of his artistic output on the world -- and it's much greater than "making motion pictures the art form of the [Twentieth] century".

From the perspective of the world being the sum of what is put into it -- even though they drew on earlier forms of storytelling, Chaplin's movies helped define what the motion picture medium could be. His films were moral, in the same way as Dickens' serialized novels: they showcased human folly and the absurd nature of life; they reminded us how we ought to treat each other. How our societies should reflect that, not just to serve as vehicles for commerce and acquisition, avarice, and domination.

Chaplin's films weren't meant to portray a perfect world, no matter that some of their plot resolutions might seem like fairy-tale-magic. They presented hopes human beings have for how life might be, how things might turn out if the Fates were kind -- and that on occasion, our hopes can be made concrete and real, in this world. His movies affected people, first; he made us laugh. He still does.

In These Times, it might seem that Chaplin's work is outdated, less recognizable, but something tells me that's not the case: Chaplin is still iconic. And if we have an opportunity to add to the world even a fraction of what he left behind in his art, we'll have done something important -- if only because we need so much more of that now.

MEHR, Mit einer offensichtlichen Sache, die ich vermisst habe:  I was adding this 'Mehr', when something happened, and the entire post was deleted. No hope of recovery. Just - gone. It was like hiking for miles to get to the truck to take you home, and it just pulls away; you're eating dust, screaming at the top of your lungs, and know nothing can help. 

JEDOCH, Es Ist So: The post was open in the browser on my smarter-than-me phone -- and if I wanted to Man Up and transcribe retype it, from scratch, it would be remade.  

UND So Wurde Es Gemacht War: But Dear Fucking God Jesus and the Yeti, I never want to go through that again.

UND SO WEITER: The Girl Who Refused To Be Mrs Mongo said, "You write about Chaplin and his politics, and you miss the final speech from The Great Dictator? Shame!"