The Healing Power of Carbon Neutrality

carbonNeutralLogos

Terrific news! We’ve discovered a handgun company, Gang Green Firearms, whose entire product line is certifiably carbon neutral. They have certificates that say so.

Their pistols and automatics do what all other guns do – shoot bullets that kill living creatures – but, even so, you’ve got to admit that a carbon neutral gun has less negative impact on the environment and society than one that contributes greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. You could say that by being carbon neutral, the “bad” product has become “good,” and if not good then at least “acceptable.”

It’s miraculous and wonderful is what it is.

Those who would dismiss this marvelous achievement in handgun carbon neutrality as mere marketing propaganda are missing the more important point: Sure, it’s marketing, but at least it’s true!

We can all agree that any corporate product that is harmful to society, any corporate product that diminishes social . . . → Read More: The Healing Power of Carbon Neutrality

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Portland Mavericks BBB

It seems impossible today. But from 1973-1977, before corporate control of America became nearly absolute, the Portland Mavericks, a Class A minor league baseball franchise, played independently, without any Major League Baseball affiliation. Competing against future Yankees and Dodgers (and the giant organizations that bankroll them), the Mavs improbably ruled the competitive Pacific League, fielding an adult roster of Bad News Bears assembled with the aid of an open try-out. Their owner-leader was the actor Bing Russell, a man for whom the description “larger-than-life” is only a little hyperbolic. The sensational documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” tells his story. Whether or not you like baseball, Hollywood, or Don Quixote, Bing and his Bastards will amaze, delight and inspire.

Century of the Self

Century-of-Self

Originally released in 2002, Adam Curtis’s “Century of the Self” was a four-part series on the BBC that examined how Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology have been employed (and refined) by the rich and powerful to control the dangerous impulses of the masses. Much of this dazzlingly entertaining yarn focuses on Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, the “father of public relations” and one of the earliest political consultants to apply advertising principles to elections and governance. Anna Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and other titans of 20th Century mind-manipulators make cameos. Throughout, Curtis makes a convincing case that our current state of hyper-narcissism and egocentrism is anything but an accident.

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

perverts-guide-to-ideology

Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a charming public intellectual whose accented-English, absentminded nose-wiping, and obvious enthusiasm for Ideas make him a kind of ambassador of deep thinking. In the 2012 documentary “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology,” directed by Sophie Fiennes, Zizek delivers dazzling deconstructions of many popular films, showing how they function as instruments of ideology and propaganda. Jaws, Titanic, Taxi Driver — they all contain subtle (and not so subtle) cues that encourage the viewer to believe and accept a prevailing ideology, much like “Triumph of the Will” worked for the Nazis. Zizek, and “The Guide” are provocative and highly entertaining, often more so than the movies he analyzes.

Poem: What’s in There?

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You could say our addiction to convenience and comfort has been successfully repackaged as the highest end for our brilliant technological means.

Or, you could say that we’re in the grip of a nationwide plague. Of…A.D.D.

Or, you could say we’re simply a country of poorly developed adult minds with the collective attention span of squirrels during mating season.

Or, you could look up, my fellow fool – if you can tear yourself away from the sacred screen.

You’ll see discontented Americans waddling morosely to their cars, wondering why having more of everything hasn’t yet made them happier about anything.

No one smiles at me on the street, anymore. Yeah, that bond has been broken. We can’t look each other in the eye.

Because we’re all face-down in our palms, making marvelous use of the opposable thumbs God gave us and our fellow monkeys. They’re digging for grubs. We’re digging . . . → Read More: Poem: What’s in There?

Matt McCarthy

Matt McCarthy

Comedians have their strengths. Some are good with “paper” — prepared written material. Some are expert improvisers. Some create indelible characters. And a few, the rare ones, can do it all. Matt McCarthy, a longtime New York comic currently destroying Los Angeles, has got the magic. We’ve seen him in several realms, including bar-raising sets at Troy Conrad’s comedy-improv shows “Prompter” and “Set List,” and he’s amazed and delighted in every setting. You might have seen him in TV commercials or heard him on his wrestling podcast — he was a writer for the WWE before joining The Pete Holmes Show staff. But when you experience McCarthy live, you’ll understand why both audiences and fellow comics consider him a unique sensation.

Brandon Wardell

young brandon wardell

Remarkable comedic talent in young people is easy to spot. It presents itself insistently and clearly. What the precocious possessor of the talent will do with it — develop it or let it wither — is hard to predict (as demonstrated by our previous comedy New Discoveries). In the case of DC-raised, Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell, 22, we have a hunch that he’s going to be making people laugh for a long time. Already, he’s a fine joke writer and a confident orator, with flashes of conceptual brilliance that recall Bo Burnham, another young man intent on doing his own thing. We sense in Brandon Wardell a nascent artistry, a growing acceptance of his comic individuality. It should be an interesting journey to watch.

Redskins Forever!

washington-redskins-logo

The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.

Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”

Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!

Poem: A Brief Autobiography

clitboys_1

I was a punk rocker. A real one. Original Midwestern Hardcore Punk Thrash

loud and fast and angry enough to convey the depths of agony

residing in our adolescent breasts, the unspeakable (only screamable) pain

of being trapped like a bear in a sharp leg clamp,

tortured by the knowledge that we were ensnared in a system

we wouldn’t choose except under the threat of torture, and maybe not even then.

Not having a choice: “I want to have high ideals, I want to love mankind,

trust my fellow man, be loving true and kind – but everyone tells me ‘No!’ Everyone tells me

‘No such thing!’” That’s what upset us so in those naïve days before

we figured out how it’s all arranged.

 

For a minute or some decades of my life I learned

to play the game, the same one I . . . → Read More: Poem: A Brief Autobiography

Poem: Thumbs

an intimate conversation

Thumbs are what distinguish us

from the less important creatures below us on the chain of food.

Thumbs are why we eat them

and not the other way around.

Maybe this explains our fascination, our absence of humiliation

our willingness to stare and unwillingness to care

for life outside our glowing screens.

Some in the figuringit-all-out business will soon announce

the total triumph of opposition,

of digits doing what dogs cannot.

Others will say something else.

Noise, distortion, clamor, cacophony, a persistent buzz and thrackle.

 

We are amazed delighted liberated by our clever thumbs,

all the poems that they create

flying over keyboards, whose appetite we sate

by pressing here and pushing there,

underlining our aliveness

for emphasis,

for an uplifting reminder

we have thumbs.