October 4, 2013

Dionysian vs. Apollonian

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:31 pm

What’s not to love about a split window V-dub van that’s been convertible-ized?

The penalty for reading Combat newspaper was death.

The writers, who provided content for the underground newspaper that reported information about the Resistance to citizens in occupied Paris, if caught, were tortured in such a precise way that they would beg for a coup de grâce to deliver them from their prolonged agony.

Richard C. Blum was featured in a recent issue of the East Bay Express in a story titled “Going Postal” that was touted on the front page with this teaser:  “The husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein has been selling post offices to his friends, cheap.”

That’s the same fellow who has been reported to be a driving force behind the Bullet Train that, according to recent polls, most California tax payers don’t want.

Since Senator Dianne Feinstein is currently leading a drive to define journalists as salaried people on the staffs of mainstream media and thus are on an “approved” list, (i.e. collaborators?) and since we don’t want to be appear on the lady’s s**t list, this column will be a review of the new movie “Rush,” which isn’t about the miracle working conservative pundit (soon to be officially canonized?) some folks call St. Rushbo.  It is a new movie about Formula One racing and that should be an innocuous enough topic for someone who doesn’t meet the Senator’s standards for superior journalism or, as some might call it, journalistic exceptionalism.

In 1966, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held an exhibition that featured Formula One race cars.  The spectacle of art aficionados walking around the silent machines talking in reverent whispers was a travesty of racing and a parody of the concept of a museum exhibition.

One particular spectator had to struggle for self control and refrain from screaming:  “Gentlemen, start your engines!”  (In 1966, Danica Patrick hadn’t even been born yet.  [For all of October, her Go Daddy race car will be pink to help raise breast cancer awareness.])  Quite is for funeral homes.  Anyone who has ever been in the pit area of a Grand Prix knows that the noise is palpable.  There’s no whispering at a Grand Prix.

[If you are in a band that is generating an extreme amount of audience enthusiasm and you want to speak to your bandmate, don’t try to shout over the noise.  Put a finger (yes, the middle finger works best) behind you pal’s ear and speak in a normal voice.  The sound waves will travel through your bones and be transferred to his skull and inner ear and he will hear you perfectly well.]

Film director Ron Howard got it right.  The engine noise in “Rush” deserves a credit for supporting role.  (Is that a subtle way of saying the sound men deserve a Nomination?)

The question “Is this the best car racing movie every made” will be discussed for many years to come.  Obviously some hypotheticals will spice up the debate.  If (big hypothetical) Elvis could have played the role of Clay Regazzoni and added some songs to the soundtrack album, it would have been even better, but critics have to deal with what was on the screen and not the realm of woulda/coulda/shoulda.  Doesn’t Monte Carlo need a theme song that’s just as upbeat as “Viva Las Vegas”?

What about the folks who don’t go nutty over cars?  The book crowd might want to discuss the possibility that this film is a classic example of the literary device known as “twinning.”  The film raises an age old philosophical question:  which is better: the spontaneous (Dionysian) approach to life or the careful and methodically planned (Apollonian) method?  Who said:  “Spontaneity works well if it’s planned right!”?

In the film Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) battle for the 1976 world championship for driving.  Lauda’s whole life is channeled towards achieving his goal; Hunt believes that life is an opportunity to maximize the number of ways to have fun.  (“Take it easy baby, specialize in having fun  . . .”)

Watching the film we noticed that the cinematographer’s work might earn a Best Photography Oscar™ nomination, which, in turn, made us think that “Rush” may be a serious contender for several different Awards next spring.

That, in turn, made us wonder if the Oscar™ Awards ceremony had changed much since we covered the ones for 1974 and 1975.  Back then getting a press pass was a Herculean task of the myth of Sisyphus level of challenge.  Odds are, it is much more difficult now.

The “Going Postal” article, which is a condensation of a chapter in a new book of the same name by Peter Bryce, exemplifies the kind of journalism that is displayed annually in the series of books published by Project Censorship.

Censored 2014:  Fearless Speech in Fearful Times goes on sale this week and the Censored Team will appear at Moe’s Books in Berkeley CA on the night of October 5, 2013.

Doing an article comparing and contrasting the 2013 Oscars™ with the events we witness back in the Seventies would not get any serious consideration from the evaluating committee at Project Censored, but . . . it would be hella fun, “n’est ce pas?”

Do the writers, whose work will be presented in the next edition of the Project Censorship series, also get the Dianne Feinstein Journalism seal of approval?

Would a whimsical article examining a thirty nine year gap in Oscar™ history, as an example of nostalgia laden coverage of the movie awards, be more likely to get a prize from the Dianne Feinstein Journalism Awards committee than from Project Censored?  There’s one sure way to find out.

Some cynics will say that since James Hunt was both very wealthy and very good looking, it was almost inevitable that he would enjoy living and that others who were not dealt such a good hand would have grounds for envy, but the sad thing about that is that the people who most need to learn Hunt’s “go for the gusto” approach to life, are the ones most likely to be diverted by resentment instead.  Didn’t we read somewhere that Summerset Maugham’s father was an ugly fellow who was married to the most beautiful woman in Paris?

Since we covered the 1974 and 1975 events as a reporter/photographer for the Santa Monica Independent Journal newspapers, and since the guy who helped us get that job is now a senior editor at Playboy, perhaps we could augment a trip to L. A. to cover the awards ceremony with a chance to revisit the Playboy mansion and trade some journalism gossip with the former editor of the Marina Mail.

Heck, if we get back down to “Shakey Town,” maybe we could visit the Marina Tenants Association and find out what’s up with the Los Angeles County Assessor.  The mainstream media is ignoring that intriguing story.  Did we just hear Fienstein’s voice saying:  “Good boy!  Want a treat?”?  Aren’t journalists who can “heel!” on command, worth their salary?  How can we submit a story pitch for possible inclusion in Project Censored’s book for the overlooked news from 2013?

Question for both of California’s Senators:  Why haven’t the Democrats who live in Tea Bag Republican Congressional Districts already started recall petitions for their representatives who seem oblivious to the wants and needs of their constituents?

Will older pundits compare the shutdown to the Chickie run sequence in “Rebel without a Cause” rather than the mandatory (?) reference to the film “Thelma and Louise”?

Are the approved journalists and pundits giving the voters a heads-up about what will happen if the impasse lasts until the 2014 mid-term elections?  If the situation disintegrates into a prolonged Mexican standoff, will the paid lackeys in the mainstream media dutifully report that this is a marvelous example of a democracy in action?

If Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and the others who risked their lives to provide content for Combat got a paycheck wouldn’t the existence of that slip of paper have been the equivalent of a death warrant?  If they didn’t; wouldn’t Senator Feinstein dismiss their efforts as useless examples of pathetic amateur scribbling?  Since possession of a copy of Combat was a capital offense, we wonder how often a mint condition issue is available on e-Bay and how much one usually fetches.

[Note from the photo editor:  Over the years the WLJ photo library with quality images of Phil Hill, John Surtees, and Dan Gurney has slowly evaporated.  (Is it true that Howell Connant’s photo library was destroyed when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed?)  The best we could do on short notice was to use a photo of the 1966 VW van, seen recently in San Francisco, that was channeled, shortened, and convertible-ized by folks who wanted to promote Tillamook Cheese.  We wanted to use those photos for a story idea tip to the ruling junta at Jalopnik but maybe a link to this column will serve the same purpose.]

Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle, in a book titled “Last Chapter,” wrote (on page 37):  “I’ve always felt the great 500-mile auto race at Indianapolis was the most exciting event – in terms of suspense – that I’ve ever known.  The start of a B-29 mission to Tokyo, from the spectator’s standpoint, was almost the same as the Indianapolis race.”

Now the disk jockey will play Elvis’ songs:  “Spinout,” “Speedway,” and “Viva Las Vegas.”  We have to go and start the arduous process of applying for press credentials for the next Oscar™ Awards ceremony.  Have a “Boh Chi” type week.

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