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Bring the Crazy... | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Bring the Crazy...

Wrapup: I've got a new Think Again called "Media Ethics: 'So Last Century'"

Also, two Alter-recommendations: The Ghosts of Flatbush adocumentary about the Brooklyn Dodgers running on HBO but also rentable,is one the greatest documentaries I've ever seen. I also very muchenjoyed Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 which I rented from Netflix.Also, there are two bio-docs out about Bruce Springsteen, in which Iappear. The one that is running on the Biography channel is OK. I amused mostly to talk about Bruce's childhood, rather than the music, onwhich I am apparently an insufficient authority. The second one, whichis available commercially, is 150 minutes long and from what I canremember from the interviews, ought to be pretty erudite. You can readabout that one here. I'll review it when I get it.

Pierce is early this week:

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc:

"I want to be misunderstood/Just want to be feared in myneighborhood."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Voodoo Woman" (Big Chief MonkBoudreaux) -- Once again this week, I neglected to reprogram the malfunctioningcomputers in Glenn Beck's humanity to make him weep for how much I loveNewOrleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: God, I know that Ricky says he's your friend,but weused to be pretty close, so, if it's OK with You, can You please makethishappen?If You don't, You don't love me enough.

Part The Second: Yes, ma'am, the senator would like to speak withyou. Unfortunately, you appear to be a moron.Here's a nice souvenir pen. Try not to take your eye out with it.

Part The Third: Sorry, Michael, but any piece on this topic that does not contain the words "Harry Dent" is not worth mytime.

Part The Fourth: In case you've been waiting for the perfectblend ofBeltway Brain Candy--"Hey, you got your smug in my stupid!" "No, you gotyour stupid on my smug!" -- well, have at it.Apparently, if enough people think you're not funny, you really are. (Ifa couple dozenpeople pelted him with eggs in the morning, he'd think he was RichardPryor.) Elsewhere at Ye Olde House Of Mulch For Brains, thiswould be a lot more compelling if it hadn't been written by this guy. Scroll downfor the real fun.

Part The Fifth: Waldo got into the Sterno again this week. Crazypeople snuck in. "I realized that Palin's shrewdly timed metaphor spokedirectly to theelectorate's unease with the prospect of shadowy, unelected governmentfigures controlling our lives. A death panel not only has the power oflifeand death but is itself a symptom of a Kafkaesque brave new world whereauthority has become remote, arbitrary and spectral. And as in theSpanishInquisition, dissidence is heresy, persecuted and punished." Yeah,that'sit, Camille. I put the over/under number on words in that passage aboutwhich Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods has not the faintest clue ateight. (I went back and forth on "spectral" before I realized sheprobablythinks it's the senator from Pennsylvania.) Any takers?

Part The Last: Folks at Netroots Nation can see me talk about thebook in the exhibit hall Friday at about 12:50 p.m.

In 45 years of watching presidents--Dad took me to see Lyndon zipby in a motorcade back in '64 -- this is the first time I ever saw anyoneanywhere near a presidential appearance who was packing and didn't havea badge. The general equanimity with which this was handled was flatlybizarre. More people got worked up by the faker in Missouri whosustained a vicious slip-and-fall and then anincomprehensible relapse the next day that put him in a wheelchair. Someone was at a presidential appearancewith a gun. And he was proudly wearing it outside his pants, for all thehonest world to see. (RIP, Townes). Forget the president for a minute.What if this cluck decides that he doesn't much like the folks gatheredthere who are on the other side ofthe issue from him? This is the cult of the NRA gone completely insane.Whynot just let folks bring their Legally Licensed Firearms into thecongressional gallery while we're at it? Or onto airplanes?

You couldn't get within two miles of the last guy if you had aplacard reading, "We Think Your War Ill-Advised, Sir." People gotroustedat rallies for wearing uncomplimentary T-shirts. This happened to credentialed journalists at theRepublican convention a year ago. But this guy gets to stand there,visibly strapped, and wave his signabout the tree of liberty and the blood of patriots, and people justtakeit all as business as usual. He even gets a spot on Hardball, duringwhichhe appears to want a gold star for not capping anyone's ass whilesoundinglike Jim (The Cruise) . Idon't care what New Hampshire law says, this was nuts. And it's agodawfulprecedent.

Name: Merrill R. Frank
Hometown: Jackson Heights, NYC

In a more sane media culture and political environment a cablecommentator who calls for thepoisoning death of the Speaker of the House would be suspended or firedby their network as well as have a friendly visit called upon him by theFBI and Secret Service.

Intrepid author/blogger Dave Neiwert correctly refers to Beck and hisrabble as "Eliminationists" basically a lunatic fringeof people who refuse to engage in debate and seek to have the other sideremoved from society or killed.

You figure in a country with a history of political assassinations,both attempted and real this stuff would not go unnoticed especiallywhen the speaker of the house comes from a city where in 1978 themayor and supervisor were assassinated by crazed fellow supervisorDan White, a guy with views not far removed from Mr. Beck. Though intoday's culture if Mr. White were alive he would be an honored gueston Beck's show yucking it up while sharing a Twinkie.

Name: Tim Burga
Hometown: Dallas, TX

Ben Jenkins should be more careful when declaring Gates-gate to be anopen and shut case. The 911 caller did not speak directly to Crowley;she spoke to a call taker, who then relayed the information to aradio dispatcher, who then relayed the info to Crowley. Any one ofthe individuals involved may have inadvertently (or otherwise) addedthe details about the suspect's race. If the dispatch audio tapes--not the 911 tapes--have not been released, proving that Crowleyadded the details about race is impossible.

Name: Ed Dufilho
Hometown: Arlington, TX

As a Louisiana native and a fan of Charles Pierce, I had to laugh outloud at the thought of a healthcare campaign led by Huey Long. Canyou imagine the bloody trail of opponents he would have left in hiswake? I can see him rolling on the floor of his suite in theRoosevelt Hotel in helpless laughter. He'd tear James Inhofe so manynew ones he could blow in his mouth and play him like a flute.

Name: Ed Tracey
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

While our friends in Argentina's military dictatorship of the 1970's-80's had their hands full rounding up trade unionists, students andleftists: apparently they weren't so busy that they overlookedbanning 200 pop and rock songs of the era, according to recentlydeclassified documents. Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Ian Dury, Queen ....hey, even Donna Summer were deemed unacceptable for the citizenry.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/06/argentina-junta-banned-songs-pop/print

I would have to disqualify myself, however, from sitting in judgmentof the junta on this grave matter. I fear I would be too susceptibleto pleas for leniency, were his attorneys to remind me that GeneralGaltieri also banned Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Name: David Durham
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN

I first became aware of Mott The Hoople via In Concert and TheMidnight Special. Back then it was all about guitars and my buds andI thought the 'H' guitar was really cool. All The Young Dudes was thefirst of their albums I picked up. I wore it out. At this time I wasliving in the south and Southern rock was king, but I was moreintrigued with what was happening in Europe. Bands like Genesis, RoxyMusic and Pink Floyd (Pre-Darkside) were really pushing the limitsand I responded to this radicalism in a big way. Some friends and Idrove the hundred miles to see Mott at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in1974. Queen opened for them. Now I had been raised in L.A. beforemoving to Chattanooga, TN in '72 and was perhaps a bit more worldlythan my companions so the actual queens in attendance didn't freak meout , but did make my buds a bit uncomfortable. I felt acceptance ofweirdness was a mark of hipness and told them to like 'mellow outman'. To their credit they did. We all loved the show. The followingMonday we were back at our high school talking up the show andsomeone commented, "Ian Hunter's a fag man, didn't you know that?"One of my friends who'd gone with me, and was not someone you'ddescribe as particularly enlightened, said, "Well he may be a fag,but he can rock!" Now I don't know what Mr. Hunter's sexualorientation is and don't care, but to this day, I can't think of abetter compliment one could bestow on him.

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