‘Futureland’ and a co-worker’s racism harsh my Obama high

January 21, 2009

futurelandFROM JASON’S GRITTED TEETH — My outlook swings day-to-day from gloriously optimism to blood-boiling pessimism.

Yesterday, watching Obama take control of the mess into which the executive branch had fallen, was a good day. In the evening, I told Andrew I believe we’ve done much more than we realize to eliminate racism in this country, or at least make it so socially odious that it might as well not exist.

Today, however, was a pessimistic day as my idealism was smashed. In the cubicle next door, I heard a co-worker raving about an encounter with a client he labeled “a damned Arab.”

“They’re all terrorists. Even the children… You can’t trust any of them. I don’t know why they have to call me, talking all Arab. We should blow them all up,” he said.

I am sheltered. I normally associate with people of extreme education, raised in a strict environment of social correctness. This co-worker’s words were alien and loathsome. There was nothing in them to which I could connect on any level.

They were not the starry-eyed hope I felt during Tuesday’s inauguration. This co-worker clearly does not agree with Obama’s words: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America — there’s the United States of America.”

The fever of the inauguration had given me a temporary peace. But my co-worker’s words jogged me into a blacker vision for our nation’s future, one that’s been reinforced in the last week while reading an excellent science fiction work by Walter Mosley, titled Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent World.

This dystopia is no Idiocracy; it’s a world of corrupt geniuses and the helpless victims pulled into their sphere of influence. Futureland is a place of designer brain-viruses, corporate city-states and megalomaniacal dictators, genetically-engineered slaves, and politically oppressed masses.

It’s a place where children are drafted into government cabals; where the race and gender divides have exploded; where the Supreme Court allows citizenry to be revoked from anyone the authorities deem socially dangerous; where property rights have been all but abolished; where pre-teens live in underground concentration camp castes while the rich cavorte in the streets above; and where science and religion have been merged into one InfoChurch to keep the desperate under thumb.

Some days Mosley’s futurescape seems laughable. Others — when a co-worker reveals such ill-masked, torturous hate — his grim vision seems as imminent as the vignets he ties together in this book. And then I wonder whether we’ve really progressed at all as a nation, or whether we’ve simply deluded ourselves into thinking our attitudes are evolving at all.

Music Tuesday: Miserlou

May 27, 2008

Dick Dale and the Del Tones — Misirlou

You probably know it as a 60s surfer theme, the iconic ad track for 1994’s Pulp Fiction, or a face-melting tune from Guitar Hero III. But way before it was adapted to the California vibe, Misirlou was a 1927 Greek dance song about an interracial love affair.

The song was adapted in the 1940s and in the 50s became a line-dancing phenomenon in Greek-American clubs. When a young Lebanese-Polish guitarist got hold of the tune with his Fender in 1962 and ran it through an amp with reverberation, Misirlou was reborn.

That guitarist, Dick Dale, was among the early electric pioneers, and the sound caught on when the Beach Boys picked up the song in 1963 on the Surfin’ USA LP.

After decades of experimentation with his equipment and the tune, Dale has moved Misirlou from folk to shredded licks. Go, old guy! Go!

I refuse to post it here, but the sound was even re-molded to R&B for the Black Eyed Peas song, Pump It, which I begrudgingly like.

YouTube Cinema: More Bugs Bunny cartoons

March 4, 2008

FROM JASON’S BLAG-O-METER — Well, you asked for it. Our post on The Best of Bugs and Yosemite Sam continues to get mad hits, and I figure we should give the people what they want.

Bugsy and Mugsy

When two bank-robbing gangsters use Bugs Bunny’s apartment as a hideout, Bugs decides to toy with them until the coppers arrive.Friz Freleng gets credit for creating Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, Porky Pig, Tweety, and Sylvester, but Rocky is one of the best. In this short, Bugs is used almost just a catalyst for Rocky’s Al Capone-ish quirks and diction (“Turn it on, the radio.”) I also love how the Looney Tunes world seems to persistently remain in the 1930s even as Freleng directed for Warner Bros. into the 1980s.

The way Bugs Bunny plays Bugsy and Mugsy against each other — whispering into the ears of each so they fight — has always reminded me of that early passage in The Hobbit where Bilbo does the same to the trolls to rescue the party of dwarves.

Rabbit Hood

“Arise, Sir Loin of Beef. Arise, Earl of Cloves. Arise, Duke of Brittingham. Arise, Baron of Munchausen. Arise, Essence of Myrrh, Milk of Magnesia, Quarter of Ten.”

Here’s further proof that Bugs Bunny is a dick. The Sheriff of Nottingham (who doesn’t hold a candle to Alan Rickman) is just trying to do his job and gets the tar knocked out of him for his dedication to the crown.

Transylvania 6-500

Count Bloodcount hasn’t a chance against his rabbit guest after Bugs learns a couple of magic words, and Bugs totally spawn-camps the vampire into submission.

Ali Baba Bunny

Bugs always uses his opponents’ greed against them. While Daffy is busy trying to steal Ali Baba’s treasure and fending off the guard, Hasan, Bugs tries to wash his hands of the situation calmly. It seems like Bugs became more and more apathetic to wealth and possessions as Chuck Jones aged.