First of all, if you live in Canada and are wondering how this long, draggy message ended up in your inbox, you probably met me two weeks back or so in Vancouver. This is my rant, and I'm trying it out on you. Like it? You too could receive my lovely biweekly (or so) SCREED; just reply. Or (and this goes for all youse) check out the RSS feed at http://www.californialibre.com/
Before I slide into the theme stated thusly above: WHITHER CANADA, can I rant for a moment about our unique civic holiday, the Academy Awards? I choked this year (14 out of 24) and so blew my shot at the big-screen the Academy was giving away. (The winner hit 23 of 24.) I blame myself, naturally, for not reading the craven politics of the Industry more closely. I mean, Goddamn HILARY SWANK again! Sure, the woman did a nice job in "Boys Don't Cry" and deserved her award, but what's this bullshit about riding roughshod to another Oscar just five years later, over the broken ambitions of WarrenBeatty's old lady and our long-suffering Kate Winslet??? I mean, COME ON, poor Kate deserved astatuette from the get-go, first for swinging a brick in "Heavenly Creatures", and then for propping uptop-heavy melodramas like "Titanic" and hippie fantasies like "Hideous Kinky". Sorry, but I'll say it again: THE FIX IS IN.
And excuse me, but as a lapsed Catholic who feels worse and worse about the shitty rep Jesus is getting because of what my country does in his name, could these evil Hollywood bastards not spare ONE fucking Oscar to that proto-fascist holy roller Mel Gibson for "The Passion of the Christ"? I mean, Goddamn (and really Goddamn) these heathens, who laugh carefully at poor Mel while trying not to blow any coke off the mirror in the john at Le Dome. They're all probably going to hell. I mean, come on...all that fake blood, and scourging...and Monica Bellucci, whom I last saw getting violently raped in some awful French movie. Couldn't they give HER an Oscar? Nope, a movie about a female boxer, 'cause she had on such a nice backless dress...THE FIX IS IN! Get real, did NONE of these idiots remember "Girlfight" a few years ago, which won the Jury prize at Sundance? That was the real thing.
Of course, I'm not one to talk, since other than "The Motorcycle Diaries" and "Sideways" (which barely kept me awake) I didn't see ANY of this Oscar-nominated crap. Nope, the best movie I saw in 2004 was undoubtedly "Indagine su un Cittadino al di Sopra di Ogni Sospetto" ("Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion"), a 34-year-old masterwork by Elio Petri ("The Tenth Victim") about a fascist homicide investigator who kills his mistress and then gradually leaves clues for his co-workers to see if any of them will bother to question him (which they never do.) THAT was a Goddamn movie.
Saturday night before the Oscars I drove out to Santa Monica to see "Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen" ("The Diary of a Lost Girl"), the last movie Louise Brooks made with G.W. Pabst in 1929, after the infamous "Pandora's Box". Like some of you, I'd seen that earlier film (and many of you have seen one scene from it, where Louise has a dance with Alice Roberts, up real close in my apartment.) You may also have seen the most famous scene from "The Diary of a Lost Girl", where the headmistress of a girl's reform school beats a gong while her young charges do their exercises, all the while getting more and more wound up...not the first girls-locked-up-with-lesbian-overtones ever made, either. The movie as a whole was actually rather amazing, and clocked in at the epic length (for 1929) of 100 restored minutes. In a year I'll probably be saying it was the best thing I saw in 2005, although I hope not. But as someone who's seen too many dull, moralistic American silent films of the late 1920s, "The Diary of a Lost Girl" was fresh, a topsy-turvy redemption of a girl thrown on the mercy of "good" society and religion, saved finally by a jolly band of prostitutes and street hustlers. From the natural acting to that lovely European amorality, truly a treat...and with live piano adding the perfect touch. You all should have been there. It would have been lovely.
Next morning I discovered that "Mission: Impossible" is now being shown in reruns on Channel 56. Is it just my imagination, or were all the foreign policy secrets of the late 1960s USA being revealed on this show? On the episode I stumbled into, our Secret Agent hit-team was RIGGING AN ELECTION in some crappy third-world Latin country (natch) that looked just like the Paramount back-lot! If they did that on "Alias" somebody at The Nation would have a shit-fit! "Oh my God, they're rigging an election...the CIA should fucking sue!" Or can you imagine such nonsense on "The West Wing"? All the pompous Liberal/Democrats would start squawking. "President Martin Sheen would never rig an election! He was arrested protesting at the NUCULAR TEST SITE!" Nobody's got a sense of humour any more. I mean, for real, they were rigging the voting machines with an ALLAN WRENCH! If we'd only known that, I could have popped out my toolbox last November, and right now President John Kerry would be leading us into fucking Iran!
One more complaint about "Mission: Impossible": Did no one in the Sixties care that Martin Landau, the "master of disguise", seemed to always look a WHOLE LOT like the people he was impersonating beforehand? Frankly, I think people were easy marks in those days..."Gilligan's Island"? "Green Acres"? "Petticoat Junction"? Anyway, I'm looking forward to spending more quality time with this cheesy gem.
SO, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with Canada. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I'm just having fun, as I was two weeks ago in the Great White North, or as it will shortly be known, the Great Muddy North. As some of you know, I went up to Vancouver to interview for a job in Whistler, the ski resort 120 km up the coast. On the drive up, when I saw my third limo with ski-racks, I suddenly thought, "Wait, I usually hate rich bastards. What the hell am I doing here?" Sure enough, I felt much more comfortable in the stove-heated palace of Miss Earl. An experience world traveller always appreciates the little differences...for example, did you know that most of the crackheads in Vancouver are WHITE? Interesting, eh?
Sure, I could beat Vancouver green with praise, but that would just raise the rents. Let's suffice with me saying that you are all welcome to come up and visit me, hopefully this summer. All the men I admire in this world are dying off, so we're all alone to make our own way, and my way looks to be up yonder. It's been so long since I was in a polite city where I didn't feel like I was about to be murdered (and that was in the Downtown Eastside, as opposed to "tony" Los Feliz.) Shit, I know it'll be hard to tear myself away from Los Angeles, from all the friendly assholes screaming at me from their SUVs, as my bike retards their progress by 1/2 second...from all the traffic jams, the pollution, the lack of a viable future, the incredibly high prices, the Oscars...all the things that make life worth paying for. But sorry, they're showing "Playtime" at the Pacific Cinematheque on 1 April, and if I have to go alone...shit, I've been doing that in LA for the last 18 years.
I guess the most honest thing I can say about Vancouver is, from my frying pan perspective, it doesn't look like a fire. And that's more than I could say about New York City or any of the other urban hells I pondered running away to.
OH NO, you're all freaking out, HE'S SERIOUS! Sure, why not? Maybe I'll come back when California is making its own way in the world:
We'll they've finally done it. California has seceeded from the union, and they're taking the blue states with them. Here's why:
What a crock! While Californians talk, Christians act. Like "Poltergeist"...THEY'RE HEEERE.
Here's a Canadian getting something done:
Canadian PM Turns Thumbs Down on U.S. Missile Shield
Canadian PM to Shoot Down Missile Plan
By Alexander Panetta
Those ungrateful Canuck bastards! Do they NOT REMEMBER what we did to them in 1812? We invaded their country, they repelled us, and then they burned down the Capitol! I'll bet George Bush slept through THAT lesson.
We have other ways of punishing our friends here in Amerika:
U.S. Denies Canada Defense Minister on No-Fly List
And hey, we've got a lot of friends up in Canada...like Monsanto. Nobody's perfect!
A bitter harvest
Europe's bureaucrats have caved in to American pressure over GM, but the decision can be overturned argue Sue Mayer and Robin Grove-White
The final act of a controversy over GM crops that sets America against Europe unfolds today in Geneva. The World Trade Organisation will hear the closing arguments in a case where the public authority of both the European commission and the WTO is at stake. In May 2003 the US, Argentina and Canada, urged on by their industry lobbies, complained to the WTO about Europe's moratorium on GM approvals, imposed in October 1998. As the biggest producers of GM crops, they felt the European position was damaging their trade interests and argued that it could not be scientifically justified.
Don't worry, my Canadian friends, I'm just lipping off. There's plenty of work to be done in every country. But some places are better than others...some places are run with a future in mind, instead of Armageddon:
Canada a Haven Again
By Andrew Metz
Like draft evaders and deserters of Vietnam era, American soldiers are heading north to find refuge from what they say is an unjust war in Iraq.
Any country with a respect for culture is all right by me:
Vandal-ravaged naked statue taken down, artist says removal may be permanent
And in reading up on my Canadian history, I see my favorite English trait, a hidden mean streak, the urge to blackguard...the life of the pirate. In the Twenties it was Canadian whiskey...now it's BC green. Or is that black gold? Canada and Venezuela feed our junky-like oil habit, but both are looking East for a more cash-rich customer:
One attempt to attack Iran or Venezuela could bring on a world nuclear war...
To view this article, click on the above link or copy and paste this link into your web browser:
See, I was looking at a map of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that everybody's going off about, and I thought, what's right over that long border in Canada? Plenty of oil, friends, and their agonies over the Beaufort Sea and the mouth of the Mackenzie River should remind us that Alaska isn't the only place that could get ruined:
Canadian oil exploration
By the way, if you've never actually SEEN the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it's quite a sight:
But anyway, back to the screed...what are those Chinese up to?
China's Oil Diplomacy in Latin America
By Juan Forero
The New York Times
Are the South Americans about to turn on us?
Lula and Chavez to Boost Alliance
By Iain Bruce
NOPE. SURPRISE, they're doing something called "planning for the future":
China Legislature Passes Renewable Energy Bill
By Hu Cong
Unlike this country:
White House Budget Slashes Clean Energy
By Ken Bossong
Renewable Energy Access
I mean, how stupid are we really? Are all the Christians so intent on bringing on the Apocalypse that they won't leave anything to chance, any possibility that their children and grandchildren might actually have to live on planet Earth?
No, they're like these addicts; they're addicted to a quick rapture and a long burn:
Police Say Men Butchered Goat for Crack
They're more heartless than this Scottish bastard:
Man accused of biting his guide dog at shopping mall in Scotland
They'd see thousands die rather than contradict their evil Christian edicts:
U.N. Meeting on Women's Equality Opens in Controversy over Abortion Issue
By Edith M. Lederer
United Nations - The 10-year review of a landmark U.N. effort to achieve equality for women began in controversy Monday, with the United States accusing advocacy groups of trying to define its commitment to "reproductive health services" as a guarantee of the right to abortion.
Maybe my friends in Canada and Europe and Down Under are thinking, "how bad could it be? Joel must be flipping out." No, read it and weep; they're the nuttiest thing going since the Dark Ages:
Rapture Awaits in the Florida Panhandle
By Tom Harpur
The Toronto Star
Last month, as we usually do, we motored down U.S. Interstate 75, to the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shores of the Florida Panhandle. It's a time to catch up on serious reading, walk the pristine white quartz beaches, watch for pelicans and passing dolphins, and do some research on the ever-fascinating phenomenon of American religion.
This, my friends, is what America is all about:
Nude Man Covered in Nachos Gets Probation
I mean, Clinton couldn't even FUCKING INHALE, but once you accept Christ, you can get away with murder...you can get away with the murder of THOUSANDS.
Bush Gets Stoned by the World Media
By Jefferson Morley
The Washington Post
U.S. press less interested in drug remarks.
No, at its dark, murderous heart, the United States of America is about to lose its bearings, I fear:
Kraft halts production of contoversial roadkill-shaped candy
And to whoever sent me the photos of the redneck wedding (enclosed), I say: THIS IS THE END. This is the end, my friends. Jim Morrison is not living on an island, but I'll bet I am pretty soon.
Finally...a billboard on Hollywood Boulevard bought by a right-wing group to embarrass the celebrities going into the Kodak Theatre for the Oscars. Too bad these reactionary assholes forgot one essential truth: the Oscars are only in Hollywood one night a year, but punks with spray-cans are here all year round (thanks, Miles and Lucas):
Vive le screed!
03 March 2005