Milestone Film & Video: “This April, we say NO to wars past & present”

War Is Not Healthy

War Is Not Healthy

The online article accompanying Stu Levitan’s 2020 interview with author and filmmaker Gregg Mitchell describes his fascinating book about the making — and unmaking — of a postwar anti-nuclear Hollywood feature film:

War Is Not Healthy“The Beginning or the End was a B movie about the A bomb, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in February, 1947. It promised to disclose what it called ‘the biggest, best-kept secret in the history of the world – the men, the magic, the machines behind the world’s strongest force – the atom bomb.’ The movie was, the studio declared in all caps with exclamation points ‘FACTUAL! AUTHENTIC!’

Well, not quite. Because a movie set in motion by scientists wanting the world to know the truth was taken over by the military and the White House needing the world to believe a lie. How that happened is the business that occupies Greg Mitchell in The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood – and America – Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s not just a great yarn with some surprising participants, it’s also an urgent warning about secrecy, manipulation and suppression.”

Listen now

 

Courtesy Milestone Film & Video


Posted on April 1, 2022
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In Memory of Colin Powell

Poster of the Week from the

Center for the Study

of Political Graphics

 

Gulf Wars Episode II
Arie Kaplan and Scott Sonneborn
Mad Magazine
Offset, 2002
New York, NY
20968

“(Colin Powell) . . . made a career out of being a good soldier and supporting U.S. mass murder around the world, but evading the credit for it.”
—Roberto Lovato, Journalist
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
—Howard Zinn, Historian

The many eulogies for Colin Powell that poured out of the corporate media this week overflowed with praise and acclamation, from Democrats and Republicans. Flags have been at half-mast from Monday through today, and his “firsts” have been stated and restated:

  • He was the first Black national security adviser
  • He was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • He was the first Black secretary of state.
The fact that he represented so many “firsts” sheds as much light on systemic racism as on his accomplishments.

 

In contrast to the adulation, Roberto Lovato, Kenn Orphan, Amy Goodman, and other journalists remind us of Powell’s war crimes which include:

  • Helping to whitewash the massacre of more than 300 unarmed civilians at My Lai during the war against Viet Nam.
  • Promoting and presiding over the 1989 bombing, invasion, and slaughter in Panama.
  • Promoting and presiding over the Gulf War in the 1990s.
  • Giving the green light to Ariel Sharon to attack the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank in 2002. Human Rights Watch called the high number of civilian casualties a war crime.
  • Lying to the United Nations in 2003, when he promoted the war against Iraq. Iraq never attacked the US and did not have “weapons of mass destruction.”

When will we ever learn?

CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week is a Mad Magazine spoof of the actual film poster for “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002). It features the whole cast of characters/collaborators listed below, including Colin Powell (lower right).

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Drew Struzman
Offset, 2002
United States

Poster Text:
Coming Soon! The Bush Administration In Association With The Other Bush Administration Presents Gulf Wars Episode II Clone Of The Attack Starring George W. Bush · Condoleezza Rice · Donald Rumsfeld – Reprising Their Roles From Episode I Dick Cheney · Saddam Hussein · Colin Powell · And Introducing Osama Bin Laden As The Phantom Menace · Based On An Idea By George Bush, Sr. Production Designed To Distract You From The Failing Economy Produced By The Military-Industrial Complex In Association With Exxon, Texaco, Mobil, Et Al. Directed By A Desire To Win The November Election The Success Of This Military Action Has Not Yet Been Rated
A Mad Magazine Poster

Posted on October 22, 2021
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Where the ‘Moonwalk’ Came From

Was going through some old videos and came across this gem.

Here’s a little bit of soft shoe from one of my favs, Bob Hope, from “Road to Zanzibar” — Michael Jackson didn’t have anything on this dude.


Posted on October 17, 2021
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Letter From LA: August-September

 Belated Happy New Year and Yom Kippur to my Jewish (and gentile) friends:


Sounding the horn at the Jewish new year service. Engraving with etching by B. Picart, ca. 1733.


It’s been a very mellow summer in Los Angeles. The weather these past few weeks has been delightful — no major heat waves, with temperatures ranging in the mid-70s to mid-80s. And cool breezes at night. There have been no major wildfires in Southern California, though a few have come close. The city has opened up despite the Delta Variant. There’s rampant homelessness and crime, redevelopment and corruption but, hey, that’s life in the big city. Read on.

 


 

Lately I’ve been having some very vivid dreams. Unlike the dreams of my youth, which were pretty simple, these involve complex story lines and are almost cinematic. When I was young, I had  run-of-the-mill, recurring “frustration” and “anxiety” dreams — you’re running down the halls of a school, late, looking for a class you can’t find; you’re being chased by a “monster from outer space” who’s demolished the city; you’re running from a gigantic wave that’s just about to crash down on you; you can’t find your car in an endless parking lot; you’re trying to navigate the streets of a city but keep losing your way; you’re naked. My favorite was the “flying” dream. I’d be walking down the street with some school friends and all of a sudden I’d jump into the air and float above the trees and telephone poles — it was more like jumping and coasting because I couldn’t sustain the “flying” for very long. Though dream interpreters feel that, in almost every culture, flying dreams represent freedom or a release from daily pressures, I always felt this was a dream in which I wanted to “impress” my friends.

But my “mature” dreams, though more complex, still probably reflect the frustrations and anxieties of everyday life. In one I’m wandering though the streets of the Hollywood Hills in the past and the present all at once. Sometimes the streets and hills are all dirt and they don’t match the way they are now; sometimes there are buildings under construction; other times there are apartments and homes; there are straight streets where now there are streets that curve off at odd angles; there are hills now where there were none in my past; all these presented in flashbacks and jump cuts. I drive or walk but have no recollection of what I am doing.

Freud believed that dreams allowed people to express unconscious wishes they find unacceptable in real life; Jung believed that dreams may contain ineluctable truths, philosophical pronouncements, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, irrational experiences and even telepathic visions; modern dream researchers consider dreaming to be a cognitive process, simply a thought or sequence of thoughts, and that dream images are visual representations of personal conceptions of situations occurring in one’s life.

So here are some more of my dreams with a nod to Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream and his Talkin’ World War III Blues.

I’m trying to get a card at a retail store (a Staples or a Circuit City) and also want to get a locker with them. I want to be able to get into the locker after the store closes but no one can give me any information so I wander from the back of the store to the front, where there is an employee on the street selling the cards. I feel that I should buy the card from him but once again I can’t get any information so I wander back and forth.

At a magazine I work at I’ve just come in from somewhere and there are new people working there but I know them — though I don’t — and the advertising salesman is having trouble selling ads because of the pandemic. I’m talking to some rock musician from a band I can’t remember the name of and I tell him that despite the pandemic people are going to start going back to the movies and I cite a crummy movie (“Ava”) that despite it’s poor reviews has grossed a lot of money in four weeks and how that portends well for the business. And I look in the mirror and see that I’m naked from the waist up.

I’m having problems navigating a big building that’s built like a gigantic mutli-story school building or hotel with restaurants and gyms and a forest and a big basement. And I can’t take the elevators and so I try to find the stairwells up or down but they’re hidden all over the place and they invariably lead to the wrong floors. Alternately, I’m trying to take elevators to the top of the building, where there is a gigantic outdoors area, but the elevators start and stop with me in them and I go from one to the other to try to get where I’m going but to no avail. Sometimes I get stuck, sometimes not.

Sometimes I have a sleepless night and I listen to the Classic Radio Channel on my home Sirius XM device; in the wee hours of the morning they play old cops and gangsters radio shows (Dragnet, The Lineup, Mr. District Attorney). Invariably, I have dreams about gangsters and cops and robbers. Sometimes, even without listening to the radio, I have gangster dreams.

Lately I’ve been dreaming about my dreams. And when I have a dream I don’t like, I wake up and send myself back into the dream to get rid of it; my DreamChaser chases away the dream so I don’t have it anymore.

How are things in your dreams?

 


 

“There’s a sucker born every minute”

A poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute last May found that 15 percent of Americans believe there is a cabal of liberal elites who worship Satan and traffic children for sex and blood. This is QAnon’s core tenet; those in the movement believe Donald J. Trump is battling the cabal, which, depending on whom you ask, may or may not comprise members of a reptilian alien race disguised as humans. Many followers also embrace conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, vaccines and the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.

An Economist/YouGov survey conducted last July 10-13 found that 15 percent of respondents said it was “probably true” that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips so that the government can track them.

A YouGov survey of more than 8,000 American adults in 2019 suggested hat as many as one in six Americans are not entirely certain the world is round, while a 2019 Datafolha Institute survey of more than 2,000 Brazilian adults indicated that 7% of people in that country reject that concept.

 


 

Last month granddaughter Dahlia — six — spent a week in Los Angeles, staying at Marilyn’s house. It was a great week, with highlights being a visit to Color Me Mine, Chinatown and the California Science Center. Every day was an arts & crafts day. It was a wonderful week, especially since we infrequently get to see her and her parents and siblings.

One afternoon, while driving on Highland Ave. in Hollywood, traffic going in the opposite direction was jammed. Dahlia, in a playful mood, started chanting “Hah, hah, you’re stuck in traffic and we’re not.”  There’s no traffic in Lake Isabella, where she lives. And she marvelled at so many homeless people: “We only have one at home.”

I can, of course, remember a time when there was very little traffic, and the homeless were called “bums” who lived on Skid Row downtown. For some reason this put me into a Calvinistic mood, and I got to wondering if we were somehow being punished for living la buena vida in Los Angeles, for years of ignoring the damages that “progress” has brought about. Los Angeles was once a land of milk and honey, with wide-open possibilities for good living, a place were GIs returning from WWII could settle and build a great middle-class life. But the city has been besmirched by racism, unbridled overdevelopment, corruption, and congestion. The smog of the 1950s and 1960s is gone but our hearts are clouded with dread. Once you could drive to the beaches on a whim to play in the surf and sun and sand — now it’s a torturous journey that ends up on a beach destroyed by homeless encampments. Freeway underpasses and many major streets are also overrun with trash-ridden encampments; crazies wander around screaming at themselves in schizophrenic fits; and crime has been on the upswing. Killings began to surge in Los Angeles after the onset of the pandemic (with similar trends in other cities across the country). Last year, Los Angeles recorded a total of 347 homicides, a 36% jump over the level in 2019, and the first time in more than a decade that the annual figure had surpassed 300. The period from Jan. 1-June 30 was the deadliest first six months of the year since at least 2010; so far in 2021, 445 people have been shot, compared to 257 people this time last year. Though overall property crime has decreased, attacks on persons have increased: this July brought a spike in aggravated assaults, with 1,299 incidents being the highest number since at least 2010, and a 17.1 percent increase over the same month last year. Additionally, the city has experienced a 20 percent increase in motor vehicle thefts this year.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a vibrancy here, with an incredible variety of foods and museums and events and movies (except for the world-famous Arclight Hollywood and the Cinerama Dome, which Pacific Theatres has not re-opened since the end of lockdown). But, like the structure of the entertainment industry that has undergone drastic revisions in the last decade (MGM, Fox gone, Paramount threatened), LA’s structure has been revised. The city has always been a speculator and a charlatan’s haven, but now the redevelopment moguls have the city in the palm of their hands like never before. Last year an investigation into corruption allegations against Los Angeles city councilman Jose Huizar brought to light a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving several developers who sought the politician’s backing for lucrative property deals; he was  charged with accepting at least $1.5 million in bribes and indicted by a federal grand jury on 34 felony counts. Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan and four real-estate developers have also been charged.


Right now, in Hollywood alone, there are more than 30 redevelopment projects underway, in the works, or completed (at the intersection of Cahuenga Blvd & De Longpre Ave., three gigantic new structures have been built — high-end apartments, a hotel and an office building). Many of these are hotels or mixed-use facilities that tower over old Hollywood and obscure the hills and the Hollywood sign; much needed affordable housing is an after-thought. Even when the city mandates that developers provide a percentage of affordable units in high-rise, trendy and expensive apartment buildings, the developers know how to skirt the rules (or avoid them). For example, two long blocks of businesses on Sunset Blvd. (between Gardner and Stanley in Hollywood) was razed for something called the 7500-7550 Sunset project, which was approved by the city council to consist of two buildings with a total of 200 multi-family residential units, including 8 and 12 very low income units and approximately 30,000 square feet of ground floor commercial retail and restaurant space. But a glance at the developer’s web site shows that “7500 Sunset Boulevard is a new condo development” with 213 units. No affordable housing here in a city were housing is an expensive premium. When I contacted my local councilmember about this, one of her field deputies responses was “Interesting … I will share with Planning!” Nothing more from her.

City Hall has always pretty much abandoned Los Angeles to the developers — the history of the city is rife with land scandals, racially discriminatory covenants (homes in some communities could not be sold, resold or used by “non-whites”) and “land syndicates” (The Los Angeles Times dynasty the Chandlers, Southern Pacific Railroad’s Henry Huntington, Wells Fargo’s Isaias W. Hellman and other prominent LA tycoons joined in syndicates to monopolize development and subdivisions of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley in the 1900s-1920s). But today it has gotten out of control.

For more info on how Los Angles has been exploited by big business and land developers, read “Los Angeles: Ecology of Evil,” by Peter Plagens (Art Forum 11.4, December 1972, 67–76) and “City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles” by Mike Davis (1990, Verso). For a rundown of development projects in Hollywood, see https://la.curbed.com/maps/hollywood-development-hotels-apartments-construction; it’s two years old but pretty comprehensive.

 


 

I read the news today, oh boy:

According to Jill Lapore, writing in The New Yorker, July 26, 2021, more than half of all Americans get their news from social media. What’s worse is that studies have consistently shown that the more time people spend on Facebook the worse their mental health becomes; Facebooking is also correlated with “increased sedentariness, a diminishment of meaningful face-to-face relationships, and a decline in real-world social activities.”


Posted on September 27, 2021
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Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts dies at 80

From Bill Mohr’s Koan Kinship blog:

The Rolling Stones were founded almost sixty years ago by Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart. Stewart was soon relegated to being their road manager and an occasional sessions musician. The news is breaking that Charlie Watts died in a London hospital earlier today. The original band now has only Richards and Jagger as the remaining members of the band.

Watts’s original musical interest was jazz, and in the 1990s he used the money he made from drumming with the Rolling Stones to form a jazz orchestra. His interest in jazz was long known: his drawings on the back of the album cover of Between the Buttons were the first clue to the breadth of his musical preferences.

Watts’s choices in percussion made significant contributions to the distinctive sound of his bandmates. One only has to listen to the inexhaustible resonance of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to hear how Watts’s brief but propulsive solo interlude makes all the difference in how that “Hey Hey Hey” chorus churns the song headlong into the next full verse. Rae Armantrout has written about how much of an impact that song had on her as a young person living in San Diego in the summer of 1965, and I can vouch that it had an equal impact on me in Imperial Beach, when that tiny, working-class city had yet to be cut in half by an annexation to San Diego.

In a recent interview, Watts talked about his refusal to get a “smart” phone and how his steadfast allegiance to a flip phone irritated Jagger because the band’s lead singer and songwriting collaborator wasn’t able to send Watts documents and drawings for immediate approval. For someone still using a flip phone at that point, I felt as if my obstinacy had received a major social endorsement. Thank you, Charlie, for one last gift!

The Stones are set to go on tour, but I suspect that it will be a more melancholy event than even the remaining members of the band anticipate.

R.I.P. Charlie Watts (1941-2021)


Posted on August 24, 2021
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