Nuclear Responses: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Let’s see, after decades of trying to get the people “in charge” to rid the world of nuclear energy and replace it with other forms of energy as well as putting both time and money into developing newer, safer forms of energy, we find ourselves in the midst of the greatest global nuclear disaster since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And that’s on top of a country already decimated by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

So what are some of the experts here in America saying about all this? Well, let’s start with everyone’s favorite expert on all things dangerous, Rush Limbaugh:

“Which is the bigger problem: Japan’s reactors, or our over-reactors in the news media? The media wants a disaster in Japan. These people are looking for disaster. They want disaster upon disaster. They want the nuclear meltdown. They want the Japanese syndrome, if you will. They want this stuff… this is just the wanton spreading of fear.”

Rush also used this “occasion” to put down President Obama. Surprise, surprise…

So while Limbaugh is underplaying the danger of the scenario in Japan, let’s here from the other extreme side of the coin, which is Harvey Wasserman of, who also uses this opportunity to bash Obama. At least these two “experts” can agree on something:

Now I remember attending the No Nukes Rallies in 1979 in New York City, so my desire to see a nuclear-free world has been with me since my teens. And, at various points in my life, I have been quite vocal about it. However, and it’s sad to admit, at other times I have been altogether silent, complacent.

So it will be interesting to see if what’s taking place now will ultimately be a wake-up call for the world, or whether we all choose to hit the snooze button once again.

Nuclear Responses: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Happy 71st Birthday, Phil Lesh!

What better way to celebrate Phil’s birthday than with a taste of the man’s work from just day’s ago. Here’s the first part of THE OTHER ONE, with terrific sound and video quality, showcasing Phil’s always startling and thrilling bass work. This just shows that the man and the band have never been better. This is from the Best Buy Theater in Times Square New York on March 10, 2011. Enjoy! And watch out for that bass intro!


Happy 71st Birthday, Phil Lesh!

Ben Gazzara, 80, Talks HUSBANDS, Career.

Last Saturday night (March 12, 2011) at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles, Ben Gazzara, now a vigorous age 80, took the stage for a Q&A before a screening of the Cassavetes-directed film, HUSBANDS. Gazzara was, despite a head cold, articulate, funny, gracious and still full of just the right amount of piss and vinegar. It was a great night all around and a rare treat, to say the least.

For those who could not attend the sold out evening or simply would like to relive it, here’s the audio from that Q&A and even a film clip from THE STRANGE ONE, all courtesy of my iPhone. Enjoy…

Gazzara Q&A Part 1

Gazzara Q&A Part 2 (STRANGE ONE video clip)

Gazzara Q&A Part 3

Gazzara Q&A Part 4

Gazzara Q&A Part 5

Ben Gazzara, 80, Talks HUSBANDS, Career.

Eyes Wide: In Memory Of Stanley Kubrick

It was 12 years ago today that one of the greatest filmmakers of all time died. On March 7, 1999, Stanley Kubrick, just weeks before the release of what would be his final film, went to sleep and never woke up again. I can say with absolute conviction that my approach to film, my love, passion and admiration of the art form, is a direct result of seeing Kubrick’s films at an early age. I saw 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in its initial release. I was six years old. I returned again on opening day for its re-release in 1972. For me, Kubrick understood cinema, the language of film, like few others. He lived it, breathed it, consumed it. And even more than that, he consistently pushed the boundaries of what cinema was, what it was capable of, even in the face of harsh criticism. EYES WIDE SHUT was his final masterpiece and it was, like so many Kubrick films, misunderstood in its time.

“If you go back and look at the contemporary reactions to any Kubrick picture (except the earliest ones), you’ll see that all his films were initially misunderstood. Then, after five or ten years came the realization that 2001 or Barry Lyndon or The Shining was like nothing else before or since.” –Martin Scorsese

There are those who argue that EYES WIDE SHUT is a failed film because they believe Kubrick would have re-cut it in the final weeks before its release. And he may well have. He had certainly done that previously with other films. But never in a way that dramatically altered the film’s essence. 2001 was shortened by 17 minutes (that footage was recently rediscovered). However, Kubrick claimed that he did not prefer one cut over the other.

“I didn’t believe that the trims made a critical difference. The people who like it, like it no matter what its length, and the same holds true for the people who hate it”.

I believe the same holds true for EYES. The film as it stands is, in my opinion, one of the only film masterpieces to come out of Hollywood in the last three decades. This was the work of an artist at the top of his form and not, as many in Hollywood would have you believe, the work of a man secluded and out of touch with the world. From the New World Encyclopedia:

According to his friends and family, Eyes Wide Shut was Kubrick’s personal favorite of his own films… The general consensus is that Kubrick was very happy with his final film at the time of his death.

Kubrick’s in-depth exploration of sex, relationships, marriage, fidelity, sexual fantasy and society, particularly American society and its oftentimes hypocritical notions of social morality, was beyond anything audiences had ever seen. Kubrick always felt that film should be more like music than like fiction; that it should be felt before it was understood. It seems that in not “understanding” the film, audiences and many critics dismissed the work as a failure. But it was, in fact, a work told in a language enhanced and explored by its maker. Like those who cannot put down a book by Stephen King but find it difficult to get past the first page of a book by Evelyn Waugh, the cinematic language of EYES WIDE SHUT left many bewildered and, instead of looking inward, they pointed their fingers at the film and its filmmaker. Luckily, many of Kubrick’s filmic peers recognized the mastery of his work. Steven Spielberg commented that the way in which Kubrick tells a story is antithetical to the way we are accustomed to receiving stories.” Martin Scorsese, in his introduction to Michael Ciment’s Kubrick: The Definitive Edition, observed of EYES WIDE SHUT:

“Many people were put off by the film’s unreality – the New York streets were too big, the orgy scene was a total fantasy, the action was slow and deliberate. All of this is true, and if the movie were designed to be realistic, it would be absolutely reasonable to judge these as failings. But Eyes Wide Shut is based on a Schnitzler novella called Dream Story, the story of a rift in a marriage told with the logic of a dream. And as with all dreams, you never know precisely when you’ve entered it. Everything seems real and lifelike, but different, a little exaggerated, a little off. Things appear to happen as if they were preordained, sometimes in a strange rhythm from which it’s impossible to escape. Audiences really had no preparation for a dream movie that didn’t announce itself as such, without the usual signals- hovering mists, people appearing and disappearing at will or floating off the ground. Like Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia, another film severely misunderstood in its time, Eyes Wide Shut takes a couple on a harrowing journey, at the end of which they’re left clinging to each other. Both are films of terrifying self-exposure. They both ask the question: How much trust and faith can you really place in another human being? And they both end tentatively, yet hopefully. Honestly. “Watching a Kubrick film is like gazing up at a mountaintop. You look up and wonder, how could anyone have climbed that high? There are emotional passages and images and spaces in his films that have an inexplicable power, with a magnetic force that draws you in slowly, mysteriously. [Like] the raw intimacy of the exchanges between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut. “…[Kubrick] was unique in the sense that with each new film he redefined the medium and its possibilities. But he was more than just a technical innovator. Like all visionaries, he spoke the truth. And no matter how comfortable we think we are with the truth, it always comes as a profound shock when we’re forced to meet it face-to-face.”

Whatever reactive buttons Kubrick’s final film initially pushed in audiences, it doesn’t change the fact that time has a glorious way of allowing masterpieces to rise to the surface. I have no doubt that EYES WIDE SHUT will find its rightful place among the great, daring works of American cinema. A film made by a man who knew that he did not want to live in Hollywood, who created an idyllic life surrounded by friends, family and nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the movie-making machine and the egos and tyrants that are, to this day, drawn to it. And in his relatively simple life, Kubrick was able to explore not only himself, but those around him. No, Kubrick was not cut off from the world; he was closer to it than most any other filmmaker living and working in Hollywood today. And EYES WIDE SHUT is the final gift he gave us. Hopefully, as a society, we’ll catch up to it one day and give it the recognition it deserves.

“If Kubrick had lived to see the opening of his final film, he obviously would have been disappointed by the hostile reactions. But I’m sure that in the end he would have taken it with a grain of salt and moved on. That’s the lot of all true visionaries, who don’t see the use of working in the same vein as everyone else. Artists like Kubrick have minds expansive and dynamic enough to picture the world in motion, to comprehend not just where its been, but where it’s going._ —Martin Scorsese

Eyes Wide: In Memory Of Stanley Kubrick

Mike Huckabee vs. America (and Natalie Portman). Who Will Win?

This is what possible Republican candidates have been reduced to: either they pander to the least-educated, racist, conspiracy-nuts, or they simply don’t stand a chance. Mike Huckabee has recently received some flack from the left (and any sane individuals remaining on the right) for not only misrepresenting President Obama as having been raised in Kenya (Obama didn’t actually visit Kenya until he was in his 20’s), but suggesting that Obama’s time spent NOT living in the United States (he did live in Indonesia from ages 6-10) had made him un-American.

“And one thing that I do know is, his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, is very different than the average American,” claims Huckabee.

Well, it seems when called out on this, Huckabee’s spokesperson informed us that Huckabee meant to say Indonesia and not Kenya at all! A simple slip of the tongue. Great. So now that we know Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived for a short time in Indonesia and NOT Kenya, we can ask the real question: Why would Obama have issues with the Brits since they never colonized Indonesia (it was, in fact, the Dutch that took that honor)? And wouldn’t it be Americans who might take issue with the Brits since our very country was founded on a war we started to break from British rule? Isn’t that the foundation of this country?

So while Huckabee has since admitted publicly that, yes, Obama is “technically” an American, he still reserves a right to judge Obama’s “spiritual” patriotism:

“…I do think [Pres. Obama] has a different worldview and I think it’s, in part, molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”

I don’t know what fantasy world Huckabee lives in, but I think he just insulted far more Americans than just President Obama. How many American men would you imagine have also not attended Boy Scouts? And how many American women have not attended Girl Scouts? And how popular are those rotary clubs in your community these days? Mike Huckabee is clearly far less in touch with what it means to be an American in 2011 than just about anyone else out there spouting off in public. And for the record, both the Boy Scouts and Rotary are international organizations, not exclusively American. And yes, they have Boy Scouts in Indonesia. And yes, Barack Obama was a Boy Scout there. But perhaps Huckabee feels that only the American arm of the Boy Scouts is truly honorable, and that any attempt to teach such values in a place like Jakarta, where Obama was a member, would be fruitless, even anti-American.

Values like those taught to Huckabee’s son David who, according to Newsweek“was involved in the hanging of a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. The incident led to the dismissal of David Huckabee, then 17, from his job as a counselor at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Ark.”

It has even been suggested (but not proven) that David Huckabee hanged the dog, slit it’s throat and stoned it to death.

But I suppose being a cruel and inhumane Boy Scout in America is more American than not being a Boy Scout at all. Perhaps David Huckabee is next in line for the coveted Dick Cheney Award For Humanitarian Concerns, which automatically comes with a job offer training recruits at Abu Ghraib.

But wait, there’s more! To add insult to injury, Huckabee has also managed to alienate all single mothers by lambasting Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman for being pregnant out of wedlock and “flaunting” it publicly at the Oscars.

“…one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.'”

Maybe Huckabee’s son David might want to consider hanging Ms. Portman from a tree, slitting her throat and stoning her to death.

Or, the Huckabees and others like them can just back off and start the long painful process of coming to terms with the reality that Americans come in all different shapes and sizes, hold many different beliefs, and are never, ever, going to all be like one another no matter how severely you judge them. And the America I personally feel more connected to is one inhabited by the likes of Ms. Portman. But I accept that there are men like Mike and David Huckabee out there. And they also represent what it means to be American. But they have no exclusive claim on the definition.

In the meantime, it seems a vote for Mike Huckabee might just be a vote for open intolerance and moral judgement, albeit of the American variety. Weren’t in the Boy Scouts of America? Not American. Pregnant out of wedlock? Irresponsible and immoral. Bad American. Yes, it seems the margins for being a decent American (or American at all) are very narrow in Huckabee’s book. So get ready because, liberal or conservative, you’re probably not going to make the cut.

Mike Huckabee vs. America (and Natalie Portman). Who Will Win?