Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Non-aggravating felonies

It’s good news any time somebody is spared the threat of state-sponsored murder, but something tells me that non-uniformed citizens of the great state of South Carolina have not been granted the same courtesy that police officer Michael Slager has been granted when confronted with video evidence of the murder they committed, as well as evidence of their attempt to cover up that crime and lie to police. Prosecutors say Slager won't be considered for a lethal shot of poison because there were no "aggravating circumstances" in his shooting of an unarmed black man suspected of a tail light infraction. Aggravating circumstances in the state include items like rape, robbery, kidnapping, other felonies, but not other felonies, apparently, like planting evidence.

It’s still good to be a cop in this country, protecting the 1% from the 99%. Should we now doubt the eventual likelihood of a conviction in the killing of Walter Scott? Remember that it wasn't just Slager that lied. Before the video surfaced, the North Charleston police reported that there was a tussle between Scott and Slager and that Scott gained control of the officer's taser and attempted to use it against him. Also, why was Scott pulled over to begin with? It's not a traffic violation in the Palmetto State to drive with only one workable tail light. At most, this should have been a courtesy stop.

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Is there anybody out there whose hand you would not shake? Where I’m from, you’re taught to extend your hand if somebody extends theirs to you, but certainly there are some political figures whom I consider corrupt—a great many of them actually—that would cause me to hesitate before reaching for a hand. This list is more or less the list of the lawmakers that have criticized President Obama for shaking hands with Raoul Castro last week.

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Obama’s second term has seen some valuable progress made towards warming relations with Iran, a country with a large percentage of Western-educated citizens and, not that long ago, one of the Middle East’s most progressive countries. Unfortunately, some in Congress fail to understand that the launching of a war is a failure of diplomacy, not a variation of it. The flip-out in Congress over the Iranian nuclear deal should show us definitively how strong and long the tentacles are that extend from the anti-Palestinian lobby in Washington.

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Fortunately, on this Jackie Robinson Day, the Cardinals are not the focus of the news stories regarding the scarcity of African-American players on Major League Baseball rosters. Thanks, Jason Heyward.

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Quote of the day: My wife, to me, as I walked out the door Monday night en route to a condo association meeting, "Don't talk too much. Let other people talk."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letterman Tribute #7

The day following David Letterman's 68th birthday, CBS unveiled an extensive list of names that will comprise the final guests ever on Letterman's The Late Show. Dave is beginning his final five weeks as host of the show this week. His run on CBS began in August of 1993, and his career in late night television goes back to February of 1982. His last night will be Wednesday, May 20th. Adding some of the names that have already made final appearances, this list doesn't appear to stray far at all from the one conjured on this blog 12 months ago. Mine's still a little more thorough, but let's see how all of the holes get filled. Anticipation.

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And then there was the night that Cybill Shepherd came out dressed in only a towel.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Xanadu

 

Our trip to California this week included a tour at William Randolph Hearst's castle at San Simeon. You'll be interested to know that the citadel of the long-dead American fascist is in the possession of the state of California-- not the Hearst family or the Hearst Corporation-- and yet there is no mention of the film Citizen Kane on the tour.

Of course Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz's main character Charles Foster Kane in the 1941 picture was based on Hearst, and Kane's "Xanadu" was based on San Simeon, even though the castle of Kane is located upon the spurious "deserts of the gulf coast of Florida." The movie that taught filmmakers how to make movies- and audiences how to watch them-- surely warrants a mention at the site, especially when the tour guide is expounding upon subjects like Hearst's mistress Marion Davies (the film's infamous phrase "Rosebud" was reportedly chosen because it was Hearst's pet name for Davies' clitoris), his media empire, or his vast collection of stolen historic items (what the film's iconic opening "newsreel" refers to as the "loot of the world"). When the guide at San Simeon is telling tales of Charlie Chaplin and Dolores Del Rio cavorting at the tennis courts or in the Neptune pool, she could certainly throw in a reference to the Oscar-winning Mankiewicz, who had been a celebrity visitor there himself during the 1930s when he witnessed many of the real-life scenes that would become iconic additions to the screenplay, such as Davies deciphering jigsaw puzzles on the floor of a vast, mostly-empty room. In the movie, Kane remarks at one point about the castle's grand scale, "I think if you look carefully in the west wing, Susan, you'll find about a dozen vacationists still in residence." Citizen Kane was a vicious assault upon the original residents of Hearst Castle, but what a glittering, towering assault!

Hearst descendants are still able to visit and use the grounds of "the ranch" when they wish to retreat. That was a condition of the estate's transfer of the property to the state in 1957, but shouldn't California (and their millions of taxpayers) be able to demand a presentation of history on their property that is without flagrant omissions. Citizen Kane, after all, is itself a product of California of which its residents can justifiably boast.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My life from A-Z

One of those internet things...

A-Available/Single? Nope
B-Best Friend? We have a standing date every Friday night.
C-Cake or Pie? Definitely pie. The varieties. Cake never excited me.
D-Drink Of Choice? Orange juice is wonderful.
E-Essential Item You Use Everyday? The cable remote.
F-Favorite Color? Red. The color of my baseball team... and my politics.
G-Gummy Bears Or Worms? For G, the author could have asked something like "God exist?" Instead, "Gummy Bears Or Worms?"
H-Hometown? Newhall, Iowa, USA
I-Indulgence? My obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although it might save me as much time as it costs me.
J-January Or February? January is the worst. I'm so glad to be an April birthday, when the hemisphere is coming back to life.
K-Kids and Their Names? My plants are my children. They're named after the Jacksons.
L-Life Is Incomplete Without? Laughter. Wait, does it have to start with L?
M-Marriage Date? September 1. Same date Hitler invaded Poland.
N-Number Of Siblings? 2
O-Oranges Or Apples? Oranges. More fun to peel. They're the new black.
P-Phobias/Fears? Government surveillance.
Q-Favorite Quote? "Outside of a dog, books are a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." Groucho
R-Reason to Smile? My wife.
S-Season? Summer. It's everybody's favorite. But they're such liars.
T-Tag Three or Four People? How did this quiz know exactly how many readers I have?
U-Unknown Fact About Me? Twenty five years ago, I stabbed Lonnie Smith in the eye with the corner of a scorecard.
V-Vegetable you don't like? Cauliflower
W-Worst Habit? Losing perspective.
X-X-rays You've Had? Teeth and chest. Both years ago.
Y-Your Favorite Food? Sushi.
Z-Zodiac Sign? Aries. Shouldn't it be obvious at the point we get to Z?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Gangsters of the Hawkeye State

Is there a connection to Ferguson, Missouri, and the Iowa Department of Transportation's order to municipalities to remove a large percentage of the automated traffic cameras currently blanketing the state, including ones that clock traffic on interstate highways through both Des Moines and Cedar Rapids? The state DOT ruled last week that, with only a few exceptions, these cameras have been ticketing far more drivers than they have prevented accidents, and they must be removed by April 17th.

Earlier this month, the United States Department of Justice released a comprehensive report of its investigation into the Ferguson police department, concluding in part that the city's "law enforcement practices are shaped by the City's focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs." Adding, "this emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes."

The strikingly-similar 'taxation by citation' practices of Iowa cities in regards to traffic patrol have not included a racial bias (as far as we know at this time), but doesn't it make at least some sense that the state of Iowa might begin policing its own police with more vigor after our neighbors to the south become the target of the DOJ? My guess is that the state of Iowa knows that its cities' tactics in regards to plundering us on the roadway are legally indefensible, and the Ferguson verdict is a big reason why. Another big one might be Ferguson-related also-- the important-yet-much-maligned public protests that have flared up in that city over the last year because of police misconduct and patterns of unconstitutional traffic stops.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Letterman Tribute #6


Bob Elliott, one-half of the innovative and iconic Bob and Ray comedy team, celebrates his 92nd birthday tomorrow. He made this appearance on Dave with partner Ray Goulding in the early '80s.

Bob's son, Chris, was Letterman's madcap-in-residence throughout the 1980's, making dozens of appearances. Here's a clip that serves as a representative sample and a current favorite.

Abby Elliott, while serving four seasons on Saturday Night Live, guested on the show as well. She's one of two daughters of Chris and former Late Night talent coordinator Paula Niedert.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Paddy's Day, Dummy

St. Patrick's is definitely not my thing, but I could get behind a holiday promoting my favorite Irishman of all-time-- fictional Dennis Duffy of 30 Rock. Liz Lemon's on-and-off-again boyfriend appears in 13 of the series' episodes. He's an entrepreneur. You might have seen his ad on the 7 train. He was the last beeper salesman in Manhattan (he became the "Beeper King" after the original committed suicide), and he invested in a vending machine for coffee in the basement of the Kmart at 38th and 6th ("You just gotta go downstairs, get the key from David-- BOOM-- you plug in the machine"). His latest idea is like Netflix, "but you go to a store and pick out a video from a limited selection." He was almost the love of Lemon's life.

These are my favorite Dennis Duffy quotes...

Regarding his appearance on To Catch a Predator: 
"I knew that girl was eighteen. She told me that her last boyfriend was Asian, and that crap doesn't start until college."

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Dennis: "I tried to steal beer from a Duane Reade and some black guy cold-cocked me."
Criss: "Like a security guard?"
Dennis: "I don't know, pal. I don't see people that way."

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"Hey, easy with the jacket. It's from Amar'e Stoudamire's evening wear collection."

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"Liz, you remember my fiance, Megan Duffy. Maiden name Duffy. Hopefully no relation."

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Introducing Liz to his adopted son:
Dennis: "Boom. We got Black Dennis"
Liz: "His name is Black Dennis? That is racist"
Dennis: "Yeah, right Liz. The guy with the black son is racist"

Later:
Dennis: "Black Dennis, start the car."

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"You think I'm just going to give up now, huh? I'm a Duffy, Liz. And us Duffys, we didn't give up when we got kicked out of Ireland. We didn't give up when America sent us back, and we didn't give up when Ireland then just set us adrift on a log, all right?"

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"We were both pretty torn up about Hurricane Katrina. What those people did to the Superdome."

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"Hey Criss, there's a lesbo movie on Showtime."
Later:
"You missed the end of the movie. The kid goes back to college, and Mark Ruffalo's just going to do his own thing with the restaurant."

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After being declared a subway hero by "Mayor Bloomburger.":
"That's the Stanley Cup, sweetheart, it's hockey's highest honor. And me and it are teaming up to fight illiteracy."

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On his relationship with Liz:
"I have squatter's rights."

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During the 30 Rock gas leak:
"You called me, Liz. Cuz deep down, you still got all kinds of queer feeling for me. That's why someday I knew you'd be vulnerable from a gas leak or a coma or a super period."

Later:
"If this is going to work out between you and me, you should know my tarantula sleeps on my face... Gas has no effect on me at all. When I was growing up, my school, Gerry Cooney Elementary, it was right next to a gas works in Queens. It ventilated into the cafeteria. We got a big settlement from the city. Our parents voted to spend it on a boat that the families could share, but then that sank. But you know what, I'm still smart enough to know that I'll never do better than you, Liz Lemon, cuz you're a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen, so I'm going to give you one more shot to admit to me that you keep bringing me back into your life for a reason."

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"I can move my stuff in tonight, right? I just have one duffel bag and a sidecar. My motorcycle got impounded for being parked too awesome. I just need you to sign this lease I printed up off the internet."

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Dennis' voicemail message:
"Whazzzupppp?! You've reached Dennis' voicemail. How YOU doing? Get out of here, Joey. I'm recording my voicemail message."

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Liz: "Whose horse is that?"
Dennis: "That's my cousin Teddy's Great Dane. I told him I'd watch him for a couple weeks cause Teddy broke his ankle running from black guys who pulled a gun on him."
Liz: "Why was it important to tell me that the muggers were black?"
Dennis: "They weren't muggers. They were cops."
Liz: "So why don't you just say he was running from some cops?"
Dennis: "I don't know. I mean, you're a racist for assuming they weren't cops."

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And reading from a letter he's written:
"Dear Liz Lemon: While other women have bigger boobs than you, no other woman has as big a heart. When I saw you getting ready to go out and get nailed by a bunch of guys last night, I knew for sure it was over between us, and for the first time since the '86 World Series, I cried... I cried like a big, dumb homo. And if it was up to me, we'd be together forever. But there's a new thing called "women's liberation", which gives you women the right to choose and you have chosen to abort me, and that I must live with. So tonight, when you arrive home, I'll be gone. I officially renounce my squatter's rights."