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Editor, The Konformist
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Comedian Jonathan Winters; Mouseketeer (and Beach Blanket Bingo star) Annette Funicello; UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Arcosanti founder Paolo Soleri; Native American ballerina Maria Tallchief; Frank Bank, aka Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford; John Madden's most noted broadcasting sidekick Pat Summerall, the Ed McMahon of football announcers; Pink Floyd & Led Zeppelin album artwork designer Storm Thorgerson; USA Today media mogul Al Neuharth; Chrissy Amphlett, Divinyls lead singer best known for the song "I Touch Myself"; folk singer Richie Havens; and character actor Richard LeParmentier, best known for playing an Imperial general in Star Wars who mocks The Force, leading to Darth Vader psychic-choking him, complemented with the authoritative retort: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
It appears suggesting Matthew Warren may have been gay, and his suicide may have been motivated by his father's relentless gay-bashing, is being cruel and insensitive to his father. Meanwhile, Rick Warren's promotion of homophobia and gay "conversion" therapy is something to merely gloss over. But the elephant in the room surrounding Matthew's suicide won't be ignored for long: I suspect the truth will come out sooner rather later, even with all the money and power that the Saddleback Megachurch has. I'll repeat what I said in 2008 when Warren was quasi-legitimized in the establishment via Barack Obama's craven bootlicking: Rick Warren is Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with better PR.
And last but not least, Roger Ebert:
Roger Ebert ultimately was all about film. Here, in alphabetical order, are Ebert's final picks for the best films in history and the directors who made them.
"Aguirre, Wrath of God" (Werner Herzog): The 1972 story of the travels of a Spanish soldier is "one of the great haunting visions of cinema."
"Apocalypse Now" (Francis Ford Coppola): The 1979 Vietnam War film is "a grand and grave and insanely inspired gesture of filmmaking."
"Citizen Kane" (Orson Welles): Said Ebert of the 1941 epic: "Its surface is as much fun as any movie ever made; its depths surpass understanding."
"La Dolce Vita" (Federico Fellini): Made with "boundless energy," the 1960 film about a journalist in Rome was first reviewed by Ebert when he was a student at the University of Illinois.
"The General" (Buster Keaton): This 1927 movie starring Buster Keaton is "an epic of silent comedy."
"Raging Bull" (Martin Scorsese): Released in 1980, the tale of a fighter is "not a film about boxing but about a man with paralyzing jealousy and sexual insecurity."
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick): The 1968 sci-fi flick "is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe."
"Tokyo Story" (Yasujiro Ozu): Released in 1953, the story of an aging couple who travel to visit their grown children is a "as simple and universal as life itself."
"The Tree of Life" (Terrence Malick): The 2011 film, which follows a father, his wife and two sons, is a movie "of vast ambition and deep humility."
"Vertigo" (Alfred Hitchcock): Ebert thought this 1958 movie, about a private investigator hired to follow a woman, was Hitchcock's most confessional.
`I Know What The Shining Is Really About': Inside the Crowded Cult at the Overlook Hotel
In the ensuing years, more than most movies, The Shining has deeply, inexorably embedded itself into the pop-culture mindscape. No one thinks much about naming a mid-range cop show Redrum, after the film's backward "murder" riff. The identically dressed murdered little girls who roam the ghostways of the Overlook Hotel have far exceeded the recognizability of the Diane Arbus photo they are based on. Still, I remained in the dark. I had no notion that a DVD-based cult had risen up around The Shining, that the movie was studied by cine-psychonauts with a fine-tooth intensity usually reserved for the Zapruder film. I had no knowledge of the plethora of Internet sites like theoverlookhotel.com, which refers to itself as a clearinghouse for "ephemera related to Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece of modern horror, The Shining."
This would change, however, when I happened upon a screening of Room 237, an epic of Shining fixation that critic Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described as "nutty, arcane, and jaw-dropping a head-first plunge down the rabbit hole of Kubrickiana from which, for some, there is evidently no return."
Named for the forbidden Overlook room where the hapless, sexually frustrated Jack Torrance embraces a beautiful naked woman only to have her body decay at his tainted touch, Room 237 presents a compendium of Shining fans and scholars offering various readings on what the film is really "about." These include: a metaphor for the extermination of the Native Americans; a retelling of the aforementioned Minotaur story channeled through an M. C. Escherlike maze of "impossible" architecture; a meditation on the nature of the Holocaust; as well as an encoded apologia by the director for his alleged role in faking the footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It is to the everlasting credit of Room 237 and its director, Rodney Ascher, that this apparent claptrap soon uncoils in the gray matter like a tapeworm.
Immediately upon returning home from seeing Room 237, I streamed The Shining. Over the next 36 hours, I streamed the film three more times. Three decades past that desultory Times Square evening, fourteen years after Kubrick's death in 1999, scales clanked from mine eyes like rain. In 1980, at age 32, The Shining seemed a trifle, made by a fading talent. In 2013, on the verge of Medicare, I saw a completely different movie, a Faustian saga of errant humanity, a sick, sick, sick, black-humored Kafka take on horror-movie conventions, marital relations, and the way synthetic realities tend to drive you crazy.
In other words, The Shining became emblematic of everything I had ever loved in Stanley Kubrick movies, a rewrapped gift from across time and tide from a once wrongly shunned, now thankfully resurrected idol.
It was certainly not unusual for people who disliked The Shining at first to change their mind about the film, said Bill Blakemore as we ate dinner at Cafe Fiorello on Broadway, not far from the offices of ABC News, where Blakemore started working more than four decades ago, covering the Vatican and numerous Middle Eastern wars. In Room 237, Blakemore is the one who believes the thematic subtext of The Shining is the murder of Native Americans by "the genocidal armies, the white men with their ax," who came to build the Overlook Hotel in 1907.
Blakemore said he was clued to the larger message of the film by the presence of cans of Calumet baking powder on the shelves of the Overlook pantry. "He gives you a little key to the film's larger meaning. This was how Kubrick worked," Blakemore said. "He places something that catches your eye" that guides you through the confluence of false leads, misremembered memories, elliptical dialogue.
Asked why the significance of the baking-powder cans was clear to him but not everyone else, Blakemore said, "I grew up in Chicago, just north of the Calumet Harbor. I knew the word meant peace pipe, the symbol of an honest treaty, but so little of what happens in The Shining is on the level. Still, for me, the cans point a direction. With Kubrick, however long the journey takes, by whatever route you get there, you eventually come face-to-face with the truth."
The mystery resided in the film's central image, the repeated sequence of blood cascading from behind the hotel's elevator doors, Blakemore continued over a plate of Fiorello's hearty antipasto. "When the Overlook manager, Stuart Ullman, tells Nicholson and Shelley Duvall that the hotel is built on an Indian burial ground, that's a dead giveaway, because the line isn't in the Stephen King novel. That elevator shaft drives a stake into the body and soul of a murdered people."
This was how Blakemore saw it. "For years I've covered these terrible events. War after war. Dispossession after dispossession. Murder after murder. Where do you think all that blood comes from?"
What a marvelous semiological scavenger hunt Room 237 was! To accept that Kubrick was a genius, an unerring god of a filmmaker, a man so meticulous and precise that nothing could possibly appear in his frames through unpremeditated accident, opened the floodgates of potential meaning. Geoffrey Cocks, interviewed in the documentary, was positive that the presence of a German-made typewriter and the number 42 on Danny's sweatshirt signified, among other uses of the number, that the film was a commentary on the Holocaust, "42" referencing 1942. (Danny also says redrum 42 times.) Juli Kearns, a devotee of the Cretan-labyrinth theory, knew instinctively that the window in Ullman's office was somehow "wrong," a deliberately placed, architecturally "impossible" portal of doom (suggesting the supernatural lair of the Minotaur), which she refers to as "powerful" and "sinister." John Fell Ryan, with no specific theory except awe at Kubrick's infinite, engulfing talent, delighted in running the film forward and backward at the same time to study the synchronicity of the superimpositions, such as when the image of the murdered little girls is overlaid by a headshot of Jack Nicholson, looking "like a clown" with "blood on his lips." If Susan Sontag feared that "interpretation" had become a matter of dry-rot "hermeneutics" rather than passionate "erotics," she would find no reason to fret here.
It wasn't that so much of what was being said about The Shining was so blindingly new. What mattered was the DIY methodology, the way the meme moved, the collectivity. When Bill Blakemore first saw Room 237, he thought, "Well, maybe two of us are sane, and the other three are nuts." This "40 percent rationality" quotient was irksome, but Blakemore soon came to appreciate director Rodney Ascher's method. Since there are no talking heads, only voices heard over images from the films of Kubrick and others, the opinions seem to blend together into what Blakemore called "a giant conversation." The result is "you might always have three people who are crazy, and two people are sane, but who's who keeps changing."
The Entire Run Of Omni Magazine Is Available Online For Free
JAN 2, 2013 | AUTHOR: DAVID WHARTON | CATEGORY: SCI-FI
The age of the internet has been rough on traditional printed publications. Even major magazines such as People and Time have occasionally struggled as they adapted to the digital age that has more and more people absorbing most of their content digitally. While that ongoing transition has seen the demise of many smaller publications, the magazines that have adapted well, like Wired, are better than ever. There's another nice perk of the online era when it comes to the magazine world: you can preserve publications and make them available to more people with a scanner and some patience. Case in point: the entire run of Omni magazine is online and readable for free:
Focusing on both science and science fiction, Omni enjoyed a long and venerable run, first published in October 1978. The print version lasted until Winter 1995, and while a digital version continued through 1997, eventually that, too, folded. That's a damn shame, but what an amazingly cool treat that the entire run of the magazine is available for our perusal at the Internet Archive. Some days I really love the internet...
Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: 'Sure, Who Cares'
ISSUE 4913 Mar 26, 2013
WASHINGTON Ten minutes into oral arguments over whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to marry one another, a visibly confounded Supreme Court stopped legal proceedings Tuesday and ruled that gay marriage was "perfectly fine" and that the court could "care less who marries whom."
"Yeah, of course gay men and women can get married. Who gives a shit?" said Chief Justice John Roberts, who interrupted attorney Charles Cooper's opening statement defending Proposition 8, which rescinded same-sex couples' right to marry in California. "Why are we even seriously discussing this?"
"Does anyone else up here care about this?" Roberts added as his eight colleagues began shaking their heads and saying, "No," "Nah," and "I also don't care about this." "Great. Same-sex marriage is legal in the United States of America. Do we have anything of actual import on the docket, or are we done for the day?"
Before Roberts officially ended proceedings, sources confirmed that all nine justices were reportedly dumbfounded, asking why the case was even coming before them and wondering aloud if some sort of mistake had been made. Calling marriage equality a "no-brainer," members of the High Court appeared not just confused but irritated when Proposition 8 defenders argued that gay marriage was not a national issue but a state matter.
Moreover, when Attorney Cooper said that gay marriage could harm the moral fabric of the country and hurt the institution of marriage, Associate Justice Sotomayor asked, "What are you even talking about?" while Justice Anthony Kennedy reportedly muttered, "You got to be fucking kidding me," under his breath.
"I have to interject, Mr. Cooper," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said as the attorney argued that the government has legitimate reasons to discourage same-sex couples from getting married. "Do you honestly care this much about this issue? Because if you do, you're a real goddamn idiot. Actually, you sound as dumb as dog shit, and you are wasting our time."
"Should gay marriage be legal?" Ginsburg continued. "Yes. Done. Case closed. Goodbye. Christ, were we seriously scheduled to spend the next few months debating this?"
Even the typically conservative wing of the court maintained that, despite their personal views, it would be "downright silly" for them to rule that same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
"I'm a strict Originalist, Mr. Cooper, and I'm looking at a 14th Amendment that forbids any state from denying any person equal protection of the law," Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said. "So, unless we are the most uncivilized society on the face of God's green earth, I think we can all agree that a gay person is in fact a person. So what I'm saying is, who the fuck are we to tell a person who he or she can get married to? This is dumb. Can we talk about a real case now, please?"
Before adjourning the court, Roberts said there would be no official opinion on the case because it's just "common goddamn sense," and then addressed gay men and women directly.
"Get married, don't get married, do whatever you want," Roberts said. "It's the opinion of this court that we don't give two shits what you do."
"C'mon, let's go get some food," added Roberts, as the eight other justices followed him out the door.
Are "Farmscrapers" the Future of Sustainable Architecture?
One of the advantages of living in a city is that the urban environment is in many ways more sustainable than suburbia mass transit provides easy access to different areas without cars or highways, and dense planning efficiently fits more people into less space. But the quintessential architectural unit of the city, the skyscraper, isn't always the greenest method of building. Enter "farmscrapers," a new creation by the France and Belgium-based firm Vincent Callebaut Architects.
"Farmscraper" is the term they invented for a plan of six skyscrapers, deemed "Asian Cairns," created for Shenzhen province in China. The towering structures are divided into ovular, blob-like sections that look like rocks smoothed by years in running water. Each blob plays host to a miniature forest of trees and grass, along with wind turbines and solar cells. Each farmscraper measures 1,300 feet high and has 111 floors, reports New York Daily News.
The farmscrapers are designed to act as self-contained ecosystems: The water created and collected by the planted farms will be recycled for use within the building. The farms will not necessarily produce food to sustain the community, but they will improve the city's legendarily bad air quality. Each pebble unit will also contain a mixture of office, residential, and recreational space. By mingling efficient density with green design strategies, Callebaut is developing an architectural solution for China's booming urban expansion. "In this context of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism, the Asian Cairns project fights for the construction of an urban multifunctional, multicultural and ecological pole," the firm explained on World Architecture News.
Brad Pitt: America's war on drugs is a charade, and a failure
The actor and executive producer of the documentary The House I Live In says US drugs policy needs a radical rethink
The Observer, Saturday 30 March 2013
Today, with very little effort, anyone can land in virtually any city in this country, and within a day or two, procure their drug of choice. Since declaring a war on drugs 40 years ago, the United States has spent more than a trillion dollars, arrested more than 45 million people, and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world. Yet it remains laughably easy to obtain illegal drugs. So why do we continue down this same path? Why do we talk about the drug war as if it's a success? It's a charade.
The drug war continues because it is a system that perpetuates itself. On a local level, any time a bust is made, scarcity drives up prices and, of course, the profit potential. History has taught us that there is no shortage of opportunists willing to fill the void and so the cycle continues and rates of drug use and dealing remain unchanged while incarceration skyrockets.
As long as we concentrate on staunching the supply, we create an artificially inflated market that is appealing enough to outweigh the risks of punishment. But if we focus our efforts on the flipside of the coin, and ask why there seems to be such an insatiable demand for recreational drugs, while investing in education, treatment and harm reduction, we might be able to break that cycle. The United States needs to fix the structures in our society that leave people desperate enough that addiction or drug dealing seems like a viable alternative.
The practical failure of the war on drugs is just part of the problem. The same policies that have had so little effect on the country's drug use have deeply and disparately impacted poor and minority communities in the United States. The burdens of over-incarceration and targeted policing have been borne overwhelmingly by the country's marginalised, making it harder than ever for large swathes of the population to enjoy the American dream. This is not because those communities use narcotics at a greater rate than the rest of us. In fact they don't. They are just more vulnerable to the war on drugs. It has to stop. It's one thing to abide by policies that don't make things better; it's another to continue with those that actually make things worse.
Wesley Snipes Leaves Pa. Prison After Tax Sentence
April 05, 2013
Wesley Snipes has been released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania.
Snipes was convicted in 2008 on tax charges. He was released Tuesday and placed under home confinement. A Bureau of Corrections spokeswoman said Friday he'll be overseen by the New York Community Corrections Office until July 19.
Snipes has appeared in dozens of films, from "White Men Can't Jump" and "Demolition Man" in the early 1990s to the "Blade" trilogy. He entered the McKean prison in December 2010 to begin a three-year sentence for failure to file income tax returns.
Snipes belonged to a group that challenged the government's right to collect taxes. Prosecutors say he failed to file returns for at least a decade and owed millions of dollars in back taxes.
Snipes had appealed in an Atlanta court, saying he didn't get a fair trial.
"Spiritual Economics" is a cross-disciplinary study combining psychology, economics and the spiritual science of the Vedas to explain why there is vulture capitalism, cut-throat competition, unending economic hardship, exploitation, inequity, and struggle in this world. Spiritual Economics explains why present economic methods can do nothing to solve these problems, reveals the actual source of our economic problems, and explains the only factual solution that can create an economy that serves everyone. Spiritual Economics also explains the origin and solution of our ecological problems.
There is a link between economic activity and human consciousness. Economics is not a physical science like electromagnetism that works according to natural laws. It is a set of ideas entirely created by human beings. The most important side of the economic equation therefore, is the human side, but this side is totally neglected in all discussions of economics. Since economics is a man-made creation, if we want to understand the economic problem and its solution we must understand how and why human beings act in this world. That will give us the insight needed to properly adjust all of the parameters of the economic calculus to get the desired result. Employing the spiritual wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, Spiritual Economics explains the behavior of spiritual beings living in a material world. This has everything to do with economic activity.
Spiritual Economics also traces out, and explains, the historical drift from the gift economy found in many indigenous cultures to the economic exploitation taking place today.
Spiritual Economics analyzes economic behavior as a function of human consciousness, and explains the development of consciousness using concepts from the Vedic worldview. As such it offers a perspective that is entirely absent from all other economic analyses. The serious reader of this website is encouraged to acquaint themselves with the Vedic worldview as a first step to understanding Spiritual Economics.
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