Watch Out for Bears & Allergy Medicine

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What starts as a nature video tracking a bear in the wild becomes an ad for allergy medicine, which becomes hilarious, then terrifying, then…your guess is as good as mine.

Hit play and prepare to watch for 10:39. That’s longish in terms of internet videos but trust me: you won’t be able to stop.

Discussion topic: What the fuck is going on?

 

Don’t Remember John Lennon Today (Re-posted)

Because the circumstances of his death have no meaning.

Because any attempt to ascribe meaning or logic to his killer’s actions only satisfies the internal demons that compelled him to project Lennon into his own psychotic narrative.

Because a psychotic is neither a hero nor a villain, but a puppet of distorted brain chemistry and a victim of society’s inability to confront its own weaknesses.

Which in this case amounts to a fear/absence of empathy for the mentally ill. And also a need to shore up its own self-perceived weaknesses with rage, violence and barely-regulated weapons.

All of which fueled the passion and poetry in Lennon’s work, I know. Which argues against my proposing we all ignore the anniversary of his death.

 

But to my ears, Lennon’s life and work were about life and possibility, particularly in the face of death and destruction.

Think of those early shots of the Beatles, so young and full of promise, and yet posed in the shattered ruins of Liverpool’s World War II bomb sites.

Consider how John and Paul were joined by a passion for music that sprang directly from terrible losses: the death of Paul’s mother; John’s abandonment by his parents. And then, just as he was reconnecting with his mother, her sudden, violent death.

Lennon flirted with, and sometimes tumbled into, the abyss of existential meaninglessness. “I read the news today, oh boy…” But he still couldn’t resist the allure of beauty, hope and life. I hope one day you join us/And the world can live as one.

The man had his flaws. He could be angry, hostile and occasional brutal. His widow’s non-stop propaganda campaign, in attempts to sustain and heighten his secular sainthood, does him, her and us no favors.

And that’s the stuff of death. The sound of the gunfire. The chill wind in the leafless branches.

Today I’m thinking about the gunfire at the start of the Beatles’ 1964 album track “Any Time at All.” Which isn’t a gun at all, but the crack of Ringo’s drumstick against his snare. Bam! Then it’s Lennon’s unadorned voice at full, urgent, stop-you-in-your-tracks volume: Any time at all!

Because all you gotta do is call. Spin the CD, click ‘play’ on your iTunes. Listen to the perfect balance of voices, the sweet insistence that the entire meaning of life comes down to a glance, a wave, a kiss. And if the words don’t convince you just listen to the drums, bass, guitars and piano.

Any time at all/All you gotta do is call/And I’ll be there!

And he is. Not just on this gloomy day, either. The promise was, and remains, a 24/7 kind of commitment. The very sound of life, love and meaning, available to you 365 days a year.

That’s what we need to remember about John Lennon.

originally published Dec 8, 2010

Farewell Pete Seeger: Folk singer, union organizer, political activist, all-around badass

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And when these fingers can strum no longer/Hand your guitar to young ones stronger…

Called before the fearsome House Un-American Activities Committee to defend himself against charges of being a Communist in 1955, Pete Seeger refused to name names. He wouldn’t answer any questions about his political, philosophical and personal beliefs. And while Sen. Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist storm troopers were at the height of their punishing powers, ruining careers and imprisoning suspected troublemakers at will, Seeger didn’t use his Fifth Amendment protections to protect himself, either.

In other words: Bring it on, bitches.

Check the transcript (abridged for brevity, context remains pure)

MR. TAVENNER: The Committee has information obtained in part from the Daily Worker indicating that, over a period of time, especially since December of 1945, you took part in numerous entertainment features. I have before me a photostatic copy of the June 20, 1947, issue of the Daily Worker. In a column entitled “What’s On” appears this advertisement: “Tonight-Bronx, hear Peter Seeger and his guitar, at Allerton Section housewarming.” May I ask you whether or not the Allerton Section was a section of the Communist Party?

MR. SEEGER: Sir, I refuse to answer that question whether it was a quote from the New York Times or the Vegetarian Journal.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer.

MR. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

(…)

MR. SCHERER: He was directed to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: What is your answer?

MR. SEEGER: I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature and I resent very much and very deeply the implication of being called before this Committee that in some way because my opinions may be different from yours, or yours, Mr. Willis, or yours, Mr. Scherer, that I am any less of an American than anybody else. I love my country very deeply, sir.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: I direct you to answer that question.

MR. SEEGER: I have already given you my answer, sir.

MR. SCHERER: Let me understand. You are not relying on the Fifth Amendment, are you?

MR. SEEGER: No, sir, although I do not want to in any way discredit or depreciate or depredate the witnesses that have used the Fifth Amendment, and I simply feel it is improper for this committee to ask such questions.

MR. SCHERER: And then in answering the rest of the questions, or in refusing to answer the rest of the questions, I understand that you are not relying on the Fifth Amendment as a basis for your refusal to answer?

MR. SEEGER: No, I am not, sir.

That’s guts. And so is this tune, recorded live with Arlo Guthrie in 1975:

And a scarecrow shall lead them

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Last September the Chipotle burrito chain released this haunting little cartoon about a scarecrow’s moral crisis in the midst of the corporate/chemical farming industry. Poignant, sad, a little bit silly, “Scarecrow” made no mention of the restaurants or its products until the last few seconds of a 3:23-minute film. It’s fantastic and if you haven’t you should watch it right here, right now:

Given the dual motivations of moral indignation and commercial opportunity — and the divesting of temporary controlling owners McDonald’s, Inc. the Chipotle owners just kicked their campaign against the agricultural behemoths up a notch or six with an even bigger film-and-sorta-advertising project called “Farmed and Dangerous,” a satirical, multi-part adventure series set inside the management of Animoil, a large-scale agribiz whose petroleum-based cow feed pellets can have, um, explosive effects on their diners.

Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper,” et. al) stars, hilariously. Here’s the trailer for the series.

The four-part, two-hour series premieres on Hulu on February 17.
And here’s today’s NYT story on “Farmed and Dangerous.”

Tom Junod’s Bob Dylan

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Just when you think you’ve read every word you can stomach about the mysteries and weirdities of Mr. Bob Dylan, here comes Esquire’s Tom Junod (and Jeff Tweedy, with a big assist) to lay it down in a whole new way.

And yet he has not given in; he has preserved his mystery as assiduously as he has curated his myth, and even after a lifetime of compulsive disclosure he stands apart not just from his audience but also from those who know and love him. He is his own inner circle, a spotlit Salinger who has remained singular and inviolate while at the same time remaining in plain sight.