Frann Michel's blog

Thirst: a documentary on water privatization battles

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The documentary Thirst, directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, is available though the Multnomah County Library.

It’s a fitting topic for a day devoted to remembering Martin Luther King, Jr, since King’s work recognized the power of grassroots political action and, in his later years, also acknowledged the need for economic restructuring.

po lice

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The Prologue to Dario Fo’s 1970 play Accidental Death of an Anarchist explains that in late 1969 there were a number of bomb incidents in Italian cities.
Milan police arrested an anarchist and accused him of the crime. At a certain point in his interrogation, the anarchist flew out the window of the police station. Something similar occurred in New York in 1921, when the anarchist Salsedo flew out the window of a police station, around the same time that Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for a crime never proven against them. From these stories we can conclude that many anarchists are obsessed by the urge to jump out of the window, because they believe they are able to fly.

The Iron Heel

Last year, Penguin Books issued a new edition of Jack London’s 1908 novel The Iron Heel. Probably London’s fullest fictional presentation of his socialist views, it’s a book that Leon Trotsky, some thirty years later, called a “prophetic vision” of “fascism, of its economy, of its governmental technique, its political psychology. . . . Jack London foresaw and described the fascist regime as the inevitable result of the defeat of the proletarian revolution.” The book has its flaws, as Trotsky acknowledged, though I would include that sense of inevitability as one of them.

on zombies

I’ve been thinking about zombie movies, of which the twenty-first century has seen a resurgence. The zombie movie database lists nearly 1600 films since the year 2000, though that includes shorts, tv shows, and direct to video releases. Still, many of those have been quite successful theatrical features. In 2002, we got 28 Days Later, and this year its sequel, 28 Weeks Later. In 2004, we saw a remake of George Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead, as well as the British horror comedy Shaun of the Dead.

knocked up

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Reviewed on the Old Mole Variety Hour 6/11/07, Knocked Up was written and directed by Judd Apatow, best known for The 40 Year Old Virgin, and the director of photography was Portland native Eric Edwards. It’s a beautifully shot film, and it’s been getting enthusiastically positive reviews (especially at sites like Reviews for Guys and Movies for Guys).

the pain of our inner troops

The Well-Read Red on the Old Mole Variety Hour 6/4/07 Earlier this year, the mainstream press discovered that there are problems with veteran’s health care. The scandal of dilapidated buildings and untreated soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center led to a series of firings and resignations. But, as even the commercial press is aware, being a veteran is still no guarantee of access to health care. Stories reflecting on this fact imply that veterans have an extra claim to medical attention. Perhaps they do, but we should be wary of suggesting that there is anyone who doesn’t have a right to health care.

habeas corpus and restoring the constitution?

The Well-Read Red on the Old Mole Variety Hour Someone in Washington must have finally taken to heart the bumper sticker that says, “Ok, joke’s over. Bring back the constitution” because there’s now a bill in both houses called the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.”

kiss me deadly

Kiss Me Deadly will be playing this coming weekend (April 28th & 29th) as part of the Northwest Film Center’s Film Noir series, “Killer Ladies.” In the 1940s and 50s, Film Noir combined the grim vision of the American hard-boiled detective novel with the dramatic camera angles and lighting of German expressionist cinema, and Kiss Me Deadly is considered a late masterpiece of the genre. Directed in 1955 by Robert Aldrich, the film draws its title, though little else, from a Mickey Spillane book. It opens with a barefoot woman in a trenchcoat stopping a car on a dark road. The hitchhiker, Christina Bailey, played by Cloris Leachman, and the driver, private detective Mike Hammer, played by Ralph Meeker, are themselves stopped by mysterious thugs who torture them and leave them for dead. Mike survives, and his subsequent interrogation by interstate police convinces him that he’s on to something big, and potentially profitable. With the help of his secretary Velda, played by Maxine Cooper, he pursues the secret that Christina was hiding, and along the way encounters her supposed former roommate, Lily Carver, played by Gaby Rogers, as well as an opera singer, an art dealer, a number of boxers, and assorted cops, thugs, and other sadists wielding knives, guns, and hypodermic needles.

queer morality

The Well-Read Red on the Old Mole Variety Hour

Last month, General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members by saying that "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.” He apparently did not comment on the morality of, say, invading a country and directly or indirectly causing the deaths of approximately 655,000 individuals.

Old Mole Underground

From the Well-read Red, January, 2006:

What is this “old mole,” and how can a mole root down a mountain? We can trace the figure of the “old mole” back to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the first act, the ghost of Hamlet’s father speaks from beneath the ground (or beneath the stage), following and echoing Hamlet’s demand that his comrades keep secret what they’ve seen. In reaction to the ghost’s pursuit and speech, Hamlet says, Well said, old mole! canst work i' the earth so fast? / A worthy pioneer!”

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