Question: Are riots so often sparked by police action because a) a situation is simmering anyway, and the police, already in place to keep things in control, don’t have to go very far to reach the edge? or b) cops are easily provoked by “law and order” edicts to abuse power? or c) some combination of the two?
I’m going with C. Let me hasten to add that I’m opposed to riots of all sorts, and the trendy common usage of describing them as “uprisings” gets on my nerves, unless you’re talking about rigid authoritarian states. That said, the 1967 Detroit riots were an obvious pushback against an iron-fisted and institutionally racist police department. (But it’s still not an uprising.) The precipitating incident, as everyone knows, was a raid on an after-hours bar in a black neighborhood. The Stonewall riots were started by a police raid on a gay bar. Many of us remember the police riot of 1968 Chicago, during the Democratic convention. The London riots, continuing as we speak, began after police shot a young man resisting arrest.
The problem is, whatever the precipitating incident, it’s swiftly overrun by looting and the appearance of a sort of rioting professional, young men with high testosterone levels and no place to express it; a mob scene becomes a big mosh pit, only more dangerous and with tear gas, billyclubs and fire.
London calling: From the Big Picture blog, a lot of pictures from ground level. Note the evacuation of the pet store — hamsters and guinea pigs and rats being taken to a safe place. When the one great scorer comes to write against our species, I hope he devotes a chapter to our stewardship, for good or ill, of others. (Species, that is.)
The hour, it grows late. Let’s skip on to the bloggage:
From the LATimes, a great interview with one of my favorites, Buck Henry:
Then there’s the pop culture echo chamber in film and TV; everything is a reference to something else, as if it’s embarrassing to be authentic.
That’s the horror of it. The great films were generic to themselves. I see it as the Conan O’Brien effect. He’s like the senior in your college class who always knows how to make a joke about whatever it is you say or read, until it becomes an end in itself. College kids 50 or more years ago wanted to become Hemingway. Thirty years ago they wanted to come here and write a series that would make them incredibly rich. [Now] the highest possibility is to work for a late-night talk show and maybe even become [a host] themselves. All these Harvard guys who just want to make late-night jokes about the culture.
The stock cliché shot of trouble on Wall Street — brokers with hands on their faces.
Angelina Jolie is, we all know, one of the most beautiful women in the world. Based on the evidence of this photo, would you still like to see her naked? I think this is what a certain type of beauty — the worldwide-superstar kind, when a living human being is seen by others almost entirely via pixels or other manipulated image — requires: Good bones, but basically, a blank canvas. I’m struck by the color of her skin, and yeah, yeah, skin cancer premature aging blah blah blah, but I’ve never seen a pallor quite that pallid on a person who wasn’t clinically dead. Her arms and legs look like pipe cleaners, but the dress fits her the way it would a model, which is to say, she’s a walking hanger. And of course she still has that great jawline and mouth.
Everything the male gaze would want in a woman can be added by the makeup, wardrobe or special-effects departments, or in post-production. What was it Norma Desmond said? We didn’t need words, we had faces! That’s good, because that’s what she has.
Contrast with Christina Ricci, an actor who’s been far plumper in the past. She’s very thin in this picture, but it’s that last five or 10 pounds that keeps her on the right side of wowza.
Where are the editors, chapter a billion: The Detroit News asked L. Brooks Patterson, the Oakland county executive who was never snowed by Kwame Kilpatrick’s bullshit, to review the latter’s new memoir, published this week. He writes:
There’s not a page that doesn’t reference Kilpatrick’s personal relationship with his “spirit,” or his “creator,” or his “petition to God” — all the way to the last page where he “surrenders to God’s will.” I thought I had picked up by mistake Pope Benedict’s autobiography.
A funny line, but “by mistake” belongs at the end of the sentence. Word order is very important in comedy: Take my wife. Please. I guess “I thought I’d mistakenly picked up Pope Benedict’s autobiography” might have worked, but “by mistake” is a phrase that goes on the end of sentences, like a little apology caboose. “I picked up your coffee by mistake,” not “I picked up by mistake your coffee.” Am I the only one who hears this stuff? Hello, is this thing on?
Ai-yi-yi, what a week. Better get it moving.