Thursday, December 05, 2013
Three epic blues artists making a song together. Includes a bit of back-and-forth in between them singing their parts, and an altogether well made blues song that provides a pretty nice back up track to the latest revelations from the Toronto Police Departmentin the ongoing saga of the inevitable downfall of Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford as he clings to the walls of the black hole of his own creation he is being sucked into...next step? Murder indictment? perhaps, but thanks to the teabrained racist conservatism of Suburban Torontonians, he is still their Mayor and General Franco is still DEAD!
Another tranche of police documents on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been released [474 page (!) PDF]. Despite the mayor's insistence that all of his secrets were now out in the open and he had nothing more to hide, the new materials contain several bombshells, including allegations of heroin use, bribing crooks with marijuana, and lying about the infamous crack video.
Toronto Life has handpicked a few of Rob Ford's most egregious offenses from the new doc. They include testimony from gang members that they witnessed the mayor taking heroin; that Ford's enforcer David Price believed that Anthony Smith had been murdered over the crack video; that Ford bribed gang members with 1.5kg of marijuana for the return of his stolen phone, and that the mayor offered a car and $5,000 cash for the crack video, before he told the public that he had no knowledge of the video and believed it didn't exist.
Of course, none of this is likely to decrease Ford Nation's confidence in the mayor. Ford came to office through two tactics: first, a divisive appeal to suburbanites in which he falsely claimed that their tax dollars were being squandered on vanity projects in the city (the mayor's own auditors discovered almost no discretionary spending in the municipal budget); second, through having a gigantic staff whom the mayor dispatched to respond to voters' individual problems, filling potholes and so forth on demand, without regard to the most cost-efficient or sensible way of maintaining Canada's largest city.
These twin populist tactics have won the hearts and minds of enough suburbanites to keep Ford in their hearts, seemingly without regard to his character, his crimes, or his competence.
New bombshells from police documents suggest Rob Ford may have tried heroin, been blackmailed [Matthew Fox/Toronto Life]
As usual, I missed the first and most important day of the most important dates in my Holiday calendar, Last night was the first night of The Festival of Zappadan. It starts with the date of Frank Zappa's physical planetary exit December 4, 1993 and ends on December 21st, the date on which he was born in 1940. I have been participating in this "blogswarm" since it's official inception in 2006. But, I tend to spasmodically celebrate Zappadan through out the entire year. I think in some ways, Frank would have enjoyed my habitual absent mindeness. I do.
To mark this auspicious date, I would like to hight light the 1962 cheap B Movie, The Worlds Greatest Sinner. In fact this movie was so Grade B, in the 1960's sense that it wasn't even really appreciated until 2001! The Worlds Greatest Sinner was written by, directed by and starring Timothy Carey. Martin Scorsese has championed this movie. A summation of the plot?
The self-financed film tells the story of a frustrated insurance salesman, Clarence Hilliard (played by Carey), who quits his job because he finds it meaningless. After witnessing an ecstatic crowd at a rock concert, Hilliard forms a band. Finding that he can whip crowds into a frenzy with his wildly unhinged rockabilly performances, Hilliard proceeds to churn his fan base into a political party, and eventually into a religious cult based on Hilliard's assertion that every man is a god. Clarence finances the cult by seducing elderly widows out of their life savings (the film features sequences of Timothy Carey making love to elderly women, as well as a 14-year-old girl). The more powerful Clarence becomes, the more egomaniacal and detached from reality he grows, eventually insisting upon being called God with a capital "G" (literally-- "God Hilliard"). His followers worship him. Soon he personally challenges the God of the Bible to prove that Clarence himself is not the true Almighty. God obliges him.
He asked his 22 year old friend Frank Zappa to score the film In an interview with Steve Allen in 1962, the neophyte composer sarcastically refers to the film as the worst film ever made. But the rockabiily/blues/gospel Edgar Varese inspired soundtrack contains the germ, the spores, the dna that was the fertile compost of ideas that proved for the next 30 years, that in Zappa's words, "The Present Day Composer Refuses To Die."
and of course here is the sound track for this blog mixed with the visuals from my favorite creepiest movie ever "The Thing With Out A Face":
Joyeaux Jour 2 de Zappadan! Tout le Monde!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
This Christmas, give the gift that keeps on taking. Your rights, your legal benefits and your voice. Give all of your money to this megalomaniacal junior fascist teabrained bastard and let your kids play with the tax refundable donation receipt instead.
Is this the first shot over the bow in the real WAR ON CHRISTMAS?
Is this the first shot over the bow in the real WAR ON CHRISTMAS?
Monday, December 02, 2013
To celebrate the RNC outreach to the Black Population of Detroit and the release of their smash hit, Let's Do It To Detroit, featuring Rince Priebus and Rand Paul harmonizing on the vocoder with my Daft Punk rip off bass line, the RNC officially wants us to know that they are the party of Abraham Lincoln, who ended racism in America. Apparently according to them, racism is over, and has been for decades. Actually, if I hear another Republican tell me that they are the party that ended racism and try to ignore reality, I cannot be held responsible for my Pavlovian response: The Knee To The Groin....
But mindlessly un heedful of my auto neural response, the RNC wants to let you know and they are using Rosa Parks to let you know what they want you to know...Racism is Over in America....
Of course, this ignores everything the RNC has done:
This news could not come at a better time for the GOP. The party has struggled mightily in recent years to attract support from non-white communities; In 2012, President Obama won 80% of the non-white vote.
Republican governors have also signed dozens of laws restricting voting rights since 2010, and the conservative-led Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act earlier this year. A North Carolina GOP precinct chair was forced to resign after he criticized “lazy black people” while explaining his state’s harsh new voting laws on The Daily Show.
When faced with such utter ridiculousness, the Twitterverse responded as only it can: with a mocking hashtag #RacismEndedWhen, which became a top trender quickly. A few instant classics:
The RNC later tweeted an amendment to their tweet, crediting Parks with "her bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism."
But not before this little incident in Rochester, New York proved with out a doubt that:
my pavlovian auto neural knee groinal response is totally automatic, unconscious and Justified!
Or Else......That's right, my Jeezuss says whadevvauhhh I want him to say. You just have to find a quote, twist it and tweek it jez right and My personal Jeezus say whadevuh I want him to be sayin....So Pope Francis and his little hissy fit regarding capitalism..Chill, Babe...we gonna fix it. Cuz, Jeezus B Cool if you make him say what U want him 2 say. If he wanna mix religion and politics, Hey, it's okay as long as he say what we wanna hear him say. Jezz U B cool and let the librul media fix it, cuz, if you be 1 4 Jeezusss every thang gonna be all right.....
Sunday, December 01, 2013
I had to post more about Italy. I was in Rome for a few days, but then I was immersed in Umbria. It was the hight of the mushroom season, so I was in heaven as I am a life long mushroom collector and consumer. I've been seriously collecting wild mushrooms since I was 16 and usually can identify most specimen by eye and come up with the botanical latin name of the variety There were of course a few different varieties of chantrelles and the local version of Boletus edulis, cepes here in France, but in Italy, the prized Porcini, in abundance. I consumed them on pasta, in ravioli and on pizzas! I live on the edge of the Black Truffle region of the Dordogne Causse. The The Black Truffle of Perigord, tuber melansporum, is an intense little tuber. They are insanely expensive. In Umbria, it was truffle season. The black truffles, tuber brumale vittadini, there are a different specie. Larger, more abundant but not as intensely flavored, though when you enter a shop with fresh truffles, the scent is overpowering! The real star of the Umbrian truffle extravaganza is
the White Truffle. The White Truffle, tuber magnatum pico, is like nothing else. They can be huge and the price can be even huger. White Truffles are more ephemeral as well. They lose weight fast so they should be eaten fresh and they are not cooked, but grated raw. They grow in a very particular environment, like all truffles which make them almost impossible to raise on a commercial level. I ate them and with out writing an entire piece on truffles, I have to concur, they were like nothing I had ever had before...I had them grated in abundance on a plate of tagliatelle in a great restaurant in Perugia. Can you imagine an earthy scent of garlic, honey and flowers, but as a flavor? Scent is so much a part of our ability to taste. I feel a wiser if not richer man for the experience. I visited a few of the medieval towns clinging to the sides of the mountains in the intensely forest region. I was in Norcia, a place that has given it's name as a a noun to describe the pork and cheese of the region. I spent a bizarre day in Assisi, avoiding flocks of genuflecting overly ostentatious American Catholics, but finding a true religious experience in the little food shops.
After lunch, Enzo and I went on the Funivia. A cable car thing that is basically a cage that takes you up the side of the mountain. I found a video that sort of captures the experience:
Friday, November 29, 2013
Renato Giuseppe Bertelli, Continuous Profile
(Head of Mussolini) (1933).
The conversation in the cab got pretty animated and after we got out and paid the fare, they shook hands and the guy drove off with Enzo snarling " Typical Asshole!"
In the week or so I was there, I realized that Berlusconi enjoyed the same kind of populist support as your typical Teabrained Congressman might enjoy in the district he represented. It makes sense, because, he controlled the media in Italy for years. He was a phenomena that could only have occured in a small country like Italy. As if someone like say, Rupert Murdoch could have molded his public image. But Murdoch could never be Berlusconi. Berlusconi enjoyed the chipped decadent fading aura of Mussolini Fascism. A small but still vibrant country still divided by ancient cultural prejudices. This country is divided by region and carries it over to the way they view the rest of Europe.
Okay, a bit of a generalization, but the little map of Italy on the left is a not so exaggerated view of the way the lumpen Italian common people view their country. And what's so bizarre about that? Look at the way a big country full of ignorant idiots, like say, Fox News viewing Americans view the rest of the country and the world from the relatively secure familiar confines of their trailer courts in their particular region. Look, Italian politics are a study in controlled anarchy. Berlusconi first came to power in Italy in 1994. He used his position as a the CEO of Italian Media to create his Forza Italia Party and hone his image as a strong Mussolini unifying national leader. He became his own historical semi regency...he rose to power as a savior and then rode out the ups and downs of economic reality with his media and cosmetic surgically enhanced PR mastery. His personal life mirrored the decline of the Roman Empire. Drugs, Sex, Corruption Scandals...he is a 77 year old surgically enhanced Viagra dependent despot desperately trying to hold the reins of the nationalistic, fascist racist monster he created. Rob Ford of Toronto is a two bit amateur compared to the Bunga Bunga Coke fueled Under aged prostitute Orgy world of Berlusconi. He was the fuckin President and he he didn't give a fuck...and for a lot of the machismo envy of a lot of the common worker Italian men, this was the gateway to a fantasy land they could never even imagine.
It took twenty years to remove Berlusconi from the ranks of government, although his noisome politics of corruption and media monopoly were obvious from the first day. His populist Italianism still has strong appeal among the poor and ignorant, the very people Berlusconi did most to bring into that condition. Elderly housewives and retired men still swoon over the charm of this gallant, headlong TV impresario, who presented himself as a true Italian man, a self-made tycoon who knew what he wanted and knew how to get it. When he finally lost power -- as a patron of underage prostitutes -- the women from Berlusconi's splintering party dressed themselves in black to mourn the "death of Italian democracy."
A study in contrasts, France's President, Francois Hollande has a much more positive economic record and has done all he has could to protect France from austerity economic measure. We still enjoy the best health care system in the world, but he is totally null when it comes to his image and PR. His government is very inclusive, a black woman is the minister of justice, a Spanish born citizen is Minister of the Interior...in fact, Manuel Valls is perhaps the farthest "right" member of the government. Young, glib and reeking charisma, Valls could be Prime Minister now if he was asked. He has the highest approval rating of any French political figure. But Hollande seems to be losing luster by the hour. thought he rejects far right nationalism but because of his tragic lack of PR skills, he is facing the lowest approval ratings of any recent French President!
It might be that Berlusconi's fandom was overestimated, thanks to his long-time control of Italian newspapers and television.
Berlusconi can be stopped and searched! Policewomen, give him what he deserves!
Berlusconi's voters deserve their share of blame for putting up with him. His devotees were numerous, active, vigorous and still are. He may have been purged from political life on a disgusting morals charge, but a counter-purge awaits around the corner from the horde of cronies who fully share his politics and his tycoon wealth-machine. It is only a matter of time: somebody from Berlusconi's numerous family and his crew of bunga bunga friends will strike back at the Italian parliament that humiliated him.
In the meantime, those honest people and voters who fought against dark times in Italy must find some path back toward the daylight. With or without Berlusconi, the citizens of Italy still face Austerity policy at work: cuts in the social welfare, childcare, education, research, pensions, and the mutilation of one of the best health care systems in the world. So the news is good: but it would be better news if democracy and civilization were back on their feet again
Meanwhile, Berlusconi's 28 year old "girlfriend" Francesca Pascale went public yesterday with her plea for a public audience with Pope Francis to plead for forgiveness and explain his part of the story....for the record, Berlusconi is one year younger than Pope Francis....Uhh, this might have been a serious tactical error, but religion? politics? stranger things have happened.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Composed by Ennio Morricone. Conducted by Nicola Samale. From the Crime and Dissonance (Compilation, 2005). Originally from the soundtrack of A Man to Respect (1972)
A composition from the master of Italian cinema music.
I hope all of my American followers and anyone who stops by here today is having a great Thanksgiving. I didn't have turkey, but I did have a huge slice of my wife's incredible banana cream pie with caramel sauce!
Tomorrow, another post on Italy and the punch line of the bad joke that was Berlusconi.