You’ve seen Classic Krusty interview George Meany. But have you seen the real thing? You have now. From September 1952.
When Mr. Bowie moved to Berlin, Mr. Pop occupied a room in Mr. Bowie’s apartment there “over the auto parts store,” he said. The title song for Mr. Pop’s next album, “Lust for Life,” germinated in that apartment.
Mr. Pop and Mr. Bowie, seated on the floor — they had decided chairs were not natural — were waiting for the Armed Forces Network telecast of “Starsky & Hutch.” The network started shows with a call signal that, Mr. Pop said, went “beep beep beep, beep beep beep beep, beep beep beep,” the rhythm, which is also like a Motown beat, that was the foundation for “Lust for Life.” Mr. Pop recalled, “He wrote the [chord] progression on ukulele, and he said, ‘Call it “Lust for Life,” write something up.’”
The amount of cocaine involved in this story is unknown at this time.
Back in June, I asked people what show I should watch. After some consideration, I briefly started watching Orange is the New Black, which I found basically fine but never got super into. I’ve watched 7 or 8 episodes at this point. I may well go back to it.
But over the past month, I did watch two series. The first was Narcos. This I find, well, OK. As a dumb evening entertainment, it totally works. As something that’s actually interesting, it’s far less effective. Really, it’s a wasted opportunity. It was originally designed to be a long movie in the recent famous international gangster biopic genre that has included Carlos and Mesrine. But despite the added time a television show offers, both of those films are a lot better than Narcos. They decided on two seasons. The first covers almost all the time Pablo Escobar is around, up to the point where he flees his private prison. The second will evidently cover the chase and eventual killing of Escobar. That seems a bit skewed to me and I wonder whether the chase will really be enough for a season. So when I say it’s a wasted opportunity, the makers of this show could have slowed this down consistently, moved it over 4 seasons, and actually said something interesting about Colombia. But there is almost nothing revealing about Colombia at all. The show is framed through an exceptionally boring character as the American DEA agent who describes all of this as Colombian magical realism where anything can happen. That’s a total fail. First, there were actual understandable political, economic, and cultural reasons why drug lords like Escobar rose up. It’s not that we can’t understand that story, it’s that the show creators chose not to tell it. Second, there’s nothing magical realism about this show. It’s just a gangster doing gangster things, if on an exceptionally violent scale. The politics of the show, which basically come down strongly in favor of the Reagan-era War on Drugs aren’t great either. This is a particularly damning indictment of the show.
But again, as a kind of dumb entertainment in the evening, it’s enjoyable enough if you don’t think about it and I’ll probably watch season 2.
I also went back and finally watched the John Adams HBO miniseries. I found this to be mostly alright. I can nitpick it–Franklin and Jefferson are almost stereotypes with the former being so witty and the latter using his tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots in line in general conversation, there aren’t a lot of well-developed characters outside of Adams himself. But it’s hard to see how it could really be better than this. It shows Adams to be the unpleasant crank that was his nature. There is a very Third Way atmosphere around the show as it portrays him as the reasonable leader splitting the difference between the revolutionary Jefferson and the megalomaniac Hamilton, suggesting Adams provided the real leadership this country needed, if only we could have such independent thinkers today, etc. But whatever. The last episode was highly unnecessary as watching his daughter die, Abigail die, and then Adams himself die is not very interesting and the rekindling of the correspondence with Jefferson not interesting enough to sustain it. Adams basically didn’t do anything in the last 25 years of his life. The show could have ended in 1801. But I am being too critical. Giamatti was excellent (and actually looked like Adams) and while at times Laura Linney didn’t have enough to do, she was of course quite good as Abigail. Tom Wilkinson was fine as Franklin and Danny Huston as Samuel Adams the same. So I enjoyed it a good bit.
I suppose this means I should pay attention to the Hamilton thing, although I am highly skeptical of venerating the creator of the Alien and Sedition Acts, one of the worst and most dangerous laws in American history. As I have said before, there is no leftist Hamilton for us to follow, although that’s more because we shouldn’t be taking 250 year old men out of context instead of finding more recent inspirations. But for Adams or Hamilton, it’s just useful to have people genuinely thinking about the Federalist Era through different forms of popular culture.
I guess I’m going to try this Jessica Jones thing starting tonight. The genre is not very interesting to me as I have no interest in comic books, but the reviews are positive and it’s only one season so a low investment. Although if this show ends with Bryan Cranston watching her choke to death on her own vomit, I’m not going to be able to deal. Will probably watch The Americans and Show Me a Hero after that.
You’ll thank me for the theme song and Bucky Dent, if not the fine, fine acting and disco. Not to mention Jane Seymour and Bert Convy.
Paul Booth, a historian at Keele University in England, found three examples dating from 1310 and 1311 of a man known in legal documents as Roger Fuckebythenavel.
Booth said he believes Roger was not the bearer of a very unfortunate family name, but rather it was given to him derogatorily.
“This surname is presumably a nickname,” Booth told Medievalists.net. “I suggest it could either mean an actual attempt at copulation by an inexperienced youth, later reported by a rejected girlfriend, or an equivalent of the word ‘dimwit,’ i.e., a man who might think that that was the correct way to go about it.”
If Roger actually tried to do it in the navel and someone told the world about it, the name could be “fourteenth-century revenge porn,” Booth told Vice.
Booth noted that Roger was before the court three times over a nine-month period, and each time his last name was spelled differently: Fuckebythenavele, Fukkebythenavele and, finally, Fuckebythenavel.
“On the first two occasions he was ‘exacted’ (solemnly summoned to attend court to answer a serious criminal charge, which is unspecified) and on the third he was outlawed,” Booth wrote in an abstract, titled “Roger the incompetent copulator,” that he posted online. “He was probably never heard of again.”
Speaking of blue language, I am reviewing a book for a journal that noted that Gifford Pinchot named the real-life Seth Bullock as an early Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest. This was because Pinchot needed to establish USFS legitimacy in the face of widespread opposition and Bullock was a popular figure and friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Among Bullock’s ideas was offering bounties on squirrel hides because he believed they ate the eggs of woodpeckers who feasted on the bark beetles eating the area’s pine trees.
I am trying to imagine Deadwood-style dialogue for this scenario? And how would Al Swearingen play into this? I think the Deadwood movie might have a plot!
Above: The greatest television character in the medium’s history
I have a conundrum. I need a new TV show to watch. Now, I’m pretty behind on the TV revolution. Because of my commitment to film, I tend to go through TV shows slowly. Basically, I’ve watched the entire series or am caught up currently on Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. I watched the first season of The Sopranos (finally) last summer and then set it aside to finish Breaking Bad and rewatch Deadwood, i.e., the greatest show in television history. I just finished Deadwood. So what to do next?
I ask because I am really torn on trying to watch Game of Thrones. Here’s the thing–I have an inherent dislike for anything revolving around fantasy or science fiction. Those genres of storytelling I find usually pretty uninteresting since I find the present and past more than interesting enough and generally more plausible in terms of storytelling. Even the science fiction I do like–Tarkovsky’s Solaris for instance, is not exactly the norm for the genre.
So I was initially inclined against it. But on the other hand, I like anything that is really well done. So I could watch Game of Thrones if it’s really that good. And I was leaning in that direction, despite not caring for the genre. But reading what people are saying about this season, it’s like there’s an abusive relationship between the show and its fans, with a lot of people recoiling in horror but continuing to watch (or not). I don’t mind violence on the screen. I do have a very limited, like pretty close to zero, tolerance to depictions of sexual violence. Especially if they are more than a one-time event.
So given all this, should I watch Game of Thrones, if for nothing else so I can understand what everyone is talking about? Or should I go back and finish The Sopranos? Or finally check out Boardwalk Empire, Treme, or another of the HBO dramas I haven’t seen? Or Orange is the New Black? I was really inclined toward Justified, but it’s not on Netflix and it’s hard to justify subscribing to yet another service.
I’m teaching as this comes up. I hope for 200 comments by the time I get home at 10.
….I also watched True Detective, which I thought was pretty good.
….Given that we are basically a Game of Thrones blog, I find it interesting that no one has really given a full-throated defense of the show telling me I must watch.
Well, this is it. I have to say that after Season 6, I was really down on the show, but both halves of Season 7 have been excellent. My prediction, which no doubt will be proven wrong shortly, is that the final episode consists of nothing but Don. Maybe Sally or Betty. But all other story lines in the advertising agency have been finished. Given that Roger Sterling is one of the greatest supporting characters in TV history, it’s kind of too bad.
…I was fantastically wrong! Also, cocaine! Mad Men has reached the 70s!
Dave Zirin has an excellent essay about reconsidering The Wire in the wake of the police murdering Freddie Gray. And he’s right–one thing missing from the show is how the police are actively part of the oppression of the poor and African-Americans in Baltimore and a second thing missing from the show are community activists and people standing up to make their own lives better. Doesn’t mean it’s not a great show, but it really is far from a complete view of the problems that have create modern Baltimore.
Deadwood is probably my favorite show of all time. That’s for many reasons–the story, the amazing acting of Ian McShane and Brad Dourif among many others, the language. But among the reasons is the way the show gets at the filth and nastiness of the late 19th century. Some people didn’t like it because the show seemed so over the top in language, violence, and the general portrayal of that society. But while people didn’t exactly speak like the characters of Deadwood, the overall brutality was actually quite accurate, especially considering this is a wild frontier town.
I was reminded of this when recently reading Sharon Wood’s The Freedom of the Streets: Work, Citizenship, and Sexuality in a Gilded Age City. This book is about prostitution and gendered conceptions of the streets in late 19th and early 20th century Davenport, Iowa. Wood put together the lives of women who get called prostitutes (regardless of whether they were by modern standards or not). Remember how in Deadwood women like Trixie and Joanie Stubbs were sold to pimps? That was not uncommon at all.
Josie Mitchell was a downwardly mobile woman who ended up opening a brothel. Her daughter Sevilla married a man at the age of 15. He was soon selling her out as a prostitute and living on the proceeds. Minnie Hagan was homeless at the age of 13 and working as a prostitute to eat. She came from a broken home. She remained a prostitute during her marriage, which was to a pretty violent man. He eventually shot her in the head, but she survived.
Moreover, the age of consent in Iowa until the 1890s was 10. That’s right. 10. As it was in most states. This meant that if a girl came from a house not considered “respectable,” she was open game for sexual exploitation by men without legal means to punish them. It also meant that statutory rape charges could not be issued against men who had sex with young girls. In September 1891, a 10 year old Davenport girl named Ada Ammerman disappeared from her home. After three days she and two other young girls named Dolly Hamerly and Mamie Woods were discovered. Their clothes were soaked with semen. Three men were soon arrested and charged with 8 counts of rape. But they were found not guilty. While reformers wanted to end this practice and save these girls, men, including the entire political establishment of the city, defended the sporting men’s right to sexually use women they found on the streets. Rather, the defense successfully used the argument that these girls’ families had failed the city by allowing their girls on the street where they would be irresistible to men. The girls were already prostitutes by coming from poor families and being on the street. These girls were publicly tainted with this definition of them. Soon after this, Dolly Hamerly was sold to a brothel by her family. Eventually, this trial and other similar events led Iowa to raise the age of consent. To the ripe old age of 13.
In other words, Deadwood‘s portrayal of its prostitutes was not inaccurate. Unfortunately because in knowing that you also know the brutal real stories of women in the 1890s who lacked economic options to do much of anything outside of prostitution if they were poor and who were considered open game on the streets if they did not come from respectable families.
Scott Baio — who played Chachi Arcola in “Happy Days” and its spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi,” as well as the protagonist of “Charles in Charge” — tweeted his praise for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is mulling a presidential run in 2016.
“Gov. Walker sounds a lot like President Reagan. #WalkerFor Pres,” the tweet read, with a picture of the actor posing alongside Walker.
Walker tweeted back Wednesday, writing: “Thanks! We both love Reagan, I’m flattered,” along with the hashtag #ChachiandWalkerLoveReagan.
I realize that the all-important Victoria Jackson endorsement is out there still. So maybe the election isn’t over quite yet.
It’s hard to imagine The Daily Show without Jon Stewart, but this is probably a good time for him to leave. Once the 2016 elections start, it would be awfully hard to leave. I haven’t watched The Daily Show regularly in years, really since Obama took office. For me, the real value of the show was therapy during the Bush years. I know it’s still good because politicians are still venal and Republicans are still crazier than loons so fresh material keeps on flowing but I kind of moved on. I have no idea who will replace Stewart and I can’t imagine stepping into those shoes. The show should be considered pretty legendary though in the annals of television, with Stewart a visionary figure on the level of Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby (regardless of his crimes) and other great comedians who transformed television.
Plus destroying the first iteration of Crossfire in one segment earns him all the accolades.
I don’t know why Jim Harbaugh decided to take the Michigan job when he could have returned to his fine acting career.