Pulitzer Storm

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Am thrilled that David Farenthold won a Pulitzer for his spectacular reporting for the Washington Post, and am equally thrilled that the Storm Lake Times, of Buena Vista County, Iowa, won one, too

A family-run biweekly with a circulation hovering around 3,000, this little paper Davids the Goliaths of corrupt corporations wreaking havoc on the locals and the landscape,

“We’ve always believed that the Storm Lakes Times should be as good at covering Storm Lake as the New York Times is at covering New York,” said editor-in-chief, Art Cullen. “There’s no reason why an editorial written in Iowa shouldn’t be as good as an editorial written in Washington.”

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Go forth, Cullens!

NOT BLENDED ENOUGH

Two days ago I let rip on some sexist music critics whose priorities about a certain beautiful opera singer were heinously misguided.

Today, however, I want to sing the praises of another critic—A. O. Scott, one of the film critics of The New York Times. His scathing review of Blended, the newest ego-fest flick starring that not-funny, not-appealing, not-interesting hangdog hack Adam Sandler, is one for the ages.

This is how it starts: “Because life is short and I have other things to be upset about, I will not dwell on the offensive aspects of Blended….”

Later, he adds, “Most of Blended has the look and pacing of a three-camera sitcom filmed by a bunch of eighth graders and conceived by their less bright classmates….”

And it ends with this zinger: “Blended is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It will make your children stupid.”

Thank you, A. O., for restoring my faith in valid criticism.

SEND IN THE COWS

Is anyone surprised?

Actually, Cliven Bundy—he of the fabulous name and less-than-fabulous behavior, considering that he’s been abusing federal land since 1993, allowing his cattle to graze there for free—isn’t so much a rancher as a poacher. He’s poached the land. The Bureau of Land Management says he owes over $1 million in grazing fees. Cliven, not surprisingly, says he owes nothing. He’s a real American, after all. He has rights.

The stand-off was manna for the talking racist war-mongering fascists heads on Fox News and in Conservative circles. Until Cliven, emboldened by all the attention and flattery, forgot to edit the spew of racist vomit words he said to a New York Times reporter:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” [this paragon of libertarianism said about driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Got that? This man, who is abusing federal laws and therefore being subsidized by taxpayers, is complaining about poor people who haven’t broken any laws being subsidized by taxpayers.

Oops. Some of his more prominent supporters, like Rand Paul and Sean Hannity, have had to condemn this flagrant racism. Their newfound poster child for the effects of the big bad government is suddenly exposed as a revolting human being. Oh boo-hoo.

Go swimming with a predator, and you’re likely to get bitten.

Bye-bye, Bundy!

PETE SEEGER RIP

In contrast to the soulless moneybags I wrote about yesterday, today is a time to celebrate and mourn a true American hero: Pete Seeger, who died of natural causes at the age of 94.

Pete believed in the common man, the goodness of humanity, and did everything in his considerable yet humble power to improve the world.

“My job,” he once said, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

Take the time, if you can, to read some of the online obits. This is part of what was posted at the New York Times site: “As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes. 

“Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew the songs on his 2006 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, from Mr. Seeger’s repertoire of traditional music about a turbulent American experience, and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural. At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”

Then read this to see what real character and guts are like (hear that, Thomas Perkins?): http://www.mediaite.com/online/heres-the-amazing-transcript-of-pete-seeger-pissing-off-the-house-un-american-activities-committee/.

And take a moment to listen to one of his songs. This should help: http://www.salon.com/2014/01/28/remembering_pete_seeger/

He is irreplaceable.

NOW THIS IS NOT THE REAL SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS (OR OF ANYTHING WITH A CONSCIENCE)

A recent New York Times profile of Dasani, a homeless girl living with her methadone-addicted parents in the Auburn Family Residence, a highly unsuitable shelter, set the editorial board of the Murdoch-owned fascist rag New York Post on edge.

“[Dasani’s] mother, father and [siblings] aren’t really homeless at all,” quipped the Post. True, they live in housing meant for ‘homeless families.’ By this definition, the minisule unit they survive in—where, according to the Times, “mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers”–is akin to dwelling in one of Uncle Rupe’s mega-mansions.

And because Dasani’s hapless parents were drug addicts, they’re scolded for being “outrageously irresponsible.”

Yes, they were. But a lot of people are/were drug addicts. Including Post buddy Rush Limbaugh. Was he accused of being “outrageously irresponsible”?

Right.

Not surprisingly, the Post went on to blame liberals, because, you know, compassionate conservatives would kick these people to the curb and let a free-market economy and the ghost of Ayn Rand magically provide for their needs. “If the city is at fault here,” says the Post, “it might well be for having been too generous — providing so much that neither the father nor mother seems much inclined to provide for their kids. That would be a story worth reading.”

Right.

It’s ever-too-generous to give a roof and a meal to a starving child who wants to make something of her life. To help her get a decent education so she can try to get a decent job and not be dependent on the system any more.

What these sanctimonious hypocrites don’t seem to get is that if you can’t afford the rent or a mortgage and you don’t have a home, YOU ARE HOMELESS. Being given shelter still means YOU ARE HOMELESS.

What’s next? Setting up a tent city in Central Park for homeless kids?

Nah. It would ruin the view of the disgustingly uncharitable money-grubbing selfish greedy pigs editors of the Post.

 

CHET FLIPPO (AND MARTHA HUME) RIP

While reading the NY Times yesterday my heart skipped a beat when I saw the obituary for Chet Flippo. He was a really, really nice guy and a great journalist. He gave a voice to country music and almost made it seem cool (even when it really wasn’t).

I met Chet and Martha when I was editing books at Delilah Communications in the early 1980s. We used to hang out in the much missed Lone Star Café on 5th Avenue and 13th Street, where I had a few misadventures (LOL) and they introduced me to Kinky Friedman. They were an inseparable team.

I’ll never forget when we hired Martha to write a bio of Kenny Rogers (back when he was big, and hadn’t yet destroyed his face with plastic surgery), and she was having trouble getting it done. “My husband had to hire a sea plane to fly me out to Fire Island so I could work,” she told me, her voice quavering. So I was sent to Fire Island (on the LIRR) to help “motivate” her, which involved a lot of walks on the beach and body surfing in the waves. Yeah, those were the days.  

 I hadn’t been in touch in a while and was also shocked to see that Martha had died last December. She was eternally youthful. People who love music and make it their life’s passion tend to be that way.

I’m really lucky I knew them. 

GETTING GASSY

 

There was a brilliant smackdown of yet another Murdoch-Inspired Koch Brothers-Fueled Faux News  Wall Street Journal “editorial” by one of my favorite science writers, Phil Plait, at his site Bad Astronomy: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/05/10/carbon_dioxide_and_global_warming_more_is_not_better.html

According to the two “scientists” who wrote the puff piece, carbon dioxide is good because it makes plants grow. Duh. This is the dumbest explanation yet for denying global warming. Even an oft-science-challenged person like moi can see through their smokescreen.

Especially when the lead story in the NY Times this past Saturday reported that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now higher than 400 parts per million—for the first time in millions of years.  That is very scary stuff. Especially for all people living near a coastline or on an island. The seas are going to rise, even if the Koch Brothers WSJ doesn’t choose to believe it.

Which is why I’m glad further details leaking the authors to—bonus points if you guess it!!—certain think tanks and sponsors is up here: http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/05/09/wall-street-journals-idiocracy-co2-is-what-plan/193986.

Our planet is in trouble. Climate is changing and that means the weather is changing.

The only people happy about it are disaster buffs.

And tornado chasers.

GATSBY GOES VIRAL

 

When I was a teen and forced to read The Great Gatsby, I must confess I didn’t get all the hoopla about it being one of the best novels ever written.

When I reread it as an adult, I couldn’t believe what a nitwit I was.

Gatsby is short, yet the world of longing it evokes is immensely long.

So it warmed my heart to see this piece in the NY Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/business/media/new-great-gatsby-book-carries-a-hollywood-look.html?_r=0. And to also read that Gatsby might well be one of the top-selling novels on 2013. Amazing considering how long it’s been Lurching.

Judge the book by its cover all you like—as long as you buy it.

And read it.

And get it.

DEAR ABBY RIP

Pauline Phillips, aka Dear Abby aka twin sister of fellow advice columnist (who started doing it first in 1955) Ann Landers died a few days ago. She was 94 and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Talk about sibling rivalry. Ann and Abby battled each other most of their adult lives. They reminded me of all those shrinks who help so many of their patients get better yet are complete nightmares to their spouses and children.

But when they were giving advice to readers, they usually nailed it. Abby was genius at the pithy one-liners—but more than that, she was wise and gentle with people who needed her help. I’m sure most Lurchers grew up, as I did, reading her column and marveling at all the messes people got themselves into (or were thrust into thanks to their families or employers). But what Abby and Ann did at the time was to normalize the madness. It was quite eye-opening to realize how badly so many adults needed advice, and felt they had nowhere else to turn but a columnist in a newspaper.

Read some of the obits. I think Pauline would have been thrilled that hers landed on the front page of the New York Times. These obits are an homage to Abby’s common sense and decency.