Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

KN4M 09-02-08

Expand Messages
  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      The Decade of the Dude
      How The Big Lebowski — the Coen brothers' 1998 stoner caper starring
      Jeff Bridges as an L.A. slacker called the Dude — became the most
      worshipped comedy of its generation
      Posted Sep 04, 2008

      "This whole room is kind of dude-like," Jeff Bridges says. It's a
      summer afternoon at Bridges' Santa Barbara, California, estate, and
      the 58-year-old actor is digging around his dusty garage, looking
      for memorabilia from The Big Lebowski. Artifacts from the movie are
      strewn about his Spanish-tiled house. In Bridges' recording studio —
      where he once cut an album with Michael McDonald — sits one of the
      bowling-pin hats used in the trippy dream sequence with Bridges and
      co-star Julianne Moore. In his office are the grimy jelly sandals
      that Bridges' character, a slacker called the Dude, wore for most of
      the film. When we walk up to the ocean-view bluff where Bridges
      likes to hike every day, there's the remains of a cocktail in a
      dirty cup. It's a Black Russian. As far as I can tell, this seems
      like the biggest difference between Bridges and his most enduring
      character, who prefers his Russians white.

      Now Bridges, a four-time Oscar nominee, is rooting through a giant
      stack of cardboard boxes in his garage. After a while, he clutches
      something and pulls it out.

      "Ahhh," he says. "Here it is."

      It's the Sweater. As in, the beige and brown zigzag cable-knit
      sweater that the Dude wears through much of Lebowski. For a die-hard
      fan, it's like seeing Harrison Ford dig out Indiana Jones' fedora.

      Bridges sees me smiling and laughs hysterically. "Here, try it on,"
      he says.

      "I can't," I say. It would be wrong.

      "C'mon," he says.

      I put the Sweater on. It's heavy, and way too big. Bridges grabs my
      cellphone camera. "Move your right shoulder a little bit to the
      side," he says. "Head up a little bit, perfect, right there."

      To think this is all about a strange movie that bombed when it came
      out in 1998. But in the 10 years since its woeful release, The Big
      Lebowski — a tangled Desert Storm-era comedic caper directed by
      Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo, Raising Arizona, No Country for Old
      Men) — has become the most beloved movie of its generation. Young
      comic stars like Seth Rogen (the co-writer and star of the current
      hit Pineapple Express) and Jonah Hill (Superbad) worship the film.
      The Internet teems with Lebowski tributes and videos (like "The Mii
      Lebowski," a homage done entirely using Wii video-game characters),
      and the film has inspired dozens of academic papers, with titles
      like "Logjammin' and Gutterballs: Masculinities in The Big
      Lebowski." Several times a year, thousands of costume-wearing fans
      flock to conventions called Lebowski Fest. Bridges attended a
      Southern California Fest a few years ago — "My Beatles moment," he
      says. To date, The Big Lebowski has made $40 million on DVD — more
      than twice what it made in theaters — and in September, Universal is
      releasing a 10th-anniversary limited-edition DVD of the film, which
      will come (of course) in a bowling-ball case.

      "No movie is quoted more often amongst [our] friends," says Jim
      James, the lead singer of Louisville, Kentucky, band My Morning
      Jacket, who performed at their hometown Lebowski Fest in costume
      (James dressed as the Dude). "We often hear stories about how it has
      changed people's lives."

      Why has Lebowski become an early- 21st-century phenomenon? The
      answer may be as complicated as the film's labyrinthine plot, which
      the Coen brothers loosely based on the L.A.-noir novels of Raymond
      Chandler. Part of Lebowski mania can surely be attributed to the
      fact that it's just a very funny premise for a film. Bridges' Dude
      (real name: Jeffrey Lebowski) is a listless L.A. pothead wiling away
      the early 1990s playing in a recreational bowling league with
      friends Walter Sobchak (a mercurial Vietnam vet played by John
      Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (a mild-mannered sidekick played by
      Steve Buscemi). When a pair of clumsy thugs confuse the Dude with
      another, wealthier Jeffrey Lebowski — peeing on his prized rug in
      the process — the Dude is thrown into a screwball escapade that
      involves a family feud, a gang of nihilists, the avant-garde art
      world, the SoCal porn scene, lost homework, Tara Reid and a missing

      But that's just the start of it. Early in Lebowski, the narrator (a
      cowboy named the Stranger, played by Sam Elliott)
      intones, "Sometimes there's a man, who, well, he's the man for his
      time 'n place." The odd truth is this man — the Dude — may have been
      a decade ahead of his time. Today, as technology increasingly
      handcuffs us to schedules and appointments — in the time it takes
      you to read this, you've missed three e-mails — there's something
      comforting about a fortysomething character who will blow an evening
      lying in the bathtub, getting high and listening to an audiotape of
      whale songs. He's not a 21st-century man. Nor is he Iron Man — and
      he's certainly not Batman. The Dude doesn't care about a job, a
      salary, a 401(k), and definitely not an iPhone. The Dude just is,
      and he's happy.

      "There's a freedom to The Big Lebowski," theorizes Philip Seymour
      Hoffman, who played Brandt, the wealthy Lebowski's obsequious
      personal assistant. "The Dude abides, and I think that's something
      people really yearn for, to be able to live their life like that.
      You can see why young people would enjoy that."

      "Lebowski is one of those rare magnets of the universe that has the
      power to change time and space, to draw people and events together,"
      says James.

      "The Dude is like Dirty Harry," says the brash conservative
      screenwriter John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry), one of the
      Coen brothers' inspirations for Goodman's manic vet, Walter
      Sobchak. "Dirty Harry became a movement. And the Dude became a
      movement. It's symbolic of a whole way of life."

      No one is more surprised by the extended life of Lebowski than the
      people who made it. When I meet him one afternoon in L.A., Goodman
      immediately tells me it's his "favorite thing [he's] ever worked
      on," and he laughs uproariously when I quote him some of Walter's
      best lines (a favorite: "Say what you will about the tenets of
      National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos"). Moore, who
      played Maude, the estranged artist daughter of the wealthy Jeffrey
      Lebowski, says it's "one of the movies people mention most to me. I
      keep saying that one of these days I'm going to go to a Lebowski
      Fest." Adds Buscemi, who has appeared in nearly 100 films, including
      a few Oscar winners, "I'll pass three guys on the street, and they
      may just give me a nod. They don't even have to say a line from the
      movie. I know what movie they're thinking about."

      Bridges, too, says that he never really saw The Big Lebowski's
      second life coming. An actor's actor, he has played rowdy townies
      (The Last Picture Show), quiet aliens (Starman), louche piano
      players (The Fabulous Baker Boys) — but none have had the impact of
      the Dude. And while some actors have difficulty accepting the
      indelibility of a well-loved character, that is not the case with
      Bridges. He is at peace with the Dude. When asked if he would be
      upset if The Big Lebowski is the movie he's most remembered for,
      Bridges doesn't hesitate. "No," he says. "Not at all."

      Read the entire story in the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands
      August 22, 2008.



      Funky Cars You Love to Hate
      By Lauren DeAngelis, U.S. News

      You won't hate these cars because they're beautiful. Ugly ducklings
      like the discontinued Pontiac Azteck and Subaru Baja have given way
      to sleek shapes such as the Infiniti G37 and Cadillac CTS. But there
      are still a few duckies on lots waiting for their turn to become
      swans. Check out our picks for the oddest, wackiest and weirdest-
      looking autos in production today. And make sure to look closely,
      because behind those strange exteriors are often some of the most
      useful cargo areas and spacious cabins in the business. For some
      cars, beauty really is on the inside.

      Chrysler's PT Cruiser has developed a cult following for its one-of-
      a-kind retro design. With looks reminiscent of 1930s and 40s
      hotrods, the wagon attracts praise despite its cartoonish feel.
      Motor Trend says it's the "hottest looking retro rod anyone can
      afford. No matter where you go, people stare at the PT like it's a
      Ferrari." It may look quirky to some, but the PT's exterior isn't
      just about looks. The tall roof provides tons of headroom for
      passengers and the wagon's cargo capacity rivals that of a minivan.

      Chrysler may have thought they had the market cornered with the PT
      Cruiser, but since Chevrolet introduced the HHR in 2005 the retro-
      inspired crossover has given the PT a run for its money. Short
      for "Heritage High Roof," the HHR is inspired by the 1949 Suburban
      and looks part old delivery truck, part hearse. U.S. News reviewer
      Rick Newman describes it as "sorta cute, sorta homely, with a bit of
      gangster chic thrown in." The HHR's old-school exterior conceals a
      versatile interior -- virtually every seat folds flat and the cargo
      bay is especially deep.

      Petite Doesn't Mean Pretty

      The tiny Smart Fortwo definitely made a splash when it arrived on
      U.S. shores earlier this year -- but not just because of its
      diminutive size. The little car's unique, almost-disproportionate
      styling is one of its most distinctive traits. About.com aptly sums
      up, "It's still hard to look at it and think of it as a car. I'd
      look at all the vehicles parked on my street and think 'Car, car,
      car, Smart, car, car.'" And speaking of parking, the Fortwo's short,
      clownish shape translates into park-anywhere capabilities.

      In a class full of sporty, streamlined sedans, another small car,
      the Volkswagen GTI, sticks out like a sore thumb. Its hatchback
      design means it's taller and quirkier than its other upscale rivals.
      MSN notes that the GTI "has an especially ungainly appearance, with
      an overly aggressive-looking front end and chunky shape." However,
      the GTI isn't funny-looking for nothing. The hatchback configuration
      provides much more cargo space than its top competitors from Audi
      and Acura, giving it a rare shot of practicality for its class.

      The Cubism Movement

      When it hit dealerships in 2003, the Scion xB made quite a style
      statement -- and not necessarily in a good way. Its boxy, toaster-
      like appearance went against the emerging trend of increasingly
      sleek, rounded vehicles. But while some people hated the statement,
      others embraced the ugly yet functional look. Why? Because the cabin
      is downright cavernous. MSN calls headroom "astounding," while
      Cars.com says "there's more room in the xB's backseat than in some
      midsize cars."

      If the Scion xB is boxy, the Honda Element (introduced the year
      before the Scion) takes cubism to a whole new level. Its utilitarian
      shape and reverse-hinged rear doors set it apart from your typical
      SUV. While the xB is often compared to a toaster, Car and Driver
      bills the Element as a "rolling breadbox." If that's the case, the
      Element can hold a heck of a lot of bread. Those unusual rear doors
      make loading cargo easy with an opening that's larger than most
      minivans. And the Element's height allows plenty of room for even
      the tallest passengers.

      Teenage Mutant Ninja...Trucks?

      With large cabins and small truck beds, Sport Utility Trucks (SUTs)
      look strange no matter what. The Honda Ridgeline boasts one of the
      most controversial exteriors of all. "The Ridgeline reminds me of
      the old Rodney Dangerfield joke about how he was so ugly as a kid
      his parents had to tie a pork chop bone around his neck so the dog
      would play with him," criticizes the Detroit News. But despite an
      exterior ranking at the bottom of its class, the Ridgeline has
      plenty to offer. Its cargo bed may be short, but that means it fits
      easily into most garages. It also features an in-bed trunk complete
      with drain plugs for converting into a cooler. The Hummer H2 SUT
      looks just like a Hummer -- only with the two rear windows chopped
      off and a teeny-tiny truck bed in their place. Sound pretty? Well,
      not exactly, but it is pretty muscular and imposing for a pick-up.
      U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman calls the styling "military chic."
      Plus, the combat-inspired SUT is the ultimate truck for hauling
      versatility. Its rear midgate allows drivers to convert it from a
      five-passenger SUV with a small truck bed into a two-person truck
      with a six-foot bed.



      Finally, An Honest Campaign Sign
      Posted by Lava Cocktail at Saturday, August 30, 2008




      Barack Obama's show even tops 'Idol'
      By Richard Huff
      Friday, August 29th 2008

      More than 38.3 million people tuned in to see presidential nominee
      Sen. Barack Obama address the Democratic National Convention
      Thursday night.

      That was the largest audience for the 2008 DNC this year, and bigger
      than the audiences for the "American Idol" finale or "The Academy

      Sen. John Kerry drew just 24.4 million for his acceptance speech in

      The audience watching Obama's nomination speech was actually larger
      than reported, though unmeasured. Nielsen's estimate counts 10
      networks' coverage in the 10 p.m. hour, but not PBS and C-Span,
      which also carried the event.

      "There has been enormous interest," CNN senior vice president David
      Bohrman said. "[The presidential race] has transitioned into a must-
      see TV event....People have become transfixed."

      CNN had 8 million people watching. ABC averaged 6.6 million; NBC
      averaged 6.1 million; CBS, 4.7 million; the Fox News Channel, 4.2
      million and MSNBC averaged 4.0 million.


      Sarah Palin: VPILF
      Robert Sterling

      Ignore for a second that Sarah Palin is a true blue right wing kool-
      aid drinker. Let's give John McCain some credit for introducing a
      new phrase in the political lexicon: VPILF.

      Already many have noted her resemblance to SNL's Tina Fey:


      Personally, I couldn't help noticing her resemblance to Eva
      Angelina, which is perhaps even more complementary...




      Saakashvili's "democracy" in Georgia
      By Wayne Madsen
      Online Journal Contributing Writer
      Aug 28, 2008

      (WMR) -- While the neocon media and the George Soros-
      funded "progressive left" defends the Georgian government of Mikheil
      Saakashvili against so-called Russian "aggression," it should be
      recalled that Saakashvili is anything but a paragon of democracy.

      Shalva Natelashvili would agree with those in Russia and the United
      States who question Saakashvili's foreign entanglements and
      political and economic agenda. Natelashvili, as the leader of
      Georgia's opposition Labor Party, has experienced Saakashvili's
      dictatorship first-hand.

      Natelashvili is no friend of Saakashvili's patrons in the United
      States, backers that span the political aisle from Barack Obama's
      financial backer George Soros and chief foreign policy adviser
      Zbigniew Brzezinski to John McCain's top foreign policy adviser
      Randy Scheunemann. For that reason, Natelashvili favors closer ties
      between Georgia and Russia. Natelashvili has called Soros the "real
      president of Georgia," suggesting that Saakashvili is merely Soros'
      puppet. Natelashvili has also called Matthew Bryza, Secretary of
      State Condoleezza Rice's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
      European and Eurasian Affairs and her special envoy to Georgia, a
      tool of the Soros-backed Georgian government. Natelashvili has
      called for Bryza's resignation.

      Natelashvili's program of restoring free natural gas and electricity
      to Georgia for three years as a way to lighten the financial burden
      of utility bills on poor Georgian households did not earn him any
      points with Saakashvili or Soros, a person who preys on the poor and
      unemployed through his vulture capitalist practices. And to earn him
      greater wrath from the Soros crowd, Natelashvili opposes the
      privatization of state-owned industries and wants them returned to
      state control, as well as reducing the power of Georgia's
      neocon "unitary executive" presidency.

      The pseudo-democrat Saakashvili responded to Natelashvili by
      accusing him of espionage prior to the presidential election last
      January, an election which Saakashvili won amid charges by the
      opposition of election fraud. Natelashvili was accused by the neocon
      government in Tbilisi of meeting with Russian intelligence agents
      and planning to overthrow the government. Earlier, Saakashvili's
      government had arrested opposition leader Irakli Okruashvili and
      issued charges against wealthy businessman and opposition leader
      Badri Patarkatsishvili and Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the son of the
      first Georgian president. Patarkatsishvili, the co-owner of
      Georgia's Imedi TV network, died suddenly outside of London last
      February at the age of 53. He was a bitter opponent of Saakashvili
      and many Georgians and some British police suspected foul play in
      his death, ruled later as a heart attack.

      The convergence of Soros and the Obama campaign on one side and
      Scheunemann and the McCain campaign on the other illustrates the
      lack of difference between the Democrats and Republicans when it
      comes to revanchist Cold War politics. Scheunemann was a member of
      the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and favors
      expansion of NATO. Obama's foreign policy team of Brzezinski and
      Wesley Clark are in agreement with Scheunemann whose Orion
      Strategies has made a fortune in lobbying for NATO expansion and
      awarding countries like Latvia lucrative contracts in U.S.-occupied
      Iraq. Scheunemann is close to Iraq National Congress leader Ahmad
      Chalabi whose bogus intelligence helped launch the U.S. misadventure
      in Iraq.

      The Soros network has funded a series of democracy manipulation
      revolutions around the world, including the Rose Revolution in
      Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution in
      Lebanon, the Olive Tree Revolution in Palestine (that saw Hamas come
      to power), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Purple Revolution
      in Iraq (that saw a Shi'a-dominated government friendly to Iran come
      to power), and the Saffron Revolution in Burma (one that was crushed
      by the military). There were also abortive themed revolutions in
      Moldova and Belarus. Not to be omitted is the Orange Democratic
      Movement's uprising in Kenya, one that saw thousands murdered before
      the Orange movement's leader Raila Odinga became Prime Minister in a
      power-sharing government. Odinga's father Oginga Odinga was a close
      friend of Barack Obama's father, Barack Obama, Sr.

      Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

      Copyright © 2008 WayneMadenReport.com

      Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and
      nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of
      the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).



      Most affluent city might surprise you
      By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

      What's the most affluent city in the USA?

      (a) San Jose

      (b) San Francisco

      (c) Honolulu

      (d) Plano, Texas

      The answer is Plano — and that surprises even the mayor of this
      260,000-person Dallas suburb.

      "I'd never heard that before," Plano Mayor Pat Evans says. "But it's
      good to know."

      The Census Bureau released its annual report on income and poverty
      Tuesday. The results offer an interesting — and often unexpected —
      portrait of who's rich and who's poor in the USA.

      Plano was the report's star among cities with populations of 250,000
      or more. It had the highest income and lowest poverty rate.

      Plano's median household income in 2007 was $84,492, up 10% from
      2006. Placing a distant second: San Jose, with a median income of

      Plano is the home to corporate headquarters for Frito-Lay, JCPenney
      and other companies. Billionaire Ross Perot founded computer giant
      EDS and Perot Systems, both still based in Plano.

      The city is north of Dallas at the end of a light-rail line. Gymnast
      Nastia Liukin, Olympic gold medalist in Beijing, trains there.

      Despite its affluence, the median home price is about $225,000,
      Evans says. By contrast, San Jose's median home price is $744,000.

      "We've got the lowest taxes and highest level of services in North
      Texas," the mayor says.

      The poorest city in the nation was Detroit, with a median household
      income of $28,097. It fell to the bottom spot this year, replacing

      The Census Bureau report also showed:

      •States. Maryland remained the top state in income, and Mississippi
      remained the poorest.

      Energy states Alaska and Wyoming had the biggest income gains. Four
      states lost ground: Michigan, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota.

      •Congressional districts. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who represents
      suburbs outside Washington, has the most affluent constituents.
      Their median household income was $103,664.

      Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., who represents Harlem and the Bronx in
      New York City, has the district with the poorest residents. Median
      household income was $23,291.

      •Regions. Income grew in the South and Midwest. It fell in the
      Northeast and did not change in the West.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.