Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books Week

Last night I went to the Banned Book week read-aloud at the Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe here in Glens Fall & was quite enjoyable. Its important to call attention to this because so many Americans are completely oblivious that stuff like this is alive & well in good ol' "free" America.

According to one of the lists brought to the gathering, I was quite proud (in that twisted sorta way) that the entire Harry Potter series has been the most heavily challenged book in the entire 2000 decade. Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickle & Dimed" was banned somewhere in PA because "it promotes economic fallacies and drug use." Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" recently rose UP the charts & banned because of "offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group." Any number of Judy Blumes remain banned at any given time. & how could we NOT ban Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" (said w/ sarcasm). I discovered there's a certain lyricism to the work when read aloud that I never picked up on before. Might have to revisit it at some point in the future.

Here's the list if you wish to see what are the most challenged/banned this past decade or the top 10 in 2009.

This gathering also brought up some questions that I never thought to have considered. Banned Book Week was started by the American Library Association, yet so many libraries themselves simply don't acknowledge book banning or the event(s). It wouldn't surprise me in the least that they don't want to be seen as political & thus come under attack & thus lose taxpayer dollars due to community outrage. Its a shame.

Anyway, I brought Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" mostly because it is a work that A. I actually owned & B. was a work that is still heavily banned in many places.

Its most notable banning was in Nazi Germany in 1933 & was publicly burned along w/ the rest of Remarque's works (sound familiar?). The Nazis produced propaganda claiming he was a descendant of French Jews, a claim that many biographies still perpetuate despite the lack of evidence.

I also chose the following passage because in my opinion it does a decent job reflecting what's going on in our society, specifically of those who have answered the call to fight. The more things change, the more they remain the same:

There are rumors of an offensive. We go up to the front two days earlier than usual. On the way we pass a shelled school house. Stacked up on its longer side is a high double wall of yellow, unpolished, brand-new coffins. They still smell of resin, pine, & the forest. There are at least a hundred of them.

"That's a good preparation for an offensive," said Mueller astonished.

"They're for us," growls Detering.

"You be thankful if you get so much as a coffin," grins Tjaden, "they'll slip you a waterproof sheet for your old Aunt Sally of a carcase."

The others jest too, unpleasant jests, but what else can a man do? - The coffins are really for us. The organization surpasses itself in that kind of thing.

Ahead of us everything is shimmering. The first night we try to get our bearings. When it is fairly quiet we can hear the transports behind the enemy lines rolling ceaselessly until dawn. Kat says they do not go back but are bring up troops - troops, munitions, & guns.

The English artillery has been strengthened, that we can detect at once. There are at least 4 batteries of 9-inch guns to the right of the farm & behind the poplars they put in trench mortars. Besides these they brought up a night of those French beasts with instaneous fuses.

We are in low spirits. After we have been in the dug-out for two hours our own shells begin to fall in the trench. This is the third time in four weeks. If it were simply a mistake in aim no one would say anything, but the truth is the barrels are worn out. The shots are so often so uncertain that they land within our own lines. To-night two of our men were wounded by them.

In other news...

This here is Jenny.

It was great working w/ her because she had this theater background where you could just give her some general directions & she'd completely go to town w/ it. People like that make my job easy. It also didn't hurt that the rapport I depend on was near instantaneous. This is unusual for a first time working w/ someone new.


Feel free & comment away on any part of this if you so desire.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Campaign Ads

Sometimes I think I'm the only person alive who is actually enjoys election campaign commercials.

Its a form of entertainment! The deep sinister music. The deep Darth Vader'esque voice overs. The righteous indignation. The distortions. The blanket lies.

Course I'm one of those people that KNOWS that both sides distort the facts & take it as such. George W Bush (or Obama for that matter) is in no way shape or form remotely like Hitler.

& why is it always Hitler? How come Stalin, Mao, & Mussolini never get any despot love from the angered masses? Take Mussolini, he was so pathetically sinister he had to invade a backward African country to fulfill his delusions of a Neo-Roman ruler. Stalin purged & executed (what?) 25 million of his own people. & Mao! Didn't like 50 million of his people die IN PEACETIME to do his horrendous farming policies. Sorry but it takes a special kind of despot to kill that many when a war isn't going on.

In other news...

This here is my friend Heather. In case you haven't noticed, she's playing in her window frame.


Feel free to comment away on any part of this blog if you so choose.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pericles versus Remarque

The 9th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks have come & gone. I was going to tell about a young buck's appreciation (bordering on fealty) for my military service & my discomfort w/ being called a "hero" but I've decided to go a different route.

I'm sure there will be writers/speechwriters/yappists proclaiming the honorable & noble sacrifices provided by the people of that day. It'll take a familiar tact: remembering our forefathers, the uniqueness of our way of life, the speaker/writer/yappist's humbleness on such a solemn occasion, remembering the honored dead & urging the living to emulate those who perished. Pericles & Lincoln would be familiar w/ these themes.

Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, disagreed w/ Pericles (a significant plot point in a debate w/ the main character's school teacher). Remarque's experience through the fictionalized main character Baumer, was one of monotonous life at the front, the constant threat from artillery fire, the complete disconnect between him & the civilians on the outside, & most importantly the complete randomness of life & death.

& what of this 9th anniversary thing?

I can see both sides of this. You'd WANT to think those 2500+ that perished in the towers (plus the god knows how many casualties elsewhere) were killed to give their deaths meaning. But at the same time I'm sure the untold millions who fell on small pieces of real estate like the Somme, Dogger Bank, Caporetto, Jutland, Verdun, the Marne the Falklands, Salonika, Meuse-Argonne, & Gallipoli (to name a brief few) might disagree about if their deaths were worth it.

I also hear people chant the jingoistic, "Never forget! Never forget!" in relation to the 9/11 attacks but will we? We've certainly forgotten or perverted such "never forget" days like June 6th or November 11th or December 7th or July 1-3 or April 14th or November 22nd. I don't see why we'd all of a sudden things would change now.

Its easier for people to justify their sacrifices if they actually know WHY they're fighting. Unfortunately, we the American public were initially told we're fighting to "keep the world safe for democracy"...err, I mean "keeping the world safe from terrorism". Then we were told its because so & so "presents a clear & present danger" to America. Then the public was told we're fighting to liberate other people.

Does anyone but me think this is a load of horse manure? We haven't honored the memory of the dead, we've perverted it.

In order to have their sacrifices mean something, there has to be some sort of benefit no matter how horrible the notion they may have arisen.

We're involved in 2 separate wars, one forced into it, the other by choice. We've wasted untold billions trying to win said wars when no one can remotely come to a consensus of what "winning" actually means. Because we're at war & need an enemy, we've started fighting amongst ourselves. It started w/ anyone who disagreed w/ the viewpoints of those in power, then shifted to minority groups simply wishing for equal rights UNDER THE LAW, then it shifted to immigrant groups (legal status was an inconvenient detail to many), then it shifted to ones belief structure.

I'd almost think we all lost our heads but then I open my proverbial US History text book. Muslims are today's scapegoat, I get that. Before that it was gays, before that it was woman *gasp* wanting equal pay for equal work, before that it was the blacks, before that it was the Commies, before that it was the yellow-belly Japs, before that it was scourge of organized labor, before that it was the Italian plague, before that it was the uncivilized Indians getting in our way, before that it was Johnny Reb (or Billy Yank depending on where you lived), before that it was the damn Irish, & so on & so forth.

Again I ask, were the sacrifice of 9/11 worth it?

Make no mistake, I'm not a lovey-dovey peace at all costs kinda person. There are some fights worth fighting.

But w/ this one, I think we blew it on HOW we've chosen to fight the good fight. I think its beyond salvage. Its like being down 42-0 at the end of a (American) football game's first quarter but the odds of that are borderline nil. There's nothing wrong w/ cutting ones losses & approaching it from a fresh angle. But oh wait, we'd be a "cut & runner" which is another overally simplistic, jingoistic, perverted idea.

I honestly believe we are worse off now than the year or so after 9/11. At least then we didn't attack go after our own like rabid dogs. At least then our disagreements didn't hinder us from getting stuff done.

Maybe I'm delusional idealist. Maybe the deep seated, hysterical racism was always there & me w/ my rose-colored glasses never saw it this way before.

If so & we are unable to control our emotions, shucking reason & logic aside, & giving into our hate & fear, we as American have already lost & we're to stupid to even know it.

In other news...

This here is Lorraine, shot back when I was in Boston. She had this acting background that completely made my job as a photographer easy.


Feel free to comment if you so desire.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tea Party and Tom Joad

Came across some self-professed Tea-party enthusiast showing a Rage Against the Machine performance covering "Ghosts of Tom Joad". He encouraged us to emulate RATM & express our anger towards our government.

Its been close to 3 years since I took my "Politics in Springsteen" elective but from what I remember of the album (as well as the song), I do not remotely recall it being about expressing anger & discontent towards anyone, let alone our government. Did a quick reference check & sure enough my suspicions were correct. The prevailing themes of the song entail hopeless, poverty, depression, hunger, & homelessness to name a few.

I ask for a clarification in how expressing ones anger towards the government remotely relates to that song? I ask because for the life of me, I am not getting that kind of message from those lyrics. I asked also because (giving them the benefit of the doubt) rock music is hardly known for its accurate lyrical interpretations. Whether its Liz Phair discussing her "secret beauty routine"; or the GOP misappropriating Springsteen's "Born in the USA" in 1984 thinking it was an uplifting song to be proud of; or the delightfully raunchiness of the Who's "Squeezebox".

The response accused me of "being an ideologue & lacking intelligence". Its a response I fully expected but, as mentioned earlier, I like to at least TRY & give people the benefit of the doubt. If they weave their own noose, that's their prerogative.

That's unfortunately one of the many problems w/ discourse today. Everyone's shouting at each other, assuming that volume alone equals merit. No coherent message. No leadership. No attempt at understanding your opponent's perspective (if for nothing else than to counter their arguments).

Its more like a gaggle.

"Let's get together & be angry. It'll change things." Expressing ones anger is all well & good but its one step a very long & time consuming process. If you want the change bad enough, you have to spend the time doing the grunt work. Unfortunately, most people aren't willing to get their hands dirty.

Whatever, life goes on.

In other news...

This here is Ivory, yet another gracious participant in my Abandonment Adventure series.

I remember this being a tough shoot, more so because of the life issues on my end that I was dealing w/ at the time. She's a good person & am still glad I went through w/ it.


Feel free & comment away if you so desire.