“Diversity is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important. It’s also important that we don’t wind up with artists guided less by a creative vision and more by a to–do list. We are talking about a world in which if you want to make the next Schindlers List, the first thing you’ll need to do is give a racial breakdown of all your employees. Does anyone see the irony in that?”
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) September 19, 2020
— Jim Dabakis (@JimDabakis) September 19, 2020
Last night’s open-air screening of Kiss The Ground happened on an upper-level parking lot behind West Hollywood’s Andaz Hotel. It was Hollywood Elsewhere’s first invitational Hollywood screening in six and a half months, and quite the emotional thing. It felt a bit awkward at first, but we all got used to it and loosened up. Thanks to the Allison Jackson Company and 42West (AnnaLee Paolo, Susan Ciccone), who co-hosted. Technical issues abounded but it was all cool. The FM radio band playing the soundtrack kept switching back and forth between 97.7 and 98something. The parking lot power went out twice. The focus and light levels were fine but the aspect ratio was wrong (it should have been 1.85 but they showed a horizontally squeezed 1.37 image.). And then our car battery, drained by listening to the radio without the engine on, began to flash a power warning. I called AAA and 20 minutes later a guy gave us a jump. But it was all good. Awesome to be with people again in a social setting.
Kiss The Ground director Rebecca Tickell.
Beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is gone, and with her any chance of at least a semblance of moderate temperance on the court. I was praying so hard that she would hold on for another five months or so, or until Joe Biden‘s hoped-for inauguration on 1.20.21 along with a distinct possibility that the balance of Congressional power in the Senate might tip in favor of sensible liberal allegiance.
Ginsburg’s death means that another Trump stooge will almost certainly fill her seat. With Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, the bench was split between four liberals (herself, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan), four rabid conservatives (Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh), and the occasionally sensible if right-leaning, Citizen’s United-supporting Chief Justice John Roberts.
Now the Supreme Court will be six-to-three in favor of conservatives. The ballgame is more or less officially over for many years to come with three Trump friendlies on the bench.
Vox: “Justice Ginsburg died believing that Trump is an ‘aberration.’ Her death ensures that he won’t be.”
I recall reading about an alleged discussion between President Obama and Justice Ginsberg, apparently beginning in 2014 or thereabouts, in which Ginsburg might have retired before the end of Obama’s second term and thereby allowed him to nominate a moderate liberal replacement before his term ran out. Ginsberg’s response was essentially “no way, I’m good, forward march.”
Then came Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s refusal to allow confirmation hearings on Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
Judicially speaking the rights of the Democratic majority in this country and particularly women, anti-corporatists and people of color are now going to be under severe strain for the next 10 to 15 years, at least. The pooch is really screwed.
Last night I saw Josh and Rebecca Tickell‘s Kiss The Ground (Netflix, 9.22), which basically suggests…actually persuades that the only sensible way to save our poisoned planet is to turn to Mother Earth for nourishment, and more specifically to regenerate topsoil by returning as much compost and shit as possible back into the ground — cowshit, steer shit, pigshit, even human shit.
Soil is nothing without natural ingredients, and modern farming techniques (including the use chemical plant-growth additives) only seem to make things worse in the long run.
The technical term is “regenerative agriculture,” which also means increasing biodiversity (which means rotating crops, right?), keeping the soil dark and rich, figuring out ways to improve water supply, enhancing ecosystem services, etc.
The film is based on Josh’s same-titled 2017 book.
The only thing I didn’t feel wonderful about (although I didn’t exactly mind this) are the generic lefty celebrities who appear on-camera to advocate for regenerative farming, etc. I completely agree with the program, but something in me goes “watch it” when Woody Harrelson turns up as the narrator of anything, or when Patricia Arquette, Ian Sommerhalder and Gisele Bündchen are shown strolling around an organic farm and hanging with the employees and whatnot. I wish that that the Tickells had managed to persuade…I don’t know, Arnold Schwarzenegger or someone with a libertarian or green Republican background to make an appearance.
I’m just a West Hollywood guy who lives for column-writing, rumble-hogging, aggressively fast wifi and movies (Bluray + streaming) on my 65-inch HDR Sony 4K, but I understand and support what Kiss The Ground is saying. It makes sense, I mean. Everyone should see it and think about how they live and what they can do, etc.
To be perfectly honest if I were living and working on an organic farm I would draw the line at pooping in buckets and dumping the contents into a hole. I’m sorry but I’m a Nancy Boy at heart and I need my fresh-smelling, deodorized, ultra-antiseptic, Aqua Velva powder room atmosphere to keep body and soul together.
I have no objection if others wish to use the bucket-and-bury approach to building up soil nutrients, but don’t ask me to go there. Please.
…when he said Joe Biden‘s cognitive issues are worrisome enough to make Rogan want to vote for Donald Trump. Biden is an old guy with some of the usual characteristics**, but he was totally fine during last night’s town hall with Anderson Cooper. His answers were lucid and comprehensive, and he never had a stumbling moment. And he nailed it when he answered a question about health care and veteran benefits, and particularly when he mentioned Trump’s characterization of people who’ve served in the military. I’ve said this before, but I was wrong to call him “Droolin’ Joe” or “Doddering Joe” during the Democratic primaries. I apologize for doing so.
** Are you gonna tell me Trump doesn’t suffer from old-guy issues?
I’ve now watched last night’s all-star Fast Times at Ridgemont High virtual table read. I’m glad Dane Cook successfully produced a fund-raiser for the Sean Penn-fronted CORE and REFORM Alliance (on behalf of efforts to fight COVID-19), and that Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Ray Liotta, Morgan Freeman, John Legend, Henry Golding, Matthew McConaughey, Shia Lebouf, Jimmy Kimmel and others agreed to participate. The gang didn’t read the whole 1982 film (directed by Amy Heckerling, written by Cameron Crowe) but selected highlights. Four million-plus viewers, $135K raised as of this morning, etc.
It was reported yesterday that Twitter has gently disciplined the obviously unhinged Kanye West for some misbehavior on Wednesday night. The principal offense was West posting the phone number of a Forbes editor and urging followers to call him to protest music ownership issues regarding black artists. The penalty was a nickle-and-dime 12-hour Twitter ban, which isn’t even a wrist slap — more like a raised eyebrow.
Twitter didn’t explicitly convey problems with West posting a video of a Grammy award placed inside a toilet with an unseen party (presumably West) peeing on it, but I were Jack Dorsey I would have totally booted his scrambled-brain ass off Twitter for doing that, and I don’t mean for 12 hours.
West also posted a conspiracy theory about how the music industry had killed Prince and Michael Jackson. “We used to diss Michael Jackson the media made us call him crazy…then they killed him,” West tweeted the night before last. “Let’s get it big, bro…you and Michael passed so we can live,” he said in another tweet that featured a photo of Prince.
The man obviously needs help, but because he’s Kanye West he’ll just be indulged and high-fived and even applauded for the cray-cray. Sure.
It’s very disappointing to read that Van Morrison, 75, is some kind of anti-masker, or at least that he believes that Covid health advisories and restrictions in England constitute a form of Orwellian, anti-freedom oppression.
A statement on his website says Morrison will soon release three protest songs — “Born To Be Free”, “As I Walked Out”, “No More Lockdown” — “that question the measures the government has put in place”, and make it clear “how unhappy he is with the way the government has taken away personal freedoms.”
Morrison: “I’m not telling people what to do or think. The government is doing a great job of that already. It’s about freedom of choice. I believe people should have the right to think for themselves.”
Some people turn cranky and obstinate when they get older, and sometimes even unreasonable.
I learned a long, long time ago that genius-level artists and performers are not necessarily sensible or well-behaved people. The art that channels though a person is one thing, but their personal behavior or political philosophy is another. In some cases it’s not entirely their fault as people have been giving them a pass for decades, and after a while they get used to not being called on their bullshit. I wouldn’t say that I’ve come to expect famous, world-class creatives to act or think in disappointing ways as they’re 97% cool, but if something weird pops through I’m ready to shrug and let it go. These days you’re not allowed to say that “art gods get a special pass” but my tendency is to cut them a break unless they behave in a deliberately cruel or sadistic manner.
Twitter epitaph: “There are two kinds of people. Those who like Van Morrison and those who’ve met him.”
In other words, with certain artists it’s better to enjoy their work and let it go at that.