Thursday, September 27, 2007

Protest Poetry

I'm sensing that, as both the brutality of the endless war and people's sense of powerlessness increase, the dissent that falls on deaf ears in the political arena finds its way into art. Case in point: two excellent recent poems in two different periodicals. "Pan" by Stuart Dybek and "Driving Home" by Charles Simic. If you read the poems, let me know what you think.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lewis Black on Emmys

I didn't watch the whole award show, but I did catch Lewis Black's routine. He cleverly couched his most radical statements in some less subversive comments, and censors obviously didn't realize that, they let him do his thing. I hear that they did bleep Sally Field (on Fox?) for her anti-war comments during her acceptance speech. Anybody has more details and perhaps a clip of Lewis' performance?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I recently watched Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" on DVD, and then, masochistically, I went to the theater to see another post-Katrina documentary, called "Kamp Katrina." The first one is four hours of "what, when, who" and especially relentlessly "how and why" with numerous oral histories of ordinary people, experts, officials, celebrities. "Kamp Katrina" features none of the fore-mentioned categories of people. Instead, it's all about extraordinaries, starting from Ms. Pearl, a woman of many costumes, who sets up a camp for the homeless Katrina survivors in her backyard, fourteen of them at one point. The survivors are what Jon Dee Graham would describe as strugglers: seriously down-on-their-luck (even pre-Katrina) sufferers of addictions, mental illnesses, abusers and the abused... Later on, on the bus back to my place, the catalog of strugglers continued, this time up close: the beyond-tired proletariat in dirty work clothes filled up the seats, and the bus ride ended up with a monologue of a very troubled young guy straight out of Cook county jail, not wearing a shirt really, putting the laces back into his shoes while complaining about not having a girlfriend and being depressed.

Macedonian Splendor

While in Cleveland last month, I read "Macedonia: What does it take to stop a war," a recent comic book by Cleveland's own Harvey Pekar. He co-wrote it with Heather Roberson, and Ed Piskor drew it. Unlike "American Splendor," it's not about Harvey. It's about this Berkeley peace studies student who goes to Macedonia to study peace. More precisely, Heather goes to Macedonia to collect evidence to support her thesis that war is not only not unpreventable, but that conflicted parties avoid wars all the time around the world. It's just that peace is not photogenic, while wars and genocides make the headlines. Which reminds me of an old Top Lista Nadealista (Bosnian Monty Python) fake-news skit in which breaking news is: "this just in: peace keeps breaking out all over Yugoslavia!" And the skit was funny and sad because it was filmed as armed conflicts were breaking out and Yugoslavia was sinking into horror. But, at the same time, the southernmost part of Yugoslavia, known as Macedonia, stayed peaceful, though rife with ethnically-based conflicts, which did escalate in 2001, but nevertheless the country has always managed to keep all-out war at bay.