‘Psycho’ by Eddie Noack
Had this stuck in my head all week! Thanks TIMJ!

"Christopher Columbus landed first in the New World at the island of San Salvador, and after praising God enquired urgently for gold."
— "The Black Jacobins", C.L.R. James. This is the first sentence of the prologue - James goes hard right out the gate.

‘In Germany Before the War’ by Randy Newman
Have decided that Randy Newman is straight-up my favourite singer/songwriter.

Fascinating look at Kent, UKIP and where Britain is at in 2014. Note this:

There’s plenty of evidence in Thanet to support Ukip’s general proposition that local power is being diminished while the power of remote, faceless authorities is growing. But the overwhelming might of those remote, faceless authorities has little to do with Brussels. It has to do with global business and chainification. It has to do with the neoliberal political agenda: privatisation, jurisdiction-hopping, protection of inherited wealth and a shift of taxation from rich to poor. The Ellington and Hereson School supposedly belongs to Kent County Council, but in fact, until 2032, the premises are owned, maintained and controlled by a Luxembourg-based investment vehicle called Bilfinger Berger Global Infrastructure, which also owns hospitals in Canada and prisons in Australia. Bilfinger Berger, in turn, subcontracts the job of running the school to the outsourcing company Mitie, which, among its many other deals, has the government contract for the forced removal of immigrants through Heathrow. The school is obliged to rent its own buildings, and to pay Mitie’s charges for maintenance or alterations. ‘Every time we want to change a light bulb, it costs £25,’ Colin Harris, the deputy head, told me. Ellington and Hereson has been trying to break away from Kent’s traditional selective education system – the county retains the 11-plus – by becoming an academy, which would result in its being funded directly from central government. But it would still have Bilfinger Berger as its landlord. Ellington and Hereson’s bid for academy status has been held up because Whitehall and Kent County can’t agree on who should pay the rent and service charge to Bilfinger Berger’s diffuse cloud of global investors.

But also this:

So far the Conservatives have suffered most from the depredations of Ukip, but Farage raises an awkward issue for Labour that it has yet to acknowledge: the EU is a hybrid project. It serves the interests of social justice and global capitalism simultaneously. The EU that forces mobile phone firms to lower their roaming charges and Britain to clean up its beaches is also the EU that is giving multinationals the power to sue governments. The EU that tries to give British workers greater rights is also the EU that makes it easy for employers to play national workforces off against each other. Reacting to this, in Britain, in France, in Sweden, in Finland, in Germany, in the Netherlands and in many other EU countries, an ad hoc pan-European alliance of right wing anti-immigration parties is growing in strength. As a Europe-wide confluence of ideas and action, the progressive left is dallying in the coffee shop.

"I jump on the lizard like St.George, I grab it by the floppy wrinkled skin under the neck and heave it about. While I am shaking it, the lamenting call for help continues to be heard. Suddenly I realise, it is not the woman calling for help, but the lizard! I let the beast go, sit down on the threadbare carpet and awkwardly observe the struggle. It really looks as if the woman is the assailant and the lizard the assaulted. If he didn’t have any enemies on Komodo, I said to myself, here it is evidently otherwise. The lizard would clearly have done better to remain in Indonesia. He would have saved not only himself from a nasty situation but also me: for I was unable to decide how to behave; on the one hand the lizard was obviously the victim of an attack, on the other it seemed morally unacceptable for me to side with a lizard in this fight between a lizard and a human being. Hegel reproaches Kant for the merely formal and abstractly universal quality of his categorical imperative, which makes it unable to guide us sufficiently in concrete situations. ‘Act in such a way that the principle of your behaviour may become a universal maxim’: should this universal maxim rather be ‘help those under attack’ or ‘help women who are struggling with monitor lizards’? Kant says: ‘in your conduct let a human being be always the aim, not the means’. What of the lizard, can he be a means? On this subject the Critique of Practical Reason has absolutley nothing to say; as far as I know, in the whole of this extensive work there is not a single mention of monitor lizards."
— "The End Of The Garden", Michal Avjaz
"It was so fresh and so fucking nuts. It made me feel like: ‘Oh, you can do anything? Anything you you want? That’s ok?’ That’s a very liberating feeling. Maybe it was ahead of its time for television, if you get the wrong slot, whatever it is. You just can’t survive.

Anything that can flash you back to when you were a kid is helpful. Particularly when you’re starting up a new movie because amidst all the nerves and the energy and confusion of what you’re doing, [you’re] remembering, ‘why am I even here in the first place?’ Well, it’s like getting back to those original joys and feelings. They’re good to get back to… whether or not you’re going to try do that. I’m not going to try and do [‘Police Squad’], nobody can do that, but remembering that energy from being a kid, that anything is possible, remembering that you can get away with multiple things at the same time. That’s a kind of encouragement… I feel like I can use that to try and attack the story."
Paul Thomas Anderson, discussing Police Squad! (the TV show that gave birth to the The Naked Gun movies). (via twiststreet)

The BFI is doing a Peter Lorre retrospective, which since Lorre never really made it to leading man status presents an appealing amount of oddities - horror cheapies, German silent film, comedies, Silk Stockings, it’s all mixed together into a form that defies any attempt at auterism, or even acteurism. 

I sadly missed Lorre’s only self-directed feature, 1951’s German production Der Verlorene, but did get a chance to catch My Favorite Brunette, a Bob Hope vehicle with Lorre playing the part of a knife throwing baddy called Kismet. It’s an enjoyable enough trifle, poking gentle fun at film noir conventions (Hope plays a baby photographer who poses as a private investigator) and filled with winking cameos. What really drew my attention, though, was the scene this still is from, featuring Hope and Lon Chaney.

Hope is being held against his will in a mental institution (thus the robe), and Chaney, one of the bad guy’s henchmen, is in charge of keeping him in line. Our protagonist tries to ingratiate himself with Chaney’s fundamentally gentle oaf by complimenting his strenght and physique. Thus a lot of time is spent with Hope stating his admiration while feeling up Chaney’s muscles on his arm. He then asks him to do the same and, faced with Hope’s lack of beefyness, Chaney, somewhat disappointed, says “you feel like a woman”.

So basically my question is, how did The Celluloid Closet miss out on this one?

‘Even Trolls Love Rock And Roll’ by Tony Joe White
Well just as I was about to step upon the bridge/Out stepped the troll/A whole mighty troll /and he said: #gamergate


A couple of weekends ago I got together with some old friends in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania. We rented a nice cabin in the woods, and these guys came in from all over. Some of them I only see every few years, so it’s a special thing when we get together. Near our cabin in the Poconos was this abandoned hotel. A friend took this photograph and it obviously used a filter of some kind but it kind of captures what it was like to stand and look at this building. This hotel touched on two things that are very interesting to me: 1) how people in large cities experienced leisure in years past, when opportunities for travel were much more limited; and 2) what happens to these large places for leisure when people start to go somewhere else. 

Like most Americans, before moving to New York City I only knew of the Poconos from media references, maybe Lucy Ricardo talked to Ricky about going there for the weekend on “I Love Lucy”, or something. But I knew it as a NY summer destination. So there was an odd fascination in seeing this empty shell of a structure on this overgrown lot, thinking about what it might have meant in, say, 1935, when it was thriving. Seeing the overgrown drive up the hill and imagining people being excited for what kinds of adventures they would have on their stay. That sort of thing.

Obviously the first time I saw this abandoned hotel (once had 500 guest rooms, white table dining, ballrooms, all that) I thought “I would really like to go inside.” I share the contemporary obsession with “ruin porn,” and like to see spaces like this that are filled with memories and ghosts. 

But there was something else going on this weekend in the Poconos: a guy named Eric Frein, who is apparently some kind of survivalist, shot two state troopers in the area, killing one. Authorities called him a sniper. And now he was in the wind and hiding out somewhere in the mountains, possibly somewhere very close to where we were staying.

It was a little surreal: there were several hundred police combing the woods, they had checkpoints on some roads, and we could hear choppers overhead. On our phones, we received alerts from the national weather service (apparently the platform used for conveying this information) urging people to stay inside, turn on all outdoor lights, and stay away from windows. The latter was especially creepy—stay away from windows because, the police say, there’s a guy out there who might shoot you through them. 

I tend to play the numbers when it comes to things like this. The chances of actually encountering this guy seemed quite small. And yet, some of the checkpoints were just a couple of miles from our cabin, and some of the places we tried to go were closed because of the warnings. And there were those helicopters overhead. We could look off the back porch of this cabin and see that, yeah, those woods are pretty thick back there, and a sniper who knew the land and wanted to hide in them could do so pretty easily.

So one morning during this weekend we were standing on the road looking at this hotel, a little ways down from our cabin, and this photograph was taken. And then a pickup track came down the road and stopped. A dog had its head out one window, and leaning out the other was an old man who asked us what we were doing. He pointed out that this was private property. And we said “We’re just looking at this hotel, we rented a cabin down the road.” And he said, “Well, you boys take your pictures and move along. I’m the caretaker of this property, and everyone is supposed to be inside—there’s a killer on the loose!”

So we packed in the car to leave and I said to my friends: We’re in the woods and in the mountains. We’re looking at a very creepy abandoned hotel. If any place on earth is haunted, it’s this hotel. And suddenly a guy who identifies himself as “The Caretaker” pulls up in a truck and tells us to move along because there is a killer on the loose in the area.

So yeah, that happened. 

  1. Camera: Samsung SM-G900H
  2. Aperture: f/2.2
  3. Exposure: 1/792th
  4. Focal Length: 4mm