Monday, February 18, 2019

Truest statement of the week

Tipped-off by Adams’ conspiring exes, the Times pored over thousands of Adams’ text messages and produced a 5,200-word exposée above the fold in the arts section.
Employing techniques that resemble those employed by the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Times editors deploys their posse of journalistic bounty hunters to search for, seize and sniff the underwear and bed sheets of whoever the editors have targeted for destruction.

If the “newspaper of record” had conducted half as thorough an investigation into the George W. Bush administration’s claims of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, over a million Iraqis and 5,000 US soldiers may still be alive.

-- Eric London, "New York Times places songwriter Ryan Adams in the crosshairs of its #MeToo witch hunt" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

Over the past three years, progressives have engaged in various efforts to gain influence in the Democratic Party, democratize the Party, and elect progressives to office — and the Party has thwarted them and consolidated its power at every step of the way.
In the midterms, the Party that came back to Washington looks virtually indistinguishable from the one that existed before the midterms. In fact, there the Democrats are more corporate than ever, as they were the ones that the DCCC picked to run. The DCCC in turn worked with the finance-friendly Blue Dog Democrats on candidate recruitment.
The "Blue Wave" was another corporate wave.
So here we are three years after progressives embarked on this venture to try to reform the Democratic Party, and we're back to square one essentially, with many saying, “Well, let's try and run a presidential candidate again and hope for the best.”

That's why the work we are doing as the Labor-Community Campaign for an Independent Party (LCCIP) is so important. We and working people are saying, enough is enough, we’ve learned our lesson: What we need in this country is a major new party, a mass-based party of working people, in order to make change.

-- "The Left Must Finally Break With the Democrats: A Discussion with Nick Brana" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Early Monday morning.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Eric London gets another truest.
Nick Brana gets a truest.
Why do we look away when the people of Iraq cannot?
Ava and C.I. turn in an epic piece on documentaries and feminism and facts and portrayals.
It doesn't have to be over for Jussie!
Chaka Khan's "Too Hot."
A lot of attacks turned out to be hoaxes in the last two years.
Margaret Kimberley.
What we listened to while working on this edition.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: No looking away

The Iraq War has become the look-the-other-way war, the what-else-is-on-TV war.

At least, that's what it's become in the United States.

In Iraq, they don't have the luxury of looking the other way.

That's especially true in Falluja where the various bombs dropped and illegal weapons used have resulted in mass birth defects.

Strange dysmorphic features with ambiguous genitalia and imperforated anus born 3 days ago in our hospital and died shortly after birth ( chromosome 13 abnormalities)

About this website
“Strange dysmorphic features with ambiguous genitalia and imperforated anus born 3 days ago in our hospital and died shortly after birth”

Again, they don't have the luxury of looking away in Iraq.

Born today in our hospital

It's really something that we in the US, whose government started this war, think we have the right to look away.

In what world?

TV: Telling stories

Biography is a tricky thing.  There are facts and then there is narrative.  In film, especially, fact-based ones are rarely accurate.  And, over the years, we've learned to appreciate that, for example, Diana Ross captures the spirit of Billie Holiday even if the writers failed to capture Billie in the screenplay for LADY SINGS THE BLUES.*

But while we might forgive a feature film for taking liberties, we're less forgiving about documentaries.  Meaning?  Cary Grant can play Cole Porter as a proud, heterosexual man in NIGHT AND DAY but when PBS' AMERICAN MASTERS series offers YOU'RE THE TOP: THE COLE PORTER STORY we damn well expect to hear the truth (Cole was gay).

Sometimes biographies tell the truth, sometimes they get most of it right, sometimes they're just a horrible lie.  Sometimes they mix it all together.


Saturday, LIFETIME served up two helpings of Olivia Newton-John.  The first was BIOGRAPHY: OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (a documentary) the second was OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU which is a film with Delta Goodrem playing Olivia.

Olivia Newton-John is a singer who placed a top forty hit each year for twelve consecutive years -- a point Casey Kasem often made on his AMERICAN TOP FORTY radio program.  The record would stand until Madonna broke it with her string of consecutive top forty hits from 1989 to 2003**.  27 top forty hits in all with five hitting number one.  She had 13 US country top forty hits.  And she hit the US Adult Contemporary Charts top forty 34 times.  Her hits include "I Honestly Love You," "Have You Ever Been Mellow," "Physical," "Make A Move On Me," "Please, Mister, Please," "A Little More Love," "Deeper Than The Night" and "Heart Attack."

Her hits also include "Hopelessly Devoted To You," "Summer Nights," "You're The One That I Want," "Magic," "Xanadu," "Suddenly," "Twist of Fate," "Livin' In Desperate Times" and "Take A Chance" -- all of those hits are from the three films she starred in: GREASE, XANADU and TWO OF A KIND.  While GREASE was a blockbuster upon release and has gone on to become a film classic, the other two did not fare as well.  Olivia Newton-John is a singer who sometimes acts.

Which is why the documentary was so frustrating.  We think the focus was off as it rushed to emphasize Olivia's films (these three plus a supporting role in SORDID LIVES as well as the TV film A CHRISTMAS ROMANCE).  As a film actress, she has one hit and then two Razzie nominations for Worst Actress (for XANADU and TWO OF A KIND)***.  In the movie, Goodrem's Olivia reads a review which opens, "XANADU is the worst film ever made."  Again, she's a singer.  But the documentary wasn't even interested in chronicling her hits or how they came about.

In the film, Olivia's biggest hit is noted. "Physical" spent ten weeks at number one on the US top forty, went on to become the number one hit of 1982 and the number one hit of the 80s.  In the film, they cover Olivia's hesitation to record it.  They have her being told, "Tina Turner turned it down."  and that "Rod Stewart" did as well, "actually, that's who the guys wrote it for." They have her expressing her doubts about the image the song would portray.  They even feature her recording the video for the song and then performing it live.  That's so much more than the documentary offered on "Physical" or, for that matter, any of the songs she recorded.

Neither the documentary nor the film makes clear that Olivia's friend and early singing partner Pat Carroll went on to marry Olivia's producer and frequent songwriter John Farrar.  The film does have a moment where Olivia and and Carroll note Pat's new married name but there's no real attempt to explain who John Farrar is or what work he did with Olivia Newton-John.

It's probably better to watch the documentary first (though LIFETIME elected to air it after the movie on Saturday).  That way, you'll understand what's happening.  For example, the film has a scene of Olivia after she records her first single where she's then with her mother inside a dwelling looking at a review.  Where are they?  Back in Australia?  No.  Still in London.  As the biography explains, though the movie doesn't, Olivia's mother accompanied her to London.   Other factual problems?  The film has Olivia as a blond long before she leaves Australia (she wasn't a blond then).

In fairness, the film has positives.  This includes Delta Goodrem's performance.  At times, in London, the movie will cut to a different scene by starting it as though it's filmed with a hand held camera and this actually is often more interesting than the full screen method used throughout most of the film.  We also praise the acting of Richard Brancatisano as Matt Lattanzi, Lucy Velik as Helen Reddy and Kate Jenkinso as Pat Carroll Farrar.

In real life, Olivia's daughter Chloe is very unhappy that the film was made.  It's never easy to see your own life onscreen -- even if they get it accurate.  However, we think she should be able to find comfort in the fact that Goodrem and Brancastisano have real chemistry together and her parents'  relationship is the strongest point of the film.

Though each has shortcomings, paired together -- as LIFETIME did on Saturday -- they work to portray a larger truth and picture of Olivia Newton-John.

There are no truths to be found in the so-called documentary BAD REPUTATION.  Watching it (you can rent on AMAZON, HULU subscribers can watch it for free), it's hard to tell who's a bigger liar:  Joan Jett, director Kevin Kerslake or writer Joel Marcus.

At one point, the film talks about how the little nothing -- that's what she was, though the so-called 'documentary' pretends otherwise -- was trying to interest labels with a five song submission tape.  The songs were "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," "Crimson and Clover," "Do You Wanna Touch Me," "You Don't Own Me" and "Bad Reputation."  Joan marvels to the camera that it was turned down, "These people heard five songs, four of which were top twenty hits."

Lie.  Only three were top twenty hits ("I Love Rock 'N Roll," the Tommy James and the Shondell's cover "Crimson and Clover" and the barely scraped the top twenty "Do You Wanna Touch Me").

Everything about Joan is a lie.  Lately, she's a feminist but when she had real power (briefly in 1982) and for years after, she wouldn't use the term.  Only long after her brief career as a charting artist ended did she begin using the term.  And what kind of a feminist hangs out with Iggy Pop anyway?  He brags about statutory rape, writes songs about it (such as "Look Away" where he sings, "I slept with Sable when she was thirteen" about Sable Starr).  What kind of a feminist hangs out with Iggy Pop?

She's the woman who had an affair with Cherrie Curry when they were both in The Runaways -- a minor punk band of the seventies that was rightly ridiculed because they dressed like "pud teasers."  They let a man mold them (Kim Fowley) and were trying to be pin ups.  If you use sex to advance your career, fine, just don't lie about it and whine, years later, about how you weren't taken seriously.   And while they were letting Kim Fowley pimp them out, Cheryl Ladd, then starring in CHARLIE'S ANGELS, noted that it was okay to be sexy but she wasn't going to be a sex object so don't play like people didn't understand the difference 'all those years ago.'

Listening to Billie Joe Armstrong and Kathleen Hanna, who don't know s**t, blather on about the importance of Joan Jett goes to how good of a liar Joan is.  She's hyped herself for so long that what she actually is has no resemblance at all to how the uninformed actually see her.  Kathleen, for example, is blown away that, in 1982, Joan covered "Crimson & Clover" and didn't change the gender.  Here's a shocker for you, Kathleen, in 1980, Carole King covered the hit she and Gerry Goffin wrote, "Hey Girl," and didn't change it to "Hey Boy."  If Kathleen wants to be even more shocked, she might try listening to Cher's top ten hit from 1972 "The Way Of Love" or her 1967 top ten hit "You Better Sit Down Kids."  Kathleen, even Kurt Cobain covered Cher ("Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves") so maybe you should be a little more aware of musical history.

Joan?  She had three top ten hits her entire career. "Well, she was a rock artist."  Want to go to the US rock chart then?  She had two top ten hits her entire career.

She's nothing.  She didn't write "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" and, despite lying to NPR ("With the help of Laguna, Jett formed another band, The Blackhearts. In 1982, the band recorded a cover of the Arrows' song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" which catapulted to the top of the charts. That year, the song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks. And yet, the band still couldn't get a record deal."), the hit was made by Neil Bogart and his record label -- as Bogart had made hits for Donna Summer, Cher and so many others.

Joan's lies are so complex, they're practically cinematic which makes it all the stranger that BAD REPUTATION sidesteps them.  How often do you get a chance to tell a rock and roll ALL ABOUT EVE after all?  Joan Jett had a sexual crush on Suzi Quatro and, after failing to get it on with Suzi, stole Suzi's act and brought it back to the US.  Suzi was a UK artist who had 8 top twenty hits there -- including two number one hits. By all accounts from people at the time, Joan basically stalked Suzi Quatro. As late as 1987, she was admitting to THE WASHINGTON POST that Suzi was a huge influence ("And I thought, if she can do it, I can do it.  And then I saw her a few times and that's where I got the idea for The Runaways"). So how do you make a film about Joan Jett without even mentioning Suzi?

The same way you do a so-called 'documentary' about her without noting that her career was born in the 80s and also died there.

More to the point, if you don't buy into the lie, that Joan Jett, in 1982, broke the ground and women in rock followed through the path she blazed, you don't have a documentary.

She's a copy-cat performer without any original ideas.  Even her so-called unique eye make up look is just a steal from Cher's 60s folk-rock solo look.

Joan didn't break down any walls.  Even before The Runaways, there were the Wilson sisters.  No, not Carnie and Wendy.  They come later.  We mean Ann and Nancy Wilson.  Heart.  Before The Runaways recorded their first album, Heart had already released DREAMBOAT ANNIE with the rock classics "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You." In addition, Fleetwood Mac had already recorded "Rhiannon" (the song Stevie Nicks wrote and sang lead on -- and the Mac had two women in the group: Stevie and Christine).

Maybe, like nut case Iggy Pop, you want to disown Joni Mitchell.  Even if you do, other women still predate Joan Jett.  There's Tina Turner, for example, who not only played the Acid Queen before Joan ever recorded one note, but Tina also hit with "Come Together," "Honky Tonk Women" and other rock songs.  There's a reason she's the Queen of Rock.  And it takes a lot of racism on the part of Joan Jett, director Kevin Kerslake and writer Joel Marcus to pretend otherwise.

It's an interesting world that writes out Tina or Etta James or Grace Slick or Michelle Phillips or Cass Elliot or Ruth Brown or Cher or Carole King or Odetta or Ronnie Gilbert or Janis Ian or Buffy Sainte-Marie or Laura Nyro or the Pleasure Seekers (Suzi Quatro's first band) or Judy Henske or Wanda Jackson or Goldie and the Gingerbreads or Carolyn Hester or Bonnie Raitt or Janis Joplin or Fanny or Jean Ritchie or Joy of Cooking (2 female members: pianist Toni Brown and guitarist Terry Garthwaite) or Moe Tucker or Hedy West or The Go-Gos (who hite number one on the album charts a year before Joan Jett hit with "I Love Rock 'N' Roll") or Chrissie Hynde (whose group Pretenders also hit the charts before Joan Jett) or Tina Weymouth or Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Patti Smith or . . .

Patti Smith.  That's the interesting thing about the documentary, if you think about it while you watch.  Is Joan trying to sound like Patti?  Joan speaks to the camera in the documentary.  It's a voice some may think it authentic.  If they do, you have to wonder if they fell asleep during the documentary.  In the film, interview clip after interview clip -- with The Runaways and solo -- reveal a different speaking voice for Joan.  Yes, the years have deepened her voice.  But we're talking about her pronunciation and her accent.  She's so of the Bowery these days that she's about as real as Madonna's British accent.

Joan, and the documentary, want you to know she's the first woman anyone ever threw something at while the woman performed onstage.  Too bad for them both, LIFETIME's Olivia documentary has Olivia discussing things being thrown at her when she and three female friends performed in their first group.

If Joan were honest, she'd admit that she's basically a flash in the pan like Falco and so many other 80s artists.  She never really carved out a charting career.  She's managed to eek out a living via performing which is good because she didn't write "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" so she gets no songwriter or publishing royalties off that hit.  She didn't write her other top five hit -- Tommy James and Pete Lucia Jr. wrote "Crimson and Clover."  It's not just that she copped everything she has as a singer from Suzi Quatro or that she borrows the 60s garage band sound.  Madonna, after all, copied everyone.  But Madonna managed to reassemble all of it into something unique and new.  Joan Jett really is Suzi's Leather Tuscadaro from the sitcom HAPPY DAYS.  She's a joke.  We all are aware, aren't we, that while Joan's strumming on songs, up until 1994, the actual guitar work is being done by Ricky Byrd, the Blackhearts' lead guitarist?****

Lots of jokes get away with lying about themselves.

But most of them don't erase the work of women to do so.  That's what Joan Jett and the film BAD REPUTATION do -- and there's nothing feminist about that.  FEMINIST THEORISTS: THREE CENTURIES OF KEY WOMEN THINKERS ends with Dale Spender exploring how men steal and erase the work of women.  Watching BAD REPUTATION, we realize that they frequently do this with the willing help and active support of women.  Again, there's nothing feminist about Joan Jett's actions.

* Suzanne de Passe, Chris Clark and Terence McCloy wrote the screenplay for LADY SINGS THE BLUES -- that's an important detail (and they were nominated for an Academy Award) but one that makes an already complex sentence even more unwieldy.

** The record was actually held by Diana Ross who sang lead on at least one top forty hit from 1964 through 1977 -- 13 years. 

*** Madonna 'bested' Olivia here as well.  While Olivia was only nominated (twice) for a Razzie for Worst Actress, Madonna's actually taken home the trophy -- five times -- for SHANGHAI SURPRISE, WHO'S THAT GIRL, BODY OF EVIDENCE, THE NEXT BEST THING and SWEPT AWAY.

**** Joan Jett does not become lead guitarist of the Blackhearts after Ricky Byrd leaves, she just keeps hiring men to be the lead guitarist.

10 roles Jussie Smollett could convincingly portray

early april fool

It looks bad for Jussie Smollett these days, as Isaiah notes in THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Early April Fool."

But when one door closes, another opens.

There are many roles that Jussie can still play even if, as some are saying he should, he ends up behind bars.

1) THE AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON STORY.  Prison would be the perfect place to stage an all male production of a play -- or musical? -- about the 'faith healer' and con artist who staged her own kidnapping for greater publicity.  Jussie would be a vision in white and, as Aretha might have asked, "how'd he get his pants so tight?"

2) I LOST MY BREATH UNDER WATER.  In prison or out, Jussie would be perfect to play New Jersey state Congressman David Friedland who, with his father, took approximately $360,000 in kickbacks and, when caught by the FBI and convicted in court, decided to skip out on sentencing, go to the Bahamas and fake his own death in a scuba diving 'accident.'  David, like Jussie, thought he was too smooth and ended up opening a chain of scuba shops after his 'death' which is how US authorities finally caught up with him.

3) KIDNAPPED FOR AN F.  Jussie would play the 19-year-old college student Aftab Aslam who, after receiving an F in English at Georgia's Gwinnett College, faked his own kidnapping to get sympathy from his parents.  He texted them that if they contacted the police, Aftab would be killed. Eight days later, he returned to his parents insisting that he had been tortured and held prisoner.  He ended up not only with an F but also with three felony charges.

4) ALAN KNIGHT IS SLEEPING.  In this production, Jussie would play Alan Knight, a man from Wales who successfully and repeatedly pretended to be in a coma throughout a two year period every time the police caught on to yet another of his cons.  If he's out of prison when he plays this role, we would recommend Ellen Page play Knight's wife who was in on the cons and the fake comas.

5) MARCH? I CAN'T EVEN WALK!  The big scene in this courtroom drama would have Jussie crying -- like he did with Robin Roberts last week on GOOD MORNING AMERICA -- in a courtroom while he played 27-year-old Jeffrey Rush who faked being paralyzed to con the government out of $300,000 and to avoid deploying to Iraq.  As he cries in court, Rush (Jussie) pleads for the judge to at least show mercy on his wife (again, Ellen Page) who was also in on the con.

6) TURN YOUR HEAD AND COUGH.  Jussie plays 51-year-old Alodis Reynolds.  In this drama, his girlfriend (again, Ellen Page -- she really needs the work) helps Alodis raise money in Oklahoma from their church because Alodis has cancer.  Only, he doesn't have cancer and when the girlfriend finds out the truth, she turns him in to the police.

7)  THE NATHAN PHILLIPS STORY.  This one is a challenge for Jussie because he can actually sing.  But he'll play Native American Nathan Phillips which will require him to ask where he can buy some moccasins and bang a drum out of rhythm while snarling at young children.  He'll be presented as a national hero and Vietnam War veteran only for people to discover he lied -- over and over, he lied -- about serving in the Vietnam War.  Ellen Page shows up for this production for no real reason other than she needs a check.  Sarah Jessica Parker also joins the cast in the small role of Nathan's service dog.

8) BUT I PAYED THE PREMIUMS!  In this comic adventure, set in China, Jussie plays 34-year-old He Yong who fakes his own death for the life insurance money.  But as he hides out, the police tell his wife (Ellen Page -- she really needs the money) that her husband is presumed dead.  Posting to social media her grief, the woman then drowns herself and her two children (both played by Ellen Page who desperately needs money).  This leads to the pivotal scene where a grieving He Yung cries out, over the grave of his wife, "I'm so stupid for hiding my plan from you."  Like Jussie, He Yong missed the point.  The stupidity was staging his own death, not just forgetting to tell his wife that he had.

9)  I'LL HAVE WHAT I'M HAVING.  In this romantic comedy, directed by Jussie supporter Ava Duvernay, Jussie is a carefree New Yorker who falls for an angry misanthrope played by Ellen Page.  Ellen only grows angrier when she learns that Jussie is able to fake his orgasms.  The film is loosely based on the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article entitled "MEN WHO FAKE ORGASMS."

10)  SOMEWHERE JAMES DEAN IS SCREWING MARILYN MONROE.  In this surrealistic fantasy drama, James Dean faked his own death to escape the pressure of fame.  Jussie plays James Dean who then convinces Marilyn Monroe to fake her own death as well.  Ellen Page has a small role as Sal Mineo and repeatedly cries, "Do you think the end of the world will come at nighttime?"

Track of the week

Chaka Khan's "Too Hot" off her new album HELLO HAPPINESS (Kat reviews the album here).

Kamala gets served

You must have been a great prosecutor jumping to conclusions without any evidence.

Andy Ngo breaks down the hoaxes

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }