March 20, 2015

American Geniuses

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

crop of Mik Zint

“Magician, the Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles” is a new documentary film that tells the story of the fellow who made radio history and classic films, and was very much underappreciated while doing those things. Welles was a very innovative movie maker and is credited with inspiring the creation of the wide angle lens for “Citizen Kane.”

By pure coincidence, the additional material on a DVD of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” had alerted us to the fact that Howard Hughes had many things in common with Orson Welles. Hughes was born fabulously wealthy and he never developed a reverence for money and the need to budget wisely. Welles never seemed to have had a conservative approach to fiscal matters. He claimed that on his first night in Dublin Ireland, he spent all his travel money on a lavish meal. Embellishing a story for dramatic effect seems to be a likely modus operandi for a fellow who was noted for a great sense of theatricality.

Hughes was (perhaps) the only Hollywood film director to be honored with a tickertape parade down Broadway in New York City. He received that honor for setting a record for an around the world flight.

Welles was given a lifetime achievement Oscar.

Both men were notorious for their love lives.

Hughes was an aviation pioneer and a celebrated film maker but he also was responsible for some very practical achievements such as introducing retractable landing gear on airplanes. It was an innovation which dramatically increased their speed. His companies made technical innovations which had a beneficial effect on weapons and thus he improved the quality of America’s ability to wage war. His contributions to technology and aviation, which made modern drone strikes possible, was not fully communicated to the American public which dwelled on his flamboyant public image and his impact on that facet of society that thrives on gossip column items.

Welles burst on the New York theater scene already a legend. He had barely passed voting age when he feuded with Hemingway over the narration of a documentary film about the Spanish Civil War.

Part of the Welles legend is that his radio broadcast based on H. G. Wells’ (no relation/different spelling) novel about an invasion from Mars caused mass panic and traffic gridlock. Newspaper articles stating that fact are plentiful but skeptics who wonder if that was just an example of Hollywood ballyhoo are hard pressed to find some citizen who can provide eyewitness descriptions of the alleged example of mass hysteria. Skeptical reporters are advised to always avoid fact checking the legend.

Back then, people were encouraged to get diverse points of view. People who tuned into the Welles broadcast and switched stations to get a different set of facts quickly learned that the other radio networks were presenting the usual Sunday evening smorgasbord of comedy.

A column about American geniuses must note that this week, in San Francisco, it was reported by KCBS news radio that St. Mary’s Cathedral would have to pay to remove the sprinkler system it had installed to soak the homeless sleeping in their doorways, because they had made the “improvement” without getting a building permit. Wouldn’t it have been quicker and more efficient if the bishop had just gone out and urinated on them?

To cynics, it seems that America’s “War on Poverty” has become a war on the poor.

When we asked the Berkeley homeless activist Ninja Kitty if a (formerly) homeless person had ever been elected to Congress, didn’t he respond by saying: “There’s a first time for everything!”?

It used to be that exit polls were credited with pin-point accuracy, but lately they don’t seem to be very reliable at all. Time after time results contradict the exit polls. With that in mind, we predict that Karl Rove’s greatest behind the scenes achievement in American Politics is yet to be achieved. Wouldn’t the reestablishment of the Bush Dynasty be Rove’s greatest triumph?

“Magician” is a Cliff’s Notes style documentary film that will inform the people who are not aware of Welles’ story about the life of a genius and it will also give established Welles fans a new chance to hear his voice and see film sequences which give tantalizing hints about his magnetism and charm.

Clifford Irving wrote a book about a fellow who was very successful painting and selling counterfeit works of art. Irving also wrote a bogus Howard Hughes autobiography.

One of Welles’ many film projects was “F is for Fake,” which included a segment about Clifford Irving.

Now the disk jockey will play Orson Welles’ rendition (it’s on Youtube) of “I know what it is to be young (You don’t know what it is to be old),” Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame, Boys” (conspiracy theory folks assert it was dubbed) and the theme music from “The Third Man.” We have to go fact check the rumor that the Pacific Film Archive will open its new Berkeley home with a tribute to the films of Orson Wells. Have a “Rosebud” type week.



May 31, 2011

Say “Goodbye!” to the Social Security Program?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:42 pm

People who have been fleeced by swindlers often had soaring moments of euphoria, based on expectations of “easy money,” right before they experienced the OMG “The Money’s gone!” revelation that “things aren’t what they seem.” The Sixties philosophy of “Don’t harsh my bliss” might be used to avoid any mention this week of the potential for future dangers of the results from the electronic voting machines because good manners would require most conspiracy theory lunatics to let the Democrats revel in their moment of ecstasy. [Wasn’t there a Roman politician who while he rode to his coronation, had a fellow reminding him that “this too shall pass!”?] That would be rude and we won’t touch that topic . . . the hell we won’t !

It might not be very polite to point out that if the results of the New York 26th Congressional District’s special election cause the Democrats to bet everything on that issue in the 2012 elections; it will be too late to object if the results, which can not be contested, produce what appears to be a massive nationwide repudiation of health care (and by extension the Social Security program itself).

Did acting rashly get Gen. Custer into trouble? Should the Democrats read up on the philosophy of an ambush before going “all in” on Medicare?

Brad Friedman has worked relentlessly to bring the issue of the reliability of the electronic voting machines to the attention of the voters who belong to the Democratic Party and if America gets hustled into a humiliating “winner take all” contest in 2012, the “I tried to warn you” bragging rights will be of little consolation to him and other sincere partisan political pundits if he gets the rights to express that sentiment.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will, if the Democrats get skinned alive by the 2012 election results, will have his reaction measured on the Nihilism Meter (which measures from one to ten shrugs of the shoulders) and turn his attention to other topics.

Has Banksy been active in the Berkeley CA area recently?

In his book “Profoundly Disturbing Shocking Movies that Changed History!,” Joe Bob Brigs reports that the film “Ilsa She Wolf of the SS” the lead character, Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne), was based on the real life historical figure of a woman named Ilsa Kohler Koch. Is she related to some Americans who have been dabbling in philanthropy and political causes recently?

John Wayne teamed up with actress Marlene Dietrich for three movies in the early Forties. One of them, “Seven Sinners,” was a tale of life in the South Pacific and we are desperately seeking a chance to see that movie. Is it on VHS? Would that be one of the films shown as part of the Forbidden Island Monthly Monday Night Cult Movies series in Alameda?

Speaking of John Wayne, we’ve watched a number of Western movies on Video tape recently, and have noted that they almost always feature a speech with a hero elaborating on America’s principals of honesty, fair play, and a code of conduct using the principle of chivalry for the treatment of captured enemy soldiers.

We are waiting for some politician to give a stirring speech in Congress reminding America that the country holds itself to a higher level of principles than those exemplified by the Inquisition, Genghis Kahn (of “Citizen Kahn” fame?), and the Gestapo. We have abandoned hope for such a Frank Capra moment to occur in Washington D. C.

The World’s Laziest Journalist isn’t being paid to shill for the Democratic Party and so we feel free to continue our criticism of the Bush war crimes even if they are being embraced by his Democratic Party successor.

Advocating human rights for people suspected of conducting terrorist activities is as outdated and antediluvian as it would be to suggest that the Hayes code be reinstated.

In the 1940 movie “Dark Command,” directed by Raoul Walsh starring John Wayne, the script writer just had to inject some political propaganda and have a character assert that the Civil War was about cheap labor and not over the South’s campaign to continue the efforts of America’s founding fathers to administer the Constitution’s establishment of state’s rights. Is it any wonder that soon after that Congress had to hold hearings to reveal to the voters how communists were infiltrating America’s pop culture to sway their thinking?

Partisan political commentators must always follow the party line but curmudgeonly columnist critics of contemporary culture don’t have to be so boringly predictable. They can, if they choose, vacillate between liberal and conservative from one paragraph to the next. If the net result is to make readers stop and think about what the columnist is trying to say; that may be a clever way to lure readers into starting to think for themselves and not letting Fucks News do it for them.

When George W. Bush first announced his intention of using combat soldiers to bring democracy to Iraq, did any of the critics on the Left think that by 2012 the Democratic Party would be adhering to most of the aspects of the Bush administration methodology such as an attack on Libya without any Congressional approval (or debate even) or torture or attempts to straighten out the Social Security “mess”? Are we there yet?

If the Democrats go “all in” with the Medicare Issue and the results are a Republican landslide, will FDR’s New Deal then be as much of a quaint anachronism as is Howard Hughes’ movie “The Outlaw”? Will the Democrats then still consider critics of the electronic voting machines as conspiracy theory lunatics . . . or prophets?

According to Steven Bach, in his book “Marlene Dietrich Life and Legend,” (page 292) the actress during a radio broadcast to boost troop morale for the Allies, suddenly adlibbed this line: “Jungs! Opfert euch nicht! Der krieg ist doch Scheisse, Hitler ist ein Idiot!” It took Americans a short time to realize that reducing the German’s morale level was as desirable a goal as was boosting the spirits of the American soldiers.

Now the disk jockey will play “See What the Boys in the Backroom Are Having,” “Please, Mr. Custer,” and John Wayne’s version (from “The Quiet Man”) of “Wild Colonial Boy.” We have to go see if we can locate a VHS copy of “Destry Rides Again.” Have a “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (Didn’t he get fired at the 1940 Oscar™ Awards?) type week.

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