Cold, cold sunshine.

The catering gig was a mixed bag. I miscalculated for lunch, and came up short by about three people. Of course it’s embarrassing and unfair; the people who come to lunch last are frequently the hardest-working of the crew, and you feel bad that they have to settle for peanut butter. But I miscalculated on two fronts — the weather (freezing) and the fact this is a war movie, and young men possess the sorts of appetites that make mothers all over the world put off buying new clothes, for fear of running short for the groceries. Should have doubled the chili.

But we did OK at dinner (lasagna), and I felt somewhat redeemed. When people are working for nothing — and with every one of these things we do, we get more people, and they work harder — the least you can do is feed them.

I mentioned the weather. Boy, did it suck. A front blew through Friday night with tornado watches and violent thunderstorms, followed by temperatures that didn’t touch 50 degrees all day, with a steady 25-30 mile per hour wind, many stronger gusts. In other words: Suckitude. And I was inside all day. A memo ahead of time mentioned the need to keep lots of water on set, as some of the actors would be wearing rubberized costumes and would need to hydrate frequently. Ha ha. They were the lucky ones.

But that’s water gone by, and now we look forward. I had lots of down time between meals, and spent it catching up on my web-surfing. As Monday is my busiest day, I offer you plenty of bloggage:

Beautiful Lena Horne, gone at 92. I saw her a few months back in “Cabin in the Sky,” which TMC was showing during Oscar month. Fun fact from her NYT obit:

One number she shot for that film, “Ain’t It the Truth,” which she sang while taking a bubble bath, was deleted before the film was released — not for racial reasons, as her stand-alone performances in other MGM musicals sometimes were, but because it was considered too risqué.

She had the va-va, and certainly the voom.

Why Two-Newspaper Towns are Good, this chuckle from the Detroit News. Short version: New pedestrian bridge opens in Detroit, is instantly hit by taggers. Surveillance cameras clearly show one of the taggers is a Free Press copy editor and blogger, whose blog frequently mourns the collapse in civility and good citizenship. Here’s the passage that caught my eye, from her spectacularly lame mea culpa:

I was excited when I saw the bench and that people had written on it and wanted to add my tag to it. That’s what we did in New York City when I was young: We put our tags on the park benches.

Social scientists speak frequently of “new norms.” There’s one, right there.

Deadspin has a remarkable document, a letter of castigation by the owner of a party lodge where the Miami University chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority had their spring formal. Short version: They arrived drunk, got drunker, puked everywhere, peed in the sinks, pooped in the bushes. Miami University had a reputation, when I was growing up in Ohio, as academically rigorous, preppy, snotty and very Greek. The Pi Phis at Miami would be 10 times worse, on all measures, than those at Ohio University, where I went to school. I guess that’s …changed.

Via Lance, Digby on the Kent State shootings. She quotes Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” on the reaction to the tragedy:

When it was established that none of the four victims were guardsmen, citizens greeted each other by flashing four fingers in the air (“The score is four / And next time more”). The Kent paper printed pages of letters for weeks, a community purgation: “Hurray! I shout for God and Country, recourse to justice under law, fifes, drums, marshal music, parades, ice cream cones – America – support it or leave it.” “Why do they allow these so-called educated punks, who apparently know only how to spell four-lettered words, to run loose on our campuses tearing down and destroying that which good men spent years building up? …”

…A rumor spread in Kent that Jeff Miller, whose head was blown off, was such a dirty hippie that they had to keep the ambulance door open on the way to the hospital for the smell. Another rumor was that five hundred Black Panthers were on their way from elsewhere in Ohio to lead a real riot; and that Allison Krause was “the campus whore” and found with hand grenades on her.

As Digby, and Lance, point out: Ann Coulter et al is nothing new in this country.

Hank Stuever on Betty White in the WashPost, and on his own blog, the SNL Homowatch. From the blog, after the Scared Straight sketch:

I would need several thousand words to dissect why America has always thought prison rape is so hilarious. (Not only hilarious, but acceptable. We are a culture that believes strongly in “don’t drop the soap” jokes as a normal way to taunt criminals; indeed, we seem to hope that our most offensive male criminals will in fact be repeatedly raped by other men in prison; “making” someone your “bitch” is recess playground vernacular now.)

And because I’m late getting to this, Hank, again, on why writers should tackle the subjects that scare them. Wise words, those. And now, I’m off.

Posted at 10:02 am in Current events, Movies, Popculch |

34 responses to “Cold, cold sunshine.”

  1. coozledad said on May 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

    The right’s always stood up and cheered at the shooting of people. It juices them. If the Kent State protests had morphed into a protest on the order of Tiananmen square, Nixon would happily have nationalized guard units from his Mississippi and Alabama constituencies to hunt down and kill hippies.
    After McVeigh roasted a bunch of Americans, I remember carrying fan magazines for him to the trailer parks and killbilly weapons ranges around Oxford, NC. They were hanging on his every word. A few of them wound up working for Blackwater once they got a real opportunity to act out.

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  2. Jeff Borden said on May 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I’m glad Nancy raised the KSU shootings and the times in which they occurred.

    My students often talk about how deeply divided the country is these days, how conservatives and liberals, reds and blues, urban and rural, are seemingly at each other’s throats.

    And as the resident old fart, it falls to me to tell them there was a time not so very long ago when you could get your ass kicked because of your haircut or your car run off the road because it had a KSU decal in the back window. A time when a grand jury in Portage County, Ohio, would investigate the shootings and indict almost 90 students, but no guardsmen or politicians. A time when the NYPD would step back during a peace march to allow club-wielding construction workers to smash hippie skulls. A time when a long-haired high school kid in Akron was prosecuted by a rightwing prosecutor for desecrating the flag because he wore a belt that resembles the stars ‘n’ stripes. . .a belt he purchased from a national retailer.

    This is why I gag whenever some smarmy columnist gazes wistfully into the past and longs for the storied good ol’ days.

    There weren’t any, pal.

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  3. nancy said on May 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Borden was also a freshman at KSU in 1970, and, when students were finally allowed back on campus after the hurry-up evacuations, found his record collection plundered. Only police and Guardsmen had access to the dorms, supposedly.

    Well, he was just a filthy hippie anyway. I heard a rumor he had hair back then.

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  4. Deggjr said on May 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I was glad to see Kent State shootings in the press recently. One thing that is forgotten/never known is at that time the National Guard would not leave the United States. It was a safe harbor from service in Viet Nam. There were waiting lists to join, which meant the well-connected (such as professional atheletes and children of politicians) had priority.

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  5. nancy said on May 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    And yet, pointing that out in 1988 marked you as a filthy hippie. In Indiana, anyway.

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  6. brian stouder said on May 10, 2010 at 11:15 am

    A question: when LBJ was president, and troops went into Detroit to quell the riots there (were they called ‘blind pig’ riots, after the reference to after-hours bars?), were those troops National Guard? More to the point, I recall reading that the order was that those troops were very specifically NOT allowed to have loaded weapons, yes? Precisely because LBJ didn’t want to have to deal with the inevitable ‘tragic accident’ wherein some mother’s child – or mom herself – gets shot and killed.

    Truly, if my recollection of that story is anywhere near correct, then the fact that it preceded Kent State makes what happened there all the more inexcuseable (or premeditated, depending upon how one looks at it)

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  7. Jenflex said on May 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    As a Miami Gamma Delta Iota from the early ’90s, I’m so glad to see that Greek culture get some…ahem… exposure. Not long ago, MU put a bullet in the Western College program, a self-directed BPh curriculum that was a needed alternative to the majority. Instant karma is a complete bear, innit?

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

    May 4th I had the ironic satisfaction of being a part of a noontime rally around the Ohio Statehouse for children’s mental health funding, during the break from a Commission on Dispute Resolution all day workshop on “Bullying Prevention” keynoted by noted wingnut bete-noir Kevin Jennings — and we all joined hands around that unique, ante-bellum Greek Revival structure, those of us on the north side of the circle with our backs, or other peccant parts (if you will) pointed at the Gov. James Rhodes Tower.

    There was much irony to enjoy from that moment, not the least was having the current governor’s spouse about ten people down from where I stood, joining the peaceful demonstration. Now if we could just get either the name of the high maroon hulk changed, or for the grim, brutalist structure to be torn down — on May 4th, ideally.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on May 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

    What needs to be remembered about Kent State and all the other campuses that erupted after Nixon sent troops into Cambodia and Laos is this: university presidents across the board in Ohio wanted to close their schools for a week to let the passions die down. The then-governor, James Rhodes, was seeking the U.S. Senate nomination against Robert Taft and wanted to be seen as a rough, tough, law ‘n’ order guy. So, typically, he invoked the communists and the brown shirts and said he would keep Ohio’s colleges open at the point of a bayonet, if necessary. Had Rhodes not held his election as a more important goal than avoiding violence and death, the shootings would not have occurred. Period. It is hardly justice that, of course, Rhodes lost the primary. The hick-talking creep would emerge, later, for more terms as governor. Not only did he not pay a price for the killings, he probably benefitted.

    One more thing: The guard units sent to KSU had been on duty for many weeks, if not months, guarding the highways and interstates during a particularly violent national Teamsters strike. I recall the eerie feelings of driving into downtown Cleveland on I-71, where uniformed NG’s with M-1 rifles stood guard in pairs on the overpasses, and the trucks were traveling in convoys with NG and Ohio Highway Patrol escorts. Those same poor, tired, homesick troops were diverted to Kent, so they arrived in a very bad mood and had reason to be angry and resentful toward the snotty college kids, who were standing between them and their own beds. Here again: Would the outcome have been different if another guard unit had gone to Kent instead of these guys?

    Suffice to say everything that happened at KSU was a clusterfuck of the highest magnitude. And the author of that clusterfuck was James Rhodes.

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    That’s what I call a crosspost that illuminates rather than confuses — gotta say “Amen” to everything brother Jeff says.

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  11. MichaelG said on May 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The first troops sent to Detroit to quell the riots were NG. They were unable to gain control of the situation so troopers from the 82d Abn were deployed. Things immediately quieted down. I happened to be out of the country at the time but I had a lot of friends who went to Detroit and to D.C. as well. They had a lot of stories to tell.

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  12. Jenine said on May 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I love how Hank Stuever describes his yen for NM. Now I want to go eat green chile with him.

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  13. beb said on May 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I was going to talk about how the scrappers took away all our bulk items – two microwaves, two air conditioners, an old sewing machine, a mimeograph and a mimeo stencil cutter – almost as fast as we could get them out of the house but today doesn’t seem like the day to talk about frivolity.

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  14. LAMary said on May 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Just for a moment I thought about the contrast between Lena Horne and the tagger/journalist. I’m on team Lena.

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  15. Jean S said on May 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    team Lena, for sure.

    The NPR report on Kent State was pretty good. Made me flinch…but it’s easy to flinch, remembering those days.

    Loved Hank’s piece, for a lot of reasons. One is that I, too, love Albuquerque’s oddities…

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  16. Deborah said on May 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I almost didn’t click on the Hank link because I’m at work and was running out of time, then I read Jenine’s comment about Hank and NM and of course I had to go back and read the link. I’m going back to NM on Saturday for a week of relaxation,reading, hiking, eating. I can’t wait, I love the place (an understatement for sure), although I’m not that fond of Albuquerque. I get what Hank means about loving the tacky and I feel that way about Taos, but Albuquerque never struck me that way. My part of the country is Abiquiu, 45 miles northwest of Santa Fe. If you ever get a chance to go there, don’t pass it up. It also has it’s tacky side but mostly it is just gorgeous. And the food…

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  17. MichaelG said on May 10, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Three words for Lena: Beauty, class, talent.

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  18. brian stouder said on May 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I enjoyed the New Mexico article very much, too; I liked his reference to the oddly alluring ‘vibe’ the place has, crossing beauty with horror and tacky with sublime. Nance once referred to the ‘painterly’ quality of that movie “No Country for Old Men” – which of course is wholly supplied by the locations where they filmed it. This is front-of-mind because just the other night on IFC I saw another Tommy Lee Jones movie set in the southwestern desert, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”. This movie immediately pulled me in, and it seems to have had all the painterly charms and interesting vibes that No Country had, but without the exceedingly heavy, gratuitously over-the-top immersion into nihilistic violence and gore. If you haven’t seen Three Burials and you get the chance, check it out

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  19. Rana said on May 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve always loved northern New Mexico. That love is one of the reasons why I’ve always felt a certain degree of annoyance with Bill McKibben’s assertion that one should find the place that moves one’s spirit and settle there.

    It’s easy enough when you’re an environmental writer whose soul place is Vermont. When you’re an academic who loves remote, waterless, impoverished northern New Mexico, it’s a bit more difficult. (Indeed, truly loving that place means not imposing my unnecessary presence there.)

    Regarding Kent State, one interesting thing I learned while teaching the US survey this semester is that, a week and a half later, state troopers stormed a dormitory at Jackson State U, killing two students and wounding 12 more. But you never hear about that one… probably because the tv crews weren’t there and it was a black college in Mississippi.

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  20. Kirk said on May 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    The Jackson State killings were often spoken of in tandem with the Kent State massacre in the early ’70s, but I remember a black leader accurately predicting that the Jackson State episode would largely be forgotten.

    Steve Miller did a song called Jackson-Kent Blues on the Number 5 album.

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  21. paddyo' said on May 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I also liked Hank’s nod, even if just in passing, to “Breaking Bad.” I have friends who live in one of those gritty South Valley neighborhoods that evoke some of the show’s character . . .
    And BTW, to those of you out there who watch the show, have the past three weeks been simply amazing? After an almost somnolent first half of the season (excepting, of course, that Felliniesque pilgrimage of the season opener), the most improbable drama on TV these days has been riveting. The evil twins, los gemelos malvados, got theirs, and Mr. Pollos Hermanos has ratcheted things up a notch, I’d say. Wild, Walter, wild . . .

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  22. Jeff Borden said on May 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    You’re right, Kirk. Absolutely correct. I believe the shooters at Jackson State were Mississippi State Troopers.

    It’s not that different today. A column by a state rep in the Sun-Times noted the massive differential between an admittedly brutal attack on two young white women by a gangbanger armed with a baseball bat in the hipster Bucktown neighborhood. One of the women, an exchange student from Ireland, has suffered horrible damage and may never fully recover. The story has generated tens of thousands of words of coverage. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old black youth was shot and killed while sitting on his porch in the Roseland neighborhood, which is a black residential area on the South Side. His death merited four sentences.

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  23. joodyb said on May 10, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    paddyo’, i bow down to the writers of Breaking Bad. Last week’s/night’s installment were breathtaking: i sensed major movement with the brilliant flashback that informed the story arc of the sharkskin cousins/brothers. i had to stand up from my comfy chair as the surviving one hurled himself out of the hospital bed when he saw walter. and hank with no gun! why didn’t he just drive? our big post-episode discussion: Is walter a sympathetic character? Can a protagonist be nonsympathetic?
    tv – albeit nonnetwork, virtual premium product – seems liberated to tell real stories again.

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  24. LAMary said on May 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Brian, No Country for Old Men is a Cormac McCarthy novel, and those tend to be pretty violent. This doesn’t stop me from loving them.
    New Mexico is an amazing state. From the Penitente churches in the north to Grand Chaco to White Sands, there is a lot about New Mexico that seems mystical. The most amazing moonrise I’ve ever seen was in Grand Chaco, full moon, autumn equinox 1989. The moon was so huge it looked like it was going to crash into the earth. After it rose we had a sudden rain and wind storm for about a half hour. Our tent survived the wind, so when the rain stopped we invited everyone camping around us over to our spot and had linguini carbonara and cheap red wine while little desert mice ran over our feet and ankles under the picnic table.

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  25. Deborah said on May 10, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    its tacky side not it’s tacky side. Now that I’m home from work and have time to re-read comments, my own included, I find once again I didn’t review before I hit send. I get a lot of e-mails from people who do this. I cringe when I read them. I know they must do the same when they read mine. Sometimes I read the same passage I’ve written over and over and I do not see that I have made a huge typo or misspelling or grammatical catastrophe. This is why I am a designer and not a writer.

    edit: I have noticed that graphic designers make horrible proof readers. I’m convinced that this is because we see our words, letters, paragraphs as forms and shapes and tend to gloss over the meanings and content. Sad but true.

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  26. Deborah said on May 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    LA Mary, I can take snakes and spiders but I can not abide mice. The thought of them running over my feet and ankles is creepy, creepy, even in New Mexico (where I am usually willing to take anything). When our house is built in Abiquiu I’m sure we’ll have to contend with lots of the nasty critters but now they make me shudder. I hope I get over it.

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  27. del said on May 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I had no idea that vandal caught in the video was Oneita Jackson. I’ve only read one of her blog posts. It ended with a trite Robert Fulgham-like all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten reference about respecting others:


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  28. basset said on May 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Meanwhile, down in the flood zone, we have an apartment and a storage locker, FEMA, our insurance adjuster, and the Red Cross have all been by… here’s some video from our street as the water was starting to fall:

    everyone has been so good to us, from our closest friends to total strangers; food, cleaning supplies, help, lodging, furniture, it goes a long way toward making a difficult situation more bearable.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 10, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Chimayo’s got the combo platter for Abiquiu quaint and Albuquerque quirky/kitschy. Also worth a drive out of your way if you’re in the Rio Grande Valley. That, and San Ildefonso Pueblo.

    If you’ve really got time, you should visit the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, but you can always stop in by way of

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  30. Rana said on May 11, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Glad to hear things are getting under control, Bassett – here’s hoping the water continues to go down quickly.

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  31. Denice B. said on May 11, 2010 at 12:35 am

    I’m a big Cormack McCarthy fan. And yes, Breaking Bad has been astonishing these last few weeks. Gus gets more evil every week. And That scene when he saw Walt and dragged himself to try to get him. Wow. Nobody thought he was headed for Walt! They just assumed it was all the cops staring at him. I missed something, because Walt Jr. seemed very angry with his Dad this week. Jessie seems to be going mental, and Walt is forced to work with him to prevent snitching. (As they say around here in the hood, Snitches gonna need Stitches) Oneita Jackson. Ugh. Her self-important bragging about being a ‘Real Detroiter’ is as fake as her holier than thou attitude. Should have been FIRED.

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  32. basset said on May 11, 2010 at 12:42 am

    the water’s been down for several days… task now is to tear out drywall, insulation, floors, ductwork, etc. and let the framing dry out, then rebuild. we’ll probably be out of the house all summer.

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  33. Dexter said on May 11, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Lena Horne, beautiful woman, never heard a bad word said about her, although I am sure plenty was written about her courageous efforts for civil rights. If someone asked me if I could define “angelic”, I would say, “Did you know who Lena Horne was?”

    I was home on army leave on May 4, 1970. Details of the My Lai Massacre has surfaced just weeks before, even though it happened in 1968. There had already been massive demonstrations in the big cities of the USA in years past, protesting LBJ’s escalation of the war against Vietnam.
    I remember having breakfast with my dad and hearing the reports on the radio, and my dad, hearing how the students were rioting and assaulting the soldiers, not being critical of the shootings of the students.
    I felt far-removed, even though I was in NE Indiana, maybe just 200 miles from Kent. I was just home for a week to get my car and return to California. In the army barracks, only a few of my friends paid much attention to Kent State. I was the one who tuned into what had happened. It still disgusts me, just like My Lai disgusts me, just like Abu Ghraib disgusts me. Time heals or at least softens grief and bad feelings, and Abu Ghraib has sunk deep into history, but My Lai and Kent State still burn holes in peoples’ hearts after all these years.
    I spent many hours reading and analyzing Rhodes and his Guard and what happened at KSU on May 4, 1970. I find no errors of fact in Jeff Borden’s account. I say it was murder by execution by the state of four innocent victims.





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  34. alex said on May 11, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I have noticed that graphic design­ers make hor­ri­ble proof read­ers. I’m con­vinced that this is because we see our words, let­ters, para­graphs as forms and shapes and tend to gloss over the mean­ings and con­tent. Sad but true.

    Amen, Deborah. When I worked in advertising, not only did designers gloss over meanings and content but some actually wanted to change or eliminate same because it detracted from the masterpieces they thought they were churning out. The best designers, just like the best writers, were able to conceptualize both visually and verbally.

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