Prophet and Loss: I watch “Roger and Me”

Along with Barcelona, my other RNC counterprogramming was Michael Moore's 1989 documentary, Roger and Me. It's structured around Moore's quest to get a personal interview with Roger Smith, the head of General Motors, who is in the process of basically devastating Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich. by closing the GM plant there. It's incredibly powerful--I don't think there's a wasted frame. A few thoughts, beyond my basic thought which is just, "You should see this movie."Artistically it is … [Read more...]

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The Only Song in the World: Short movie notes

In order of when I saw them, so this will get whiplashy.Me Without You: Brutally disappointing. The bait: Two girls forge a best friendship (YES) in the late '70s/early '80s (YES) complete with druggie punk adventures (YES!) and talking about finding their "soulmate" while using their feet to share a cigarette (YES!!!!). One of them is even Jewish!!The switch: Joke's on you, gen-X lesbian, their friendship is holding them back and it falls apart in the face of the obvious imperatives of … [Read more...]

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“The Gun Control We Deserve”: Terrific article

at n+1: At the deepest level, the schizoid landscape of American gun control is the product of two phenomena, both baked into the American past and protean in their contemporary manifestations. First, a long history of skirmishes over who should be armed and how—fraught battles that pivot on questions of race, class, masculinity, and the role of law enforcement.1 Second, the synergy between American militarism and capitalism: a perennial entanglement that has produced a society in which there a … [Read more...]

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I Don’t Believe in Modern Love (But I Do Love “Modern Manners”)

Recently revisited Modern Manners: An Etiquette Guide for Rude People, my favorite PJ O'Rourke. I think what makes it work is the mix of elements. It's mostly corny humor, like the extended segment on food fights ("Use a raw oyster to show someone what a French kiss would be like if she'd married a reptile"). There's also a lot of witticism: a lot of peppy, preppy cynicism. But mixed into all that there is just enough genuine insight (the bit about how modern people have replaced love with … [Read more...]

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The Soul Searchers: Four Moral Histories of Washington, DC

In preparation for this exhibit at the Anacostia Museum I've been reading about my hometown's long, hot summer--the years from 1968 through the late '90s--and its aftermath. These are really just notes.Ruben Castaneda, S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, And Redemption in DC: Four stories, mostly deftly woven together. First is our narrator, a reporter in LA who gets hooked on crack before moving to DC to be the night-shift crime reporter for the Washington Post. Our man straight-up interviews … [Read more...]

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“Moral Reconation Theory”: The Bizarre, Creepy Made-Up Religion Used to Re-Educate American Prisoners

like, the Scientology and Goldman Sachs stuff is not even the weirdest or most disturbing stuff in this piece: ...I wanted to find out more about this strange book that has been forced on a million people in the prison system, this book that uses terms and ideas from Scientology and tells people that their immoral personalities are responsible for their substance use, their incarceration and their unhappiness.But for an organization that purports to seek to help as many people as pos … [Read more...]

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A Principal, A Senator, And Two Stories of Second Chances

I'm esp struck by the role of Christian faith in both of these pieces.Nancy Hanks, "A Principal Met a Student She Expelled, And It Changed Her Approach to Discipline": ...I prayed for forgiveness for that time and any other time I betrayed the privilege given to me to be a steward and protector over the children I serve. For anytime I never just let my students just be kids. Goofy, carefree kids that make mistakes — sometimes big and sometimes small. For holding kids to standards that I d … [Read more...]

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