Dan Thompson, 51, of Canton, Michigan speaks out against health care reform during a town hall meeting. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Kimberly P. Mitchell)
My new Think Again column is “How to ‘Ignore’ and Obsess About a Story Simultaneously.” An alternate title is “The Wingnut Benghazi Fixation and What it Means about Media Bias.”
I wanted to give two quick shout-outs before turning over to Reed. One is to a film I saw at Lincoln Center recently, called “Born in Chicago,” about the largely Jewish local boys who hooked up with Muddy, Wolf, Otis, etc and went on to obscurity. Everybody knows about the British/Chess connection, but since the deaths of Paul Butterfield and the enormously charismatic Michael Bloomfield, these guys have been largely forgotten. The screening I saw had a panel hosted by my buddy Bob Merlis, and featured Marshall Chess and Barry Goldberg, who after disappearing for a long time, has recently resurfaced musically with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd for a band called The Ride. Golberg was also instrumental in getting this wonderful documentary made and I hope it screens far and wide. It really is a lost history. There was a nice Times write up here. And you can read more about Bloomfield and Goldberg in Ben Sidran’s terrific and tragically obscure, There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream.
Also, there’s a comic book about John Lewis, the Congressman/civil rights leader, not the MJQ guy. It’s kind of a crazy idea. Well, ok, call it a “graphic novel.” It’s called “March: Book One,” and it’s published by the very cute Top Shelf Productions, and you can read about it here.
The Gums of August: How Angry Town Halls Mesmerize the Media and Distort Debate
by Reed Richardson
Welcome to the yelling season.
Every year, Congress goes into recess in late summer and members trundle back home to their districts and states for a break from their not-so-grueling three-day work weeks in Washington. Lately, however, even these notional vacations have proven to be anything but. Thanks to a small, vocal minority, the longstanding Congressional tradition of holding informative, respectful town halls during August has morphed into a much coarser ritual, one where US Representatives and Senators are routinely targeted for bilious rants and incoherent ramblings. The underlying intent of all this bumping of gums and gnashing of teeth isn’t engaged discourse; it’s disruptive grandstanding.