Thursday, March 31, 2005
Vexed

Some asshole stole my pot. (The kind you cook food in, not the kind you cook into food.) I'm a bit peeved about this, as I do about 90% of my cooking in that pot, and it's the only one I have... what anybody would want it for is beyond me, but I know making my dinner's going to be a little harder now. Fucking spoilt little rich kids, they think anything they want is theirs by right... grrr. There's little to no chance of recovering it -- there are people around the dorm I trust less than others (right now my suspicions are focused on the girl who won't make eye contact anymore), but I have no evidence. Anyway, it's just stuff, I suppose; I can get by, although I'll probably be a bit pissy when I'm making my dinner for a while.

I've been reading the collected writings of Maya Deren the last couple of days and it's really been something of a minor revelation. She isn't exactly saying anything I haven't heard or thought before, but she's very articulate in stating it:

The major obstacle for amateur filmakers is their own sense of inferiority vis-a-vis professional productions. The very classification "amateur" has an apologetic ring. But that very word -- from the Latin amator, "lover" -- means one who does something for the love of the thing rather than for economic reasons or necessity. And this is the meaning from which the amateur filmmaker should take his cue. Instead of envying the script and dialogue writers, the trained actors, the elaborate staffs and sets, the enormous production budgets of the professional film, the amateur should make use of the one great advantage which all professionals envy him, namely, freedom -- both artistic and physical.

Amateur versus Professional, Movie Makers Annual, 1959

That was written in 1959, just as avant-garde filmmakers like Deren were acquiring the ability to use silent 16mm film. Their concerns then were exactly the same as those the current wave of DV revolutionaries face now; why do we bother trying to reformulate these ideas when they've been around for decades? The obvious answer, of course, is that we don't know our own history.

Deren was hardcore. She literally, if indirectly, starved to death; she was never able to support herself on her work. She began a foundation for independent and avant-garde filmmakers; she mentored Stan Brakhage; she traveled and lectured and held workshops; she received the first Guggenheim grant ever given to a filmmaker and used the money to film Vodoun rituals in Haiti (which, sadly, she never edited together, although a film was eventually assembled from the footage by her husband.)

I've read a lot of great writing on the opportunities and hardships of deeply independent filmmaking in the last few months -- Rob Nilsson, Jon Jost, Wim Wenders, others -- but Maya Deren is easily the most accessible and most thorough of the bunch. Really great stuff.
4:08 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Monday, March 28, 2005
Oh, Also...

Happy belated Easter. By which I mean the pagan one, not the Jesus one. Although if I say that, it makes it seem pretty weird if I then post this:



... but it just wouldn't be Easter without it. And I like it. And so does Smithers. So there it is.
10:22 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Well That Sucked

"... if I luck out and get decent weather, it should be quite enjoyable..."

(__insert derisive snort here__)

Worst. Drive. Ever.

Yesterday was okay. A little drizzle in the morning, and overcast all day, but basically cool. Today, however, was a motherfucking nightmare.

I dunno if any of you saw a radar weather map of the Eastern United States today, but basically there was one massive stretch of green -- heavy rain -- all the way from northern Georgia clear up into New England. I, as you may know, began my second day of driving from Roanoke, Virginia, and headed north through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Upstate New York -- right through the fucking middle of that mass of rain. It tracked north with me as I drove. It rained on me from the moment I pulled out of the Troutville Travelodge parking lot until the time I pulled into the dorm driveway. And not just a little drizzly damp, no -- I'm talking full-on nasty, heavy rain blatting incessantly on my windshield for twelve goddamn hours. I tell you, I was about to completely lose my shit.

Actually, come to think of it, I tell a lie... along about the Poconos, it let up a bit to make way for the pea-soup fog. Then when I got to the edge of Vermont -- the final forty miles of a 1300-mile trip, it finished off with the coup de grace: rain and fog, in the dark, with a little sleet mixed in here and there for good measure. All this on hazardous Route 9, still considered to be the most dangerous stretch of highway in the United States, all sharp curves and steep grades, an embankment on one side and a yawning chasm on the other. My only saving grace was that there were so few cars on the road (they all had better sense than me) I didn't have to worry about running into any moving objects.

I'm back in my dorm room now, safe and sound, but my nerves are completely fried. My hands are shaking, not from fear -- I'm an intrepid traveler -- but from sheer tension. I've been gripping my steering wheel like a madwoman for literally half the day.

Yep, I sure picked the wrong goddamn weekend to make that trip.

Anyway, I'm completely unpacked now, and I've got my new computer set up and running on the college network. It's so fast! And when I wake up every day, I won't have to bundle up and walk the nearly-half-a-mile from the upper-upper-upper parking lot, up the slick hill to the library just to check my email; I can just roll over, double click, and there it is. How decadent it all is... I'm going to be completely spoiled now.

(((Sigh)))... class tomorrow, and I need to go to the bank and get some groceries. I'm turning in. See y'all tomorrow.
9:45 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Saturday, March 26, 2005
Get Back To Work, You

The last hurrah of my spring break will be a two-day drive back to New England -- if I luck out and get decent weather, it should be quite enjoyable. I do love a good cross-country drive, so I'm looking forward to it. And once I get to Vermont, it's back to work for me; I've got plenty of work to fill the rest of the term. I acquired a new computer over the break and a few other items to make my cloister a bit more pleasant, so I'm ready to go.

It's been disorienting, though, all this back-and-forth. When I first arrived back at my old college, I had the strange sensation of thinking I was seeing people I knew the first time I was there, as well as imagining I saw people I knew from Memphis... they were all completely different people, obviously, but the reflex to recognize people seems to be a strong one. (It doesn't help that students at my college tend to closely resemble each other from generation to generation... fashions never change much in HippieLand.) Once I got back down here, I kept thinking I recognized current acquaintances from Vermont. God knows who I'll think I'm seeing when I get back to campus.

And it's strange how readily we fall back into our old lives. I've only been gone two months, of course, but my life in Vermont is very different from my life in Memphis; you'd think some of my habits would carry over here, but no -- I'm one person here, and another person there. It feels quite odd to think that I'm leaving tomorrow; fortunately, I didn't bring much, so packing should be a simple matter.

So there'll be another couple of quiet days here while I'm on the road. Not that that's any big change from how things have been, but I'm sure I'll be back to my regular-ish posting schedule soon. The break has done me good.
6:23 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Bill Hicks, Prophet

On pro-lifers:

You know what bugs me about them? If you're so pro-life, do me a favor -- don't lock arms and block medical clinics. If you're so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries. Let's see how committed you are to this idea.

I want to see pro-lifers with crowbars at funerals opening caskets -- "get out!" Then I'd be really impressed by their mission.

Oh Bill... if only they'd blocked the cemetery in Leakesville, Mississippi. You'd be laughing your ass off right now -- interspersed with bitter sobs, admittedly.

This is not a Schiavo post. I don't know anything about Terri Schiavo, I don't know anything about her condition, and I wouldn't presume to profess any worthwhile opinion. But I know a thing or two about fucking batshit fundamentalists, I know a thing or two about would-be fascists who parade under the label "conservative," and this whole fucked-up situation has gotten completely out of control. Blocking the cemetery, indeed -- preach, Brother Bill:

"Pro-lifers murdering people!"

A North Carolina man was charged by the FBI on Friday with offering a $250,000 bounty for the murder of Michael Schiavo, the husband of a brain-damaged Florida woman dying in a hospice after years of legal wrangling with her parents.

Richard Alan Meywes was arrested without incident at his home in Fairview, the FBI said. Tim Stutheit, an FBI spokesman in Charlotte, declined to give Meywes' age.
(source)

"It's irony on a base level, but I like it."

I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death. I further advocate the killing of anyone who interferes with such rescue.

Hal Turner

"It's a hoot... it's a fuckin' hoot."

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called ``a showdown.''

(source)

Jesus Christ, conservatives, look at yourselves... intruding into the deeply personal affairs of individuals, forcing your ideals down the throats of a free citizenry, interfering in the sanctity of a church-approved marriage, some of you advocating violence against the state, going around denouncing the rule of law? I won't even mention the related issues of tearing down personal liberties, civil privacy, and the willing acceptance of torture. I'm well aware that most self-professed conservatives aren't anywhere near as radical as the batshit loons begging Jesus to fill in Terri Shciavo's jellied brain, but y'all need to realize that you're losing control of your party. You need to slap some sense into these assholes and make 'em put their pants back on and behave like civilized people. And if you don't, forgive us for assuming you must all be as crazy as they are.

Note to crazy fucking fundies: you cannot defeat death. You can believe in resurrection and an eternal afterlife in the sky if you want, but physical death comes to us all. No matter what you do, this woman will eventually die. Not even George W. Bush can prevent it. The wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth is making you all look like the nutter on the corner screaming at traffic.

Fuck it, if God wants Terri Schiavo alive that badly, let him handle it. And if he doesn't, maybe he's trying to tell us something.

PS: The Bush administration claims to promote the "culture of life," but had they been given their way ten years earlier, Terri Schiavo would've died long before now. The medicare that helped pay for her care wouldn't have been available because of budget cuts; and the lawsuit that provided the court settlement that has financed her artifically-prolonged life wouldn't have been possible because of tort reform. And I'm not even going to mention the absence of guaranteed health care.

"Culture of Life," my ass.
12:56 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Wednesday, March 23, 2005
The Thing About LA

My vacation is gradually coming to a close -- in another couple of days I have to pack myself back up and take the drive north again; I'm spending Easter Sunday on the road. I know the blog's been pretty inactive, but the break's been good for me. Still, having spent the last two weeks very consciously avoiding discussion of that story (which is mostly over now), it's just about time to get back to business.

I have theories about Los Angeles. I've considered blogging about them before, but never seemed to have an excuse; my experiences there were negative enough that the subject was always a bit raw, which made it easy to put it aside. But it's been a little more than two years since my brief California odyssey ended, the rawness is past, and somebody recently expressed an interest -- and that's really all the excuse I need.

When I was growing up -- especially after I decided I was interested in filmmaking -- I toyed with a vow to never, ever set foot in LA. My rationale was based on the city's ubiquitous presence on television and in the movies; along with New York City, LA is an extremely common setting in popular entertainment. New York itself is a strange place -- visiting NYC for the first time is a bit like seeing a famous person on the street: you recognize it instantly, but in a strange, unfamiliar, detached way. LA, on the other hand, having no easily-recognizable cityscape, feels almost mythological, a golden city full of gorgeous, rich people doing things that nobody does in the real world. Somewhere along the line that notion developed into an irrational inner conviction in my mind that Los Angeles was, in fact, a storybook place with no actual earthly presence. (To clarify, yeah, I knew it was really there, but there was a part of my mind that was left unconvinced. For corroboration of this idea, see Black, Frank: Los Angeles.) So the idea of going to Los Angeles was a bit like the idea of going to Atlantis or Mount Olympus: great for the movies, but not something actual people actually do. And anyway, if you're in a mythical city -- well, what does that say about your own existence, eh?

Ironically, it's probably much easier to pursue a film career in the United States without setting foot in LA now than it's ever been before (though admittedly still tricky beyond a certain level), but there's so much work there and so much money, more than enough to go around to anybody who can make themselves useful. So I went.

I originally went out of confusion about what I was supposed to do next. I'd returned to Memphis immediately upon finishing up at film school, had spent some time there, and felt that there weren't many options in town. (I still feel that way.) I had a couple of close friends from film school who'd already made the transition -- one attending the AFI, the other attending another school to study CG effects and animation and that sort of thing. I had a third friend from London who had gone to a make-up effects school and had worked on a couple of our student films; he was a very charming, engaging guy, but there had been some tension at a few points in our collective association-- it doesn't bear going into much detail; pretty boring stuff. But he was eager to make the move to California, and it sounded like an ideal situation to me: a ready-made roomie, and two other people I adored and trusted there to meet us, give us temporary shelter, and show us around.

The trip out was fantastic, and the first few weeks in LA were great. I got my first studio gig (on a series of Denny's Restaurant commercials, still the most money I've ever made) within three weeks, and finished the job on the day before my 27th birthday. I was working with two documentary directors (one of them a recent Sundance winner), and while neither of them were paying me, they were both hooking me up with paying jobs to keep me alive while I worked on their films. I was meeting people, and found that getting connected wasn't nearly as difficult it's made to sound. Had I been able to sustain myself out there, I think it actually would've been quite easy to support myself (even by LA standards), and by now I'd probably be fairly prosperous and working my way up some ladder or other. The irony of my situation, as I see it hindsight, was that I'd moved out there in a desperate attempt to sell out, and the professional side of things worked out quickly and easily. It was my personal life -- the part about which I had complete confidence -- that went to hell.

I was sleeping on an inflatable mattress on the floor of my film school buddies' floor (the make-up guy was on the sofa), and was assured repeatedly that this was not a problem, even though our supposed-to-be-brief stay had become rather extended. I knew it wasn't realistic to think that they didn't mind a semi-long-term guest at least a little, and I was trying to get us out of there, but make-up guy proved to be rather reticent to take any work but film make-up work, which wasn't so easy to come by. He was also stalling to accomodate the arrival of another potential flatmate, some guy from Iceland, while I got more and more stressed-out. I was out looking for apartments every day (the rental market in Los Angeles is fucking fierce), first for three people, then for two, and eventually just for myself alone. Alas, it was not to be -- my last-ditch prospect fell through after I arrived at the open house 45 seconds after a pair of would-be Coen brother-types from Maine, and I was left with a choice: start living in my car, or go home.

So I headed home full of intentions to save up another couple of grand and try again, ashamed of my failure to get a foothold (and bemused that the failure had been related to the aspect of my life I was most confident about), and sick and exhausted from stress. (I've honestly never been that strung-out from stress before in my life -- I was constantly nauseous, over-emotional, and my whole head hurt from grinding my teeth all night long.) I was chagrined when I returned to discover that Memphis had utterly no work to offer me; saving money was all but impossible. Then one of my film school friends decided she'd been angry all along after all, demanded retroactive rent and bill payments (which I paid in full, plus some, in an effort to salvage the friendship, alas all in vain), and the make-up guy ultimately (though charmingly) refused to let me encamp at his new apartment because his new flatmate wouldn't like it. I was pretty bummed; I dragged myself through much of the following year and gave up on Los Angeles.

I did enjoy the city while I was there. It's so dynamic, so overwhemingly full of different kinds of people, folks coming from all over the world to try their luck at various grand schemes; the average transplanted Angeleno has huge balls to try whatever it is they're working to accomplish. I lived in a patch of land situated squarely between the hipster paradise of the moment, one of the largest Orthodox Jewish districts in the city, and Little Ethiopia; we were adjacent to the tar pits, on land once lorded over by wooly mammoths. And unlike London, in LA there was light and warmth and greenness everywhere. There was a church not far away that, I swear to god, appeared to have a stained glass window of an ant carrying a giant egg sac over the front door (those crazy Episcopalians.) Ron Perlman interrupted me at the bank while I was trying to open a checking account. The ocean was right fucking there, and it was unspeakably, amazingly beautiful. (I admit that sometimes I drive along the delta bluff here in Mississippi and try to remember what it was like to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, imagining that the ocean lies beyond the drop-off instead of cotton fields.) Going up to the Griffith Observatory on a clear, cool night ranks among the happiest experiences of my life. The freeways weren't nearly as bad as I'd been led to believe, at least as long as you stay off 'em during rush hour. And the access to goods was phenomenal -- Book Soup, Amoeba Music -- and the video stores, sweet Jesus, the most amazing video stores. I'm telling you, within a couple of months I was talking about saving up to make a down payment a house and staying forever.

But Los Angeles, as I've said before in conversation with close friends, is a bitch goddess. She offers you everything you've ever wanted, there for the taking, and asks in return only that you give her everything you have. When you come with nothing -- as I did -- it looks like a good deal; then you start losing things (much-loved friends, your artistic standards, good respiratory function) that you'd kinda forgotten you possessed. Had I not been forced back, I'd have stayed anyway... who knows what the cost would've finally tallied up to.

But it's still an interesting place, metaphysically speaking. A city of 14 million people that really shouldn't be there at all, forceably wrenched from the desert and founded on an industry that's essentially all about making things that don't exist look appear to exist. Let me emphasize that point -- the primary economic goal of the people of Los Angeles is to sell images of people and places and events that have never existed in the real world. Their main industry -- and it's a huge one -- is creating illusion.

That's pretty weird when you think about.

And appropriately, the city itself is as fragile as an illusion -- one good shake and LA's done for. The people are made of plastic (have you ever seen one of those Beverly Hills girls up close? From lips to tits to artificial toenails, there's hardly a thing on 'em that wasn't bought after-market and attached by a surgeon.) Relationships are defined by falsehood. A religion founded by a science fiction author is one of the most powerful social forces in the city. The whole place is built on, by, and for artifice; Los Angeles is a postmodern abomination.

"Sour grapes?" you ask. Maybe. That's possible. I'd be more likely to buy it if I'd failed professionally -- couldn't hack it in Hollywood, eh? -- but if my sojourn in the valley of the plastic people demonstrated one thing, it's that, actually, I could hack it there just fine. I don't know what would have been left of me after a whole career of it, but still, the in was secured and my foot was on the ladder. Instead, interpersonal miscalculations sent me home to Memphis on a Greyhound bus to start over as a would-be DV revolutionary, broke but rich in artistic integrity. "You could do it," life seemed to say to me, "but you won't."
10:58 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Saturday, March 19, 2005
Unhappy Anniversary

And so, we enter the third year of the second war in Iraq.

Coalition fatalities: 1,696*

US armed forces fatalities: 1,520*

Total US armed forces casualties: 11,220*

Estimated number of Iraqi civilian fatalities: at least 17,000**

Iraqi civilian fatalities adjusted to US population: 170,000

Number of terrorist attacks equivalent to those at the World Trade Center and Pentagon required to create 170,000 fatalities: 57

Average number of Coalition deaths per day: 2.32 (up 80% from last year)

Average number of Iraqi deaths per day: 23.26

Cost of Iraq war so far: $157 billion and counting***

Amount of that money that has gone "missing": $9 billion****

Weapons of Mass Destruction found: 0

Compelling reasons for going to war given: 0

*source 1
(Note that the method for counting US casualties in Iraq has changed since last year, reducing the total number of casualties reported compared to the old method.)
**source 2
*** source 3
**** source 4

Last year's unhappy anniversary is here.
12:00 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Friday, March 18, 2005
God Hates Bar Owners

Everybody knows the line of reasoning that suggests that those who display the most overt rejection of homosexuality may do so because of latent (or not-so-latent) gay tendencies that they reject in themselves. But you rarely get such an obvious display of it as we're getting in the case of the San Diego Bishop who refused to permit a Catholic burial for a gay man. The objection, apparently, was not because he was gay, but because he owned two gay bars. How exactly that changes the situation is unclear -- and by all accounts these bars were fairly demure social gathering places, not leather bars or bath houses. But the refusal was made, much to the distress of the deceased man's family and friends.

But, holy hypocrisy, Batman! It turns out that this same Bishop settled out of court with a young man a few years ago in a case in which the Bishop was accused of attempting to coerce the former seminarian to have sex with him and other high-ranking clergymen. He also treated the case of a priest who allegedly bound and raped a 14-year-old girl (after her grandfather's funeral, no less) with rather curious leniency.

Now, let's compare these cases... a gay man who was apparently an upstanding and responsible citizen, but who owned two fairly docile gay-oriented bars, is refused a Catholic funeral; but a priest who rapes an underage girl is allowed to go on a trip to the Philippines on vacation and a bishop who looks fairly guilty of severe sexual harrassment (of a man, no less) gets to, well, be a bishop.

Uh-huh, sure, okay. Presumably if the dead bar owner had just forced himself on a few more unwilling, helpless partners, everything would be cool, but owning a couple of bars is just going too far.

(Story via the excellent AmericaBlog, where you can find more information.)
8:02 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Try This At Home

During my trip down from Vermont last weekend, a funny thing happened. I was in Virginia having spent the night, and I was going into a local diner to get some breakfast before I got back on the road -- breakfast is cheap, and since I don't do the fast food thing, stopping somewhere for pancakes is usually my best bet for a hot meal during a traveling day.

By chance of timing -- actually mostly because I paused to hold the door open for them -- two black men came in directly behind me. We approached the hostess' station as three people, and that's when the girl behind the counter sneered at me.

"Table for three?" I cannot express the disdain that was dripping from her voice.

"Uh, no, just one."

"Oh." She smiled, and led me to a booth.

And that was it. She went back and seated the two black men a few tables away, and I got on with my breakfast. And I didn't think much about the exchange during my meal (I was too absorbed in a newspaper), but once I was out on the interstate in that meditative state that accompanies long-distance driving, it started to bug me.

I've been there before. Here in Memphis I have a number of African-American friends, all fine people; of them, the two I feel closest to are both gay men (well, one's gay; the other is officially undetermined, but seems currently to be most interested in other boys.) Suffice to say, in these particular situations, our relationship is buddy-buddy, not romantic. And sometimes we go out together... out for a drink, out for a quick dinner, the usual out-with-friends kind of thing. And whenever I'm out with a black man, this same thing happens: I'm treated differently for being a white woman in the company of a black man.

American race relations, especially in the south, are obviously a complicated matter, and I certainly don't claim to have especially deep insight. I'm a white woman of middle-class bearing who lives mostly around other white people; for me, the world is generally a respectful place. Both black men and black women obviously live in a completely different world where getting pulled over seemingly at random is a common occurance, being followed in stores is just part of how things are, and having certain kinds of people make snap assumptions about you and your life based on your race is, doubtless, taken for granted. For me, though, it's an unusual sensation.

Because the thing is, if black men are on the bottom rungs of society, the only people lower (in the eyes of conservative white Christendom) are white women who consort with them. And when I go out with a black male friend, or even find myself in proximity to black men without an obvious white partner of my own, that label gets stuck to me regardless of reality. I assure you, people treat me much differently if they think I'm connected to a black man than they do normally.

It doesn't make me angry -- this is an insight into society I'm granted, even if an uncomfortable one, and something that most of the population of this city has to live and deal with on a constant, ongoing basis -- but it makes me very sad. Who we are as individuals makes no difference in this situation -- that I'm smart, that I'm educated, that I'm polite or respectful, or that the men I'm out with are good, caring, honest, active citizens working hard to make a life for themselves. For this period of time, they're niggers screwing a white girl, and I'm a white trash slut, nothing more.

I can't imagine living with that kind of judgement being made of me by strangers who know nothing about my life and circumstances every moment of every day for my entire life. It could easily become, I think, a crushing psychic weight.

I dare every white woman reading this -- if you haven't already found yourself in this situation (in which case you already know what I'm talking about) -- to go out to lunch or dinner with a black male friend and observe the reaction for yourself, especially if you're someone who has pre-formed ideas about interracial relationships yourself. Expose yourself to that which you impose on others -- it's a simple experiment, and very enlightening. (And if you don't have any black male friends, make some, then try this out. It's doubly important for you.)
11:21 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Another Thing To Piss You Off

Yeah, I know, I haven't posted in days. But c'mon, I'm on vacation here -- a vacation from being pissed off at the world, if nothing else.

But if you wanna see something that makes you angry, you could do a lot worse than this:

Iraq's Child Prisoners

It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. "The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets," he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. "Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier’s name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform." Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped "the little kid".

(...)

Proof of the widespread arrest and detention of children in Iraq by US and UK forces is contained in an internal Unicef report written in June. The report has – surprisingly – not been made public. A key section on child protection, headed "Children in Conflict with the Law or with Coalition Forces", reads: "In July and August 2003, several meetings were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) ... and Ministry of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice and the situation of children detained by the coalition forces ... Unicef is working through a variety of channels to try and learn more about conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to ensure that their rights are respected."

(...)

An Iraqi TV reporter Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz saw the Abu Ghraib children’s wing when he was arrested by Americans while making a documentary. He spent 74 days in Abu Ghraib.

"I saw a camp for children there," he said. "Boys, under the age of puberty. There were certainly hundreds of children in this camp." Al-Baz said he heard a 12-year-old girl crying. Her brother was also held in the jail. One night guards came into her cell. “She was beaten,” said al-Baz. "I heard her call out, 'They have undressed me. They have poured water over me.'"

He says he heard her cries and whimpering daily – this, in turn, caused other prisoners to cry as they listened to her. Al-Baz also told of an ill 15-year-old boy who was soaked repeatedly with hoses until he collapsed. Guards then brought in the child’s father with a hood over his head. The boy collapsed again.

(...)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was "extremely disturbed" that the coalition was holding children for long periods in jails notorious for torture. HRW also criticised the policy of categorising children as "security detainees", saying this did not give carte blanche for them to be held indefinitely. HRW said if there was evidence the children had committed crimes then they should be tried in Iraqi courts, otherwise they should be returned to their families.

Unicef is "profoundly disturbed" by reports of children being abused in coalition jails. Alexandra Yuster, Unicef’s senior adviser on child detention, said that under international law children should be detained only as a last resort and only then for the shortest possible time.

(Sunday Herald)

I have no doubt that we're holding juveniles in Iraq, but I hope to god they're not being tortured or sexually abused. But given that we've only just recently decided that we shouldn't execute our own minors, what faith can we have that this isn't a real possibility? Where exactly is the moral line for the Bush administration these days?
5:23 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Sunday, March 13, 2005
Driving To Springtime

Goddamn that was a long drive. Vermont to Memphis by way of Roanoke, VA (well, more accurately Troutville, VA; same diff.) The trip began inauspiciously in a snowstorm, navigating a treacherous stretch of Route 9 (still generally considered to be the most dangerous bit of highway in America due to its hilliness, curviness, and tendency towards slick icy snowiness.) Not but ten miles from the Vermont-New York border, we were held up by very, very serious accident on the road that took an hour to clear. Four ambulances passed us heading back towards Bennington while we waited; after we were waved onward, I wondered if I'd be able to tell where the accident had happened. A rather alarming quantity of blood splattered across the snow a mile or two further on was evidence enough for me.

The snow ended somewhere in Pennsylvania; just before crossing into Virginia I encountered a confusing mix of rain, wet snow, and determined sunshine. (Local girl Ashley says that when the sun shines while it's raining, it means that the devil is beating his wife. I guess, then, that if the sun shines while it's raining and snowing, the devil is beating his wife and... what? His kids? His mother?

Anyway, driving south was like driving across the dividing line between the seasons. By the time I got to my motel, the going was completely easy, not a flake to be seen. The going today was full speed ahead; I crossed Tennessee like the proverbial bat out of hell, getting from Knoxville to Memphis is barely more than six hours.

So I'm back for a bit now... Memphis buds, come and find me.

PS: When exes blog! The guy subbing in for buddy Shaw over here was once an S.O. of Sister Novena's in another time and dimension, back in the long-ago, back before I became who I am (whatever that entails.) Not that that means anything, really, but I didn't want to come across as studiously ignoring. These personal-political things can be tricky shit. And maybe you're curious. Or not. Whatever.
6:04 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Friday, March 11, 2005
One Last Thing Before I Go

Happy birthday to my buddy Mat. I regret that I can't be there for whatever drunken orgy you're planning in celebration, but come find me while I'm in Memphis and I'll buy you a birthday beer or two.

Also, happy birthday to another once-buddy who still owes me like $600. Yeah, you with the Vespa, you know who you are. Pay up, damn you.
11:50 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Thursday, March 10, 2005
Nipples Like Organ Pegs

I'll be away from the blog for a few days -- yep, it's spring break, and I'm heading back down to Memphis to shake off some of this winter chill. I'll be posting while I'm there, but it might be light... I've got a lot of people I want to see, a lot of stuff I want to do, and a lot of film-related books I want to ignore. It'll be a busy couple of weeks.

Speaking of film-related books to ignore, my old arch-nemesis* and former film school instructor Barry Salt has surfaced in my life once again, this time in the form of his rather oblique book of film theory. What do you get when a gay Australian one-time would-be ballet dancer and hard, rationalist science and philosophy student decides to write about film? If you guessed "nearly unreadable contrarian film theory that focuses exclusively on why everyone else in the history of film theory is wrong for the first four chapters," you're right! Not that Baz doesn't have some good points -- he does, and for all I know his approach will prove to be exactly correct, although I think the section where he goes off on a long tangent about why the French educational system sucks might be the kind of thing that could be, y'know, weeded out of the text. But having mostly forgotten those excrutiating three-hour lectures where his Aussie-accented monotone expounded at length about the failure of modern film to develop until the advent of a flexible transparent medium that could withstand the rigors of projection (which is admittedly true) and similar obscure issues in the history of film technology, reading this book is bring it all back to me. It's like I'm back in Cinema A all over again.

My own most vivid memory of Barry is having him sit and explain to me after a screening of rushes during my fourth term that I didn't intend to create a lighting effect that I did very consciously intend to create. Whether it was a good idea, or whether I did a good job of it, were both points that were open to discussion, but his insistence that I didn't mean to do it when I had discussed it at length with the director (who liked how it turned out, as it happens) and had requested special filters to create the effect was vaguely annoying. Not that I didn't learn a lot from him, just that sometimes he thinks he knows more than he actually knows. Just like most former philosophy students.

I won't mention the other thing I pointedly (ahem) remember about Barry Salt... it would be a bit rude, and Barry doesn't deserve that.

PS: Yes, I got my paper done, I had it turned in by noon today. So you see, I'm still an academic goody-goody at my core. Some traits never vanish entirely.

*not really
5:17 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



The Biggest Ego On Earth

Oh, give me a break...

Actor Russell Crowe has revealed he was told he was being targeted by suspected al-Qaeda terrorists who wanted to kidnap him ahead of the 2001 Oscars.

(...)

He was told it was about "taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as sort of a cultural destabilisation plot", he said.

(...)

"Suddenly it looks like I think I'm Elvis Presley, because everywhere I go there are all these FBI guys," he told the magazine.

(BBC)

First of all, Russ m'boy, you're not an "iconographic American," in that you are neither "iconographic" nor "American." Your not being American is nothing againt you, mind, it's just a simple statement of fact.

Secondly, how up yourself do you have to be to believe that your loss would somehow "destabilize" the culture? Is the intended result that Americans go on a riot, looting and pillaging our own cities because Russell Crowe didn't show up to accept his Oscar?

And finally... dude, it's not the security guards that make you look like a flaming egomaniac, it's the fact that you actually think you're important enough to be pivotal in a terrorist plot.

Jeez, talk about confusing real life with the movies... next he'll be wanting to be president.

PS: even if Russell Crowe was kidnapped by al Qaeda, we'd have nothing to worry about... Russ knows a thing or two about bitch-slapping an uppity foreigner.

8:55 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Academic Pain

Why is it that I can be so friggin' articulate when I'm thinking aloud in my room, only to find myself rendered wordless and intellectually impotent when I sit down to write? I'm sitting here with a "paper" "due" tomorrow... all in quotes because it's not so much a paper as "any available writing," and it's not so much due as "my professor would like to see it." Not that she hasn't seen any -- she has -- and not that I haven't been writing -- I have. It's just that I'm at an awkward stage in my termly work where the only ideas I have are half-formed ones, and that doesn't make for a very satisfactory writing sample.

For instance, I've got three papers in the works right now -- one on Maya Deren, one on the connection between technology and independent film, and one on Dogme 95 -- but as of today none of them are farther along than paper-larvae, waiting to be filled out with documentable facts and subsequent nuanced insight. Papers that will later be 20- or 30-page monsters are currently just three-page collections of loosely-assembled notes. (Don't give me a hard time, I've been at the mercy of the interlibrary loan system.)

But still, by tomorrow evening I gotta turn out at least five pages of something roughly coherent. So what should I do? Go home, crack the books, and scramble for insight? Or stay here and stare at this computer screen until my eyes bleed or I reach five pages, whichever comes first? Jesus, it's only five pages... I should be able to do that without breaking a sweat. Why can't academic papers accomodate hyperlinks?

Leave your brilliant advice in comments.
4:16 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



On The Other Hand...

Of course, the thing about heralding the approach of spring -- in as much as it's something akin to naming the nature of the magic, which of course destroys the spell -- is that the minute you do it, nature shoots you a big ol' bird to shut you up.

The slurp from yesterday turned into snow... rather a lot of snow, in fact. And wind. And it got fucking cold. And not just, "boy, Chauncy, it's a bit nippy out tonight, eh?" cold, but "you better get your ass inside before you lose your fingers" cold. I was told that it was a classic Alberta howler, though why it should be named after a province clear on the other side of the continent remains a mystery. Maybe they were just messing with me; I admit I am sometimes gullible.

But, then again, I also noticed that in the calm before the howler, somebody had begun tapping the campus sugar maples. With luck, by the time I get back from the break, the snow should have turned to rain and some of these berms and drifts should have melted off. I would gladly take rain and mud instead of ice and snow at this point.

In other news, can I just say that the passage of this fucked-up, exploitative bankruptcy law sucks ass? Fuck you, poor person/sick person/old person, it doesn't matter how hard you work or how many responsibilities you live up to, the Republican party needs to keep its burgeoning serf class in line, and keeping you eternally in debt is the easiest way to do it. Get a fourth job and stop whining; you're lucky we don't charge you for the air you breathe. We're working on that, though... if we drive these SUVs long enough, non-poisonous air might become a marketable commodity in time for your grandkids to come up on the auction block. God bless America, you fucking peons!

PS to Peons: And you'll get your minimum wage increase over our dead bodies. We love it when a single mother of two has to work sixty hours per week just to hit the poverty line! And she'd better not be hoping for any overtime pay or healthcare. Hard-working people living in eternal debt and poverty... that's the Republican-American way, suckers!
2:45 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Fascism in Bush's America

A short animation -- needs some bandwidth, but not so much. This is Mike Malloy talking about the by-now-well-known (among sane Americans) 14 characterstics of fascism and relating them to the Bush administration.
11:33 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Schpring

It's a truly revolting day here in southern Vermont. The stuff that's falling out of the sky is, technically speaking, snow, but only barely. No need to collectively make a mud slurpee today; this stuff is falling from the heavens already-slurped. The standing water is thick and slimy -- I dunno if you've ever seen water that's hovering right at the freezing point, not yet quite ready to crystallize entirely but also not 100% liquid, but it's strange stuff. Puddles in this state don't splash, the make more of a "blurping" motion. I think you know what I mean.

But this is all still good news; it's further evidence that the season is slowly -- painfully slowly -- creeping towards spring. We had our first preview yesterday; the sun was out, and it was warm enough (if you've been walking around in 0°F for the last two months, anyway, it's a relative thing) to go out without a sweater or jacket or anything. The first contact of sunlight on skin is a blissful occasion that can't be readily comprehended unless you've spent an oppressive amount of time shielding every possible inch of bare flesh from the wet and cold. It's a giddy kind of joy that makes you want to find an empty field and run around in circles screaming your fool head off; it makes you want to grab the nearest attractive person of the opposite or otherwise-preferred sex, drag 'em off into the woods, and... well, yes.

Anyhoo, the point is, while we still have some snow and muck and cold to get through (snow season is coming to an end, but ice season is fast approaching, followed directly by mud season), the end is in sight.

Dave has said that he thinks the arc of the southern hemisphere year -- with New Year's coming in midsummer -- makes more sense. I can't find a quote on his blog, but to paraphrase, he prefers the idea that the year begins in light, sinking down into cold and darkness in the middle to emerge again at the end. (I'm sure he'll confirm or correct that whenever he comes by again.) And I do understand what he means; it's an intriguing subversion of ancient assumptions, and has some value in that it provides an alternate context coming from a place where the arbitrarily-dominant traditions have less relevance. But I think I still disagree. The fact that the year begins and ends in winter has too much resonance with other ideas of timekeeping. Every day, for example, begins and ends in the darkness of the night; the lunar cycle begins and ends with the dark new moon; and both conventions feel closely related to a human lifespan which also, in a manner of speaking, begins and ends in darkness, arcing out into the corporeal world inbetween. If that's the underlying archetype, then the idea that the day/month/year begins at the darkest point makes perfect sense.

And there's a nest of birds above my bedroom window that make the strangest sounds I've ever heard come from a bird. Sometimes they just twitter, but now and then -- usually in the evenings -- the break into something that sounds like a cross between a seagull and a hawk. I haven't gotten a look at them yet... anybody have any ideas?
10:01 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Sunday, March 06, 2005
General Update

One of the big differences between this little community and, say, Memphis -- from my perspective, at least -- is that there seems to be a much greater tolerance, even enthusiasm for real diversity here. It often seems in the south -- particularly in the rural south -- that there's only one genuinely "right" way to be, with a few acceptable variations; anything else makes you something of a target for disdain, if not overt rejection.

That's less the case here, I think. I'll give you an example: here on campus, we have a girl with a goatee. Now, I'm not talking about a butch girl in casual drag, or a FTM transsexual -- although either of those cases would be welcomed in much the same way; I'm just talking about your garden-variety bearded lady. She's got a nice little tuft of wiry, curly black hairs sprouting from her chin and fading up the sides of her cheeks, turning back into something like sideburns along her ears. She's not competing with Grizzly Adams or anything, but many a fourteen-year-old boy would be proud of facial hair like hers.

In many places, this feature would be cause for shame and ridicule; she would doubtless go to great lengths to remove it, conceal it, or eradicate it entirely, and she could probably manage to do so with some money and effort. But here, she can leave it alone, and be accepted by the local community as she is, goatee and all. And I think that's pretty fucking cool.

The general absence of television (and all the envy it produces), the increased exposure to other kinds of people and the decreased emphasis on mass culture means that there's less pressure here to conform to any particular ideal. And I really enjoy living in a community where lesbian couples push strollers down the main street alongside orthodox jewish families, hippies from the communal organic farms in the surrounding mountains interact with Boston skiers in the shops, and the seeming multitudes of foreign students intern at local schools. Hell, we even have a few Bush voters (although we do tend to keep an eye on them.)

Wouldn't this be a great world if boys wearing makeup -- or girls with goatees -- could walk down the streets of Horn Lake, Mississippi as comfortably as they do here? If people could just be whoever they are without getting hassled for it? If we could just accept each other, whatever that means, and stop wasting our lives worrying about matching somebody else's ideal? Wouldn't that be blissfully wonderful?

Well, I think it would. But that's just me.

Anyway, in a sudden burst of inspiration and activity, I've found myself with a completed first draft of a short screenplay. It's based on a short story -- I'll have to figure out how to work around that if I decide to produce it -- but it might even be ideal for my current cinematic purposes. I selected this story to work with at random, and I was initially chagrined to discover that the entire story took place in a dream. I have a particular pet peeve in film -- I really, really dislike dream sequences; I think they're generally ineffectually-done and most often vapid and pretentious. So what better challenge could I present myself than to write (and possibly make) a film that takes place entirely in a dream state, if only to see if I can do any better? It also dovetails nicely with my recent academic forays into experimental and abstract film; there are a few techniques I'd quite like to play with, and this might be an ideal vehicle. It may ultimately end up being something of a case of copying the works of the masters, but it's just a short... aside from the obvious narrative factor, it's a very simple little story, with only two central characters (or depending on your perspective, perhaps only one), one main location, and not much else. I have a few months to play with it; we'll see what happens.

This time next week I should be on my way back to Memphis for a ten-day spring break; I wouldn't have imagined that I'd be looking forward to going to Memphis this much. If you're one of my Memphis circle of friends, you can expect to be dragged out at least once during my visit, so keep an eye on your voicemail and inbox.
2:36 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Saturday, March 05, 2005
Film Humor

Heh.

WHO'S ON FIRST?
BY CHRIS GAVALER

- - - -

(A CUSTOMER steps up to a video-store counter with a stack of videos.)

CASHIER: Hi. Did you find everything you wanted?

CUSTOMER: (Handing over membership card.) Yes, thanks. (Pause.) When is this one due back?

CASHIER: The day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: Yeah, when's it due back?

CASHIER: The day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: Yes. The Day After Tomorrow.

CASHIER: Right.

CUSTOMER: Right. When's it due back?

CASHIER: The day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: I mean the movie. The Day After Tomorrow. When is it due?

CASHIER: Oh! I get it. That's funny. You thought I meant—right, OK. It's due the day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: The Day After Tomorrow is due the day after tomorrow?

CASHIER: Exactly.

CUSTOMER: And Before Sunset?

CASHIER: Anytime before 10.

CUSTOMER: Is it the same as The Day After Tomorrow?

CASHIER: We close the same time every day. Ten o'clock.

CUSTOMER: But what day is the video due?

CASHIER: The Day After Tomorrow?

CUSTOMER: Why are you asking me?

CASHIER: The Day After Tomorrow is due the day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: I know, but what about Before Sunset?

CASHIER: Anytime before closing.

CUSTOMER: But what day?

CASHIER: The day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: Before Sunset?

CASHIER: You can bring it then if you want to, but we're open till 10.

CUSTOMER: The movie! Before Sunset. When is Before Sunset due?

CASHIER: Oh! We did it again, didn't we? Isn't that just like that ... what's that sketch called? Anyway. Sorry. Before Sunset is due the day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: Thank you. (Pause.) Is that the same for the others?

CASHIER: You're not renting The Others.

CUSTOMER: Why not?

CASHIER: I don't know. You can if you want to.

CUSTOMER: Well, I would like to rent the others, please.

CASHIER: I'll check the computer.

CUSTOMER: For what?

CASHIER: The Others.

CUSTOMER: What's in front of you?

CASHIER: (Looking through stack.) Well, we have The Day After Tomorrow and Before Sunset. Then Seven, After Hours, 48 Hours, Ten, and Before Sunrise. Hey, that's funny, "before sunrise"—we could have gotten confused about that too, huh?

CUSTOMER: Yeah. Could you ring them up, please?

CASHIER: So you don't want The Others?

CUSTOMER: I want all of them.

CASHIER: But not The Others?

CUSTOMER: I want everything sitting right there in front of you.

CASHIER: OK, I'll ring them up. (Pause.) I'm sorry, but your account limits you to six rentals.

CUSTOMER: Oh, OK, I won't rent Ten.

CASHIER: Excuse me?

CUSTOMER: Get rid of Ten.

CASHIER: You have seven here.

CUSTOMER: I still want to rent Seven.

CASHIER: You're not allowed to.

CUSTOMER: Why can't I rent Seven?

CASHIER: Because it's over the limit.

CUSTOMER: Right, but I want Seven. Get rid of Ten.

CASHIER: (Pause.) That would leave negative three.

CUSTOMER: Excuse me?

CASHIER: You know what? We'll just let it slide this time.

CUSTOMER: Thank you. (Pause.) Is that one due back the day after tomorrow, too?

CASHIER: Yes, you have 48 hours.

CUSTOMER: But is it due with the others?

CASHIER: You don't have The Others.

CUSTOMER: What did you just ring up?

CASHIER: You want me to read these to you again?

CUSTOMER: No, just tell me when they're due.

CASHIER: The day after tomorrow.

CUSTOMER: But what about the others?

CASHIER: You don't have The Others.

CUSTOMER: Is 48 Hours due the day after tomorrow?

CASHIER: Yes, by 10 o'clock.

CUSTOMER: Is Ten due the day after tomorrow?

CASHIER: Yes, by 10 o'clock.

CUSTOMER: What about After Hours?

CASHIER: There's a late fee.

CUSTOMER: For what?

CASHIER: If you return after hours.

CUSTOMER: The day after tomorrow?

CASHIER: All of them.

CUSTOMER: So it's due the day after tomorrow?

CASHIER: By 10.

CUSTOMER: What about Seven?

CASHIER: You can bring it then if you want to, but we're open till 10.

CUSTOMER: The movie! The movie! When is the movie Seven due?

CASHIER: (Holding up each video one at a time.) Seven is due at 10 the day after tomorrow. The Day After Tomorrow is due at 10 the day after tomorrow. Before Sunset is due at 10 the day after tomorrow. 48 Hours is due at 10 the day after tomorrow. After Hours is due at 10 the day after tomorrow. And Ten is due at 10 the day after tomorrow

CUSTOMER: Thank you! (Noticing the last video after a long pause.) But what about Before Sunrise?

CASHIER: (Pause.) We're not open before sunrise.

(CUSTOMER gives up and walks out.)

(Lifted shamelessly from the brilliant McSweeney's)
12:52 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Friday, March 04, 2005
God Hates Female Orgasms

Which is why he gave every woman a clitoris, which is, of course, the only known organ of any species whose sole function is to produce pleasure.

Make sense? No? Well, you're obviously not a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-sex right-wing Christian southerner. Because if you were, you'd completely support the Alabama state law that forbids the sale of sex toys (and similar laws in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennesee.)

No dildos shaped like dolphins for you, Alabama, no pink vibrators with little bunnies clinging to them, no cockrings or ballweights, no strap-on harnesses or nipple clamps, and definitely, definitely no buttplugs shaped like Baby Jesus. Heaven forefend! You have your lawfully-wedded husband's penis at your disposal (you might want to use AbsorbShun to make him feel "bigger"), but anything else is dirty. So stop it!

Oh, it is fun to laugh. It is fun to mock and point and say, aww, how cute, those lost and weird and backass Southern states where most people are just trying to live noble upstanding honest lives but where they still insist on putting stickers on biology textbooks to warn of the "dangers" of the theory of evolution.

Places where raw honest sexuality is a foreign language and homosexuality is considered a disease and where they lovingly allow sales of Viagra and Cialis and where they inject vats of Prozac and Xanax into their bodies alongside truckloads of deep-fried obesity-happy everything, but the thought of someone using a sex toy to please herself or her lover and to add to the overall positive orgasmic vibe of the planet is considered on par, legally speaking, with pedophilia, or burglary, or being from France.

(...)

But then again, we are still in a world where brutal, undeclared war is considered noble and the human female nipple is considered traumatizing to children, and the pope, mustering one of his last wheezing, homophobic breaths, declares gay marriage to be part of the "ideology of evil," and millions believe him, especially the BushCo Right, especially those evangelicals who, for some sad reason, now hold the reins.

So then. They're not just dildos, baby. They're a flag of righteousness. They're an emblem of all that is right and good and delicious and that must be defended to the death. Dildos are, in short, a beacon of hope. Wave yours high, won't you? And then point it in the general direction of Alabama, and laugh.

(SF Gate)

Quite.
5:13 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Zappa In The Crossfire

This clip has been making the rounds, but it really is worth watching (though it's pretty long and wants some bandwidth.) It's from a 1986 edition of Crossfire in which "conservative" Frank Zappa flatly denounces censorship, makes a sane case against the irrational fear of words, and proclaims that America is heading down the road of "fascist theocracy." Check out the smarmy winger wanker to his left... one of these two men was a genius, and the other is a partisan hack. Ten points to the first person to correctly identify which is which.

But wait, there's more: Zappa appeared on Crossfire again in 1987, this time confronting a "consultant" from the PMRC. How strange to remember the days when George Michael and heavy metal were considered even remotely threatening; note the attempts to blame anti-rock hysteria on AIDS.
11:45 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Step Right Up

I think I'm in trouble.

I'm not much of one for watching whatever "trial of the century" is currently airing -- I remember OJ but never paid much attention; I was indifferent to Gary Condit; I didn't give a toss about Kobe, nor a rat's ass about Scott Peterson; Robert Blake bored me to tears, and I couldn't care less about Phil Spector.

But I don't know if I'm strong enough to resist the temptation of a Michael Jackson trial. It's a convergence of lurid details and twisted nostalgia that I can't turn away from; my opinion is already formed, and that feeling of insight is what pulls you in.

It's all rooted in my childhood fandom of Michael -- "Thriller" hit when I was seven or eight, an age when I was most susceptible to its charms. I had a poster of Michael in a yellow sweater vest and diamond brooch on my wall; I made my parents take me to the Victory Tour in Houston for my 8th birthday; his music, along with Cyndi Lauper, was the first I ever owned and listened to. I remember a contest on Nickelodeon -- circa 1983 or so -- in which the prizes were all Michael-related: his hat from Billie Jean, his sequined glove, a jacket like the one from Thriller, and the most enticing prize of all: a trip to Neverland Ranch and a weekend with Michael. It's all pretty creepy when you look back on it now.

And discovering that the person you admired so when you were a child is most likely a kiddie-diddler -- well, there's something so late-20s angsty about the revelation, it all fits into the late Gen-X zeitgeist perfectly. Of course all our childhood heroes will turn out to be pedophiles, how else could it possibly end?

Yes, I think he did it. I have no right to judge, of course, but my gut insists that the guy is profoundly guilty. A few years ago I was involved in he production of a documentary on the priest child abuse scandal, and had to do a great deal of background research. I learned more about the psychology behind the sexual abuse of children than I ever wanted to know, but there is a defined psychology behind it, and Michael fits the pattern too perfectly. His whole life is designed to be appealing to children -- he even seems to perceive himself to be a child -- and that's the big red flag. It's totally fine for adults to like kids and enjoy making them happy, but it's not fine for them to identify with them that closely. And for fuck's sake, Michael, you don't sleep with strangers' children. Ever. Jesus.

I couldn't say about the current accuser -- they're made to sound pretty dodgy, and maybe they are. But Jackson's defense of himself also sounds too shrill, too affected. And as far as Jackson being pissed off that Martin Bashir for making a displeasing documentary about him -- that's just tough shit. Nobody made you sit there and hold a little boy's hand while you said that sharing a bed with kids was "beautiful" in front of a rolling camera... Martin Bashir didn't need to "make" Jackson look like a freak; he does quite a good job of that on his own.

Throw in the freakishness of his daily life and the way he fucked up his face, and you might as well park me in front of a carnival sideshow. Do I feel good about looking? No. But I still will, and we both know it.
9:45 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|



Blogoversary

One whole year, my tender lumplings. Since then we've had 336 posts, just under 20,000 hits, and hundreds of happy customers.

I swear to god I thought I'd be bored stupid with this within a month.
9:38 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
|