Sunday, July 31, 2016

American in the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 6

I don't remember if I saw Cat Ballou in the theater or on television. The second run movie house could have had it as a feature for a Saturday afternoon matinee.

It isn't impossible for me to have seen it on the big screen.






I would not have known about Nat King Cole's music career. I probably was trying to figure out why Sidney Poitier was not in the movie.

Sidney was in dang almost every movie I could think of in the 1960s.

I did like my westerns with the shooting and and killing of bad people. I was heavily invested in the killing of bad people.

But change came. New ideas were seeping into the general consciousness. I remember being in the audience with John Wayne type movie.

There comes a point when the Union army general or scout refereed to Native Americans as savages.

The audience, 99.5% black responded with jokes and booing. When the indigenous land owners were killing up said Union army there was cheering.

So that is probably why there was a whole lot of Clint Eastwood movies at my local cinema. Less wear and tear and not so much popcorn boxes chucked at the screen.

I digress.

Kat Ballou wasn't that kind of movie. It was a western comedy.

Plucky young woman returns home with her dad only to find out that a bad man is causing trouble.

Still got your Native American in service and white guys doing pretty much what they want.

And if you think about it the movie does kind of carry the meme that the only power anyone has it is the power of the gun to invoke change.

You want justice, do it yourself.

You want wealth, take it.

You want self-respect in an unfair land, fight for it.

Cuz real good so-called G-d fearing/loving citizens don't give a damn about anything other than their own self interests.

Yeah, yeah. I'm putting too much into it. Just a comedy movie.

Friday, July 22, 2016

American in the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 5

There are photos of Jeff Goldblum moving through social media. The are mainly talking about how hot he looks for a 63 year-old man.

This fact is not in dispute. On the sexy hotness scale from Zero to 10 he is burning 13.75 and climbing.

Which puts me back in the cross hairs of being an American and gun culture. On a lazy summer afternoon I watched a movie called Mad Dog Time.




IMDB describes it as:

With his boss in the madhouse, a mobster is temporary boss of the criminal empire just as vicious rivals threaten the control of the empire.

Naw that ain't it. There is a whole lot of shoot 'em up bang bang in this movie. It is stylized. Some times shocking. Occasionally funny.

And there is Goldblum being that fine looking, up to no good and cut me a slice self. In this one scene alone you got Billy Idol, Kyle MacLachlan, Gregory Hines and Jeff Goldblum.

It is an acquired taste movie. It is stylized and mounted well but there is a whole lot of killing going on.

If you got the taste for it, it is a hoot.

Americans did not seem to have a taste for this movie.
Americans sometimes have a problem with sex, comedy and guns all in one place.  

It only opened on 18 screens and seems to have disappeared from distribution shortly after release.

It might have been one of those tax dodge movies that was popular at the time.


I don't know.

I do know that I'll watch almost anything with Goldblum.
I kind feel icky that I remember and liked this movie. 

Kinda like the undercurrent of seduction that goes on in the film and gun culture.





Sunday, July 17, 2016

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 4

I guess one of the unasked questions in current movie fiction is can you be a strong man solving problems without a gun.




We know men can be goofs.

They can be con men.

Beloved hump fiends with their own private sex shooter.

But when was the last time you remember a movie that did not have the male hero/protagonist without using a gun (bomb, rocket, robot, spaceship with photon torpedoes) to solve the problem or be restored whole?

I know that this movie is based on a series of famous books.

I've never read them.

Spy genre is not my preferred reading area of interest.

The thing is that variations of this poster is on every bus, shuttle, cab and transportation device.
I have no choice but to see this image of a man with a gun.

Still with the Orlando shooting in my mind. Still with the most recent death by cop videos. Still with all the yakity yak about 2nd amendments vs gun control talk.

This is how I wind up in the nexus.

Because in the United States, that piece of metal means more than any one individual's life be it a child, woman or man.

And we are so connected to the gun.

Attitudes have to change. How we tell stories about guns and power might have to change.

And we are not there yet.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 3

Now if you want to really get down to it we'd have to talk about Spaghetti westerns. Sorry about the ads, the other versions are getting yanked down. Because cultural memories are DCMA protected.





One man as hero/anti-hero.

Dark skinned people as bad guys or poor preyed upon town folk.

Good and evil.

Law and Disorder.

The gun is used as a tool for respect compensation.

And in-between the JuJu Beans and 25 cent Coca Cola I learned that a man and a gun were all you needed to get by.

That messaged is ingrained in our fiction, history and cultural expression.

So maybe when we attempt to talk about gun control what we might be doing is talking about changing our belief systems.

And Americans are a loath to do that as they are to admit that there might be some structural problems that require more than sound bites to solve.

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 2

My gun education was passive; meaning I didn't have to do much to be indoctrinated. Saturday mornings television had adventure, sci-fi and westerns.




Guns played a major role in almost all of them.

This is an episode of the Lone Ranger animated series; it was steampunk before steampunkers were born.

Bad guys have the Gatling gun, good guys have pistols and arrows.

Bad guys have fire rain machine, good guys has pistols and a rope.

Lone Ranger stops army of bad men.

I would not have know about Latinos or people in the Southwest. I would not have questioned an army garrison or why Tonto was so bounded to the Ranger. And why didn't the horse catch a bullet or two?"

So I would have learned:

  • The myth that one man can stop an army. 
  • Guns save a nation.
  • Bad guys are stupid, why didn't Agent Z blow up the garrison and any other military support?

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 1

The first movie I ever saw by myself was In the Heat of the Night. I am sure that there was a Three Stooges short and a couple of Warner Brothers cartoons in front of it. Probably one of those that had Elmer tooting a gun.

I can't remember.
I do remember this movie.


  

I understood about cops harassing and detaining without warrant or reasonable cause other than the color of your skin.

I absorbed the audience reaction when Tibbs struck the rich man as doing something none of us could possibly do and live to tell about it.

I felt the fear about being chased by a mob of angry young white men that had no other sport. 

I was also chomping down a lot of butter popcorn and Mike and Ike's so I may have missed a few things.

What did I learn at 8 years of age
  • Have to be careful around white folks.
  • Have to be careful around white folks with guns and chains.
  • Sidney Poitier was Superman in a suit 
  • I'm going to do my best to stay out of the south.

Looking back, I think I absorbed was the understanding that guns and power could keep you safe but if you had some brains and something that other people wanted that might keep you alive too.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

When The Life You Knew Passes You By

One of the things about photography that I like is that it helps me see things. It helps me to remember and maybe one day prove to somebody that this is different. It is not like we thought it was.

It is the small things.



 Like seven dollars for a jar of beets.

I like beets. I like to eat them. I like to drink beet juice.
I would not like to pay seven dollar a jar for picked or non-picked beets.

That is just me. I can afford too. I have the money in my wallet.

But when did this become the norm for downtown Los Angeles?

Since gentrification. I don't see gentrification as good or bad. It is the normal change of how human see resources.

When people with money and no place to go turn their attention to poor or broke folks neighborhoods that is when trouble starts to brew.

What is bad is how humans behave when gentrification arrives. First order of business, jack up the rents and push existing businesses out.

And no matter how many times the existing neighborhood folks asked for assistance in dealing with crime and problem all of the sudden there is a police presence. The undesirables are pushed out and away.

This can include many of the same folks that spent 10+ years trying to get attention.

When people with money and no place to go start to root in poor or broke folks neighborhoods they discover stuff.

Or not. 

People and places and things are disappearing.

I'm taking notes but I'm not sure who to report back to; you see I have been told that I am no longer relevant and hurry up and die.

As always, I chose to be a contrarian.

Friday, May 13, 2016

There Is the Dance and Risk of Loss

Yeah, the dance. Not talking about the Rumpshaker or the Electric Slide.

This is a video created by two people (not the dancers in the video) about what they got out of a song by the band Alabama Shakes.



They were inspired by the song and created a video. Apparently there was a contest by the band that fans could participate by creating an official video.

This didn't win.

Hold on.

What do you do when you create something good, with good intent?

That could be considered to violate copyright?

You hold your breath and hope for the best. I don't know how long this video will be up.

Can you have an official and permitted unofficial version of a work?

We are about to find out.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Books as Conduits of Thought

It has been a awhile since my last post. I might get kicked out the the blogging union if there was such as thing. Wait, I think somebody tried to start one years ago but I haven't heard anything about it so maybe it isn't a thing.

I type at people I know that are on FB but I miss this. There doesn't seem to be time for thought or reflection. It is all "tell me now, feel it now, now, now, now"

Sometimes you need to shut up.

Shut up. Not in the pejorative meaning.

Shut your soul up and contemplate the universe.
Shut up with a book and be transported to another place.
Shut up and establish yourself within yourself so you don't have to run to someone else for affirmation.

Books and old, smelly wonderful books stores can help you do that; if you let them. We might have run out of time. Old smelly bookstores are going away or have gone.

This is a closing book store in New York. It is a video from the New Yorker Magazine.






Places like this nurtured me. Raised me up and helped me to survive.

What do we have now but sound bite literacy. And now we get sound bite hatred as political actions and racism, sexism and all kinds of phobias as a violent reaction to change.

Change is coming; for good or for evil. Evil is doing well and it is profitable. Good might have to stop wondering how evil is making bank and work on actually doing something away from the keyboard.

Ha, ha, ha....ha.

Maybe I should go find a book and cry on the pages.