A gathering place for adventurous writers like Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, William Burroughs and Lawrence Durrell among many others, Shakespeare and Company was far more than just a business, it was a breeding ground and spiritual center for literary pioneers who were drawn to the shop by its enigmatic American owner George Whitman who opened the English-language bookstore in 1951,
Whitman passed away last Wednesday at the age of 98.
He welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,” was one, quoting Yeats. Next to a wishing well at the center of the store, a sign said: “Give what you can, take what you need. George.” By his own estimate, he lodged some 40,000 people.
Whitman was generous but he also had a quick temper. He was loved but his fiery disposition could be off-putting and his methods of running his business somewhat dictatorial. He was a firm believer that anyone seeking shelter in his bookstore should expect to pay their way by doing some work in the bookstore and he evidently could be a tough taskmaster, like a Zen teacher wielding a bamboo stick. This didn’t dissuade thousands of writers from making the pilgrimage to his literary Mecca. There was no bookstore quite like it.
Whitman and his extraordinary bookstore were a seminal force in the lives and careers of some of the 20th century’s greatest authors. In this documentary, Portrait Of A Bookstore As An Old Man, we are introduced to Whitman and a life touched by the marvelous.
Hero of anti-immigrant, racist Republicans everywhere, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio was charged by the Justice Department with a rather long and utterly appalling list of civil rights violations.
Arpaio’s comically egotistical thirst for self-promotion (he briefly starred in a reality TV series) and flagrant disregard for civil rights have been well-known for a long time—it’s why the likes of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry all wanted to fellate this crotchety old bastard for his endorsement—but now the media notoriety he’s sought after might prove to be Arpaio’s undoing. Associated Press writes:
The civil rights report said Latinos are four to nine times more likely to be stopped in traffic stops in Maricopa County than non-Latinos and that the agency’s immigration policies treat Latinos as if they are all in the country illegally. Deputies on the immigrant-smuggling squad stop and arrest Latino drivers without good cause, the investigation found.
A review done as part of the investigation found that 20 percent of traffic reports handled by Arpaio’s immigrant-smuggling squad from March 2006 to March 2009 were stops - almost all involving Latino drivers - that were done without reasonable suspicion. The squad’s stops rarely led to smuggling arrests.
Deputies are encouraged to make high-volume traffic stops in targeted locations. There were Latinos who were in the U.S. legally who were arrested or detained without cause during the sweeps, according to the report.
During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city - in some cases, heavily Latino areas - over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio’s office.
Police supervisors, including at least one smuggling-squad supervisor, often used county accounts to send emails that demeaned Latinos to fellow sheriff’s managers, deputies and volunteers in the sheriff’s posse. One such email had a photo of a mock driver’s license for a fictional state called “Mexifornia.”
The report said that the sheriff’s office launched an immigration operation two weeks after the sheriff received a letter in August 2009 letter about a person’s dismay over employees of a McDonald’s in the Phoenix suburb of Sun City who didn’t speak English. The tip laid out no criminal allegations. The sheriff wrote back to thank the writer “for the info,” said he would look into it and forwarded it to a top aide with a note of “for our operation.”
Federal investigators focused heavily on the language barriers in Arpaio’s jails. Latino inmates with limited English skills were punished for failing to understand commands in English by being put in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day or keeping prisoners locked down in their jail pods for as long as 72 hours without a trip to the canteen area or making nonlegal phone calls.
The report said some jail officers used racial slurs for Latinos when talking among themselves and speaking to inmates.
Detention officers refused to accept forms requesting basic daily services and reporting mistreatment when the documents were completed in Spanish and pressured Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms that implicate their legal rights without language assistance.
The agency pressures Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms by yelling at them and keeping them in uncomfortably cold cells for long periods of time.
These allegations are disturbing enough in themselves. But what’s even more troubling is that the person behind them has been not only held up as a hero by the Right, but has served as an inspiration for immigration legislation around the country. In a report last year, we examined the ways the anti-immigrant Right has worked to dehumanize immigrants in order “to inflame anti-immigrant sentiment and build political opposition to comprehensive immigration reform.” It should come as no surprise that Sheriff Joe is the movement’s figurehead.
Nope, none at all!
At the Justice Department press conference today, Arpaio was accused of violating the Constitution and Federal laws.
Thomas Perez, who heads the Justice Department’s civil rights division said the Arpaio investigation represents the most egregious case of racial profiling in the nation’s history, worse than anything he’s seen himself or reviewed in professional literature. Investigators interviewed more than 400 people, reviewed thousands of pages of documentation and toured Maricopa County jails as part of the probe.
This Dutch TV documentary from 1977 captures some brilliant performances by The Stranglers, Blondie and The Sex Pistols. The bands are firing on all cylinders as they perform in Amsterdam.
In 1977, this is what was moving my world. I had just arrived in New York City and I felt like a sail in a hurricane. Slept all day and hit the clubs at night to see a rock revolution in the making.
The Stranglers at the Second Avenue Theater were particularly awe-inspiring. Unsung heroes of rock and roll, which is probably as it should be - no more heroes. Though, I have my share.
The Stranglers - No More Heroes, Something Better Change
Blondie - Detroit 442, Love at the Pier
Sex Pistols - E.M.I., Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the UK
The video quality is pretty rough, which seems appropriate - like an underground transmission from the distant past. It’s also in Dutch without English substitles, but it hardly matters. The music speaks for itself.
A new work by Banksy was unveiled today at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Called Cardinal Sin, the work is a bust of a priest with its face sheared-off, and replaced with a square of blank kitchen tiles, creating a pixelated effect. The statue is a response to the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. In a statement, Banksy said:
“The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present. At this time of year it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity - the lies, the corruption, the abuse.
“I’m never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one.”
Cardinal Sin is a replica of an 18th century bust and is displayed on a pedestal in a room filled with religious artworks from the same century, and has been loaned to the gallery indefinitely.
As someone who knows the value of a good headline zinging across the globe via Twitter, I can appreciate why middle-aged, well-off Caucasian Forbes contributor Gene Marks would title his well-meaning essay/advice, “If I Were A Poor Black Kid.” As every blogger knows, with controversy comes increased traffic, some feigned outrage from bloggers both left and right (which brings in even more traffic) and parody. Even ridicule brings in more traffic (it’s a fuel that the Internet and reality TV runs on). I don’t want to give the impression that I found Marks’ essay offensive—I didn’t and he makes several good points—but then again, he completely misses out on the biggest elephant (of many) in the room:
Are there going to be ANY decent jobs—let alone careers—for much of the next generation in this hollowed out American economy, whether they are educated or not?
I was told this morning that 10% of the HDTV panels that are 40 inches or larger are manufactured by just fifteen workers at the Panasonic plant in Osaka, Japan. If that’s even close to accurate, it’s staggering. What opportunities will there be in the US where we hardly make anything of real value anymore?
However silly Gene Marks’ title is, at least it inspired one of the funniest things I’ve read in some time, Vanity Fair contributing editor Jim Windolf’s “If I Were a Middle-Aged White Guy,” published this morning at The Atlantic Wire. Here’s an excerpt:
If I happened to be making a quick stop at the 7-11, I would ease into the handicapped spot, because eighty percent of those people are faking it. This one guy I heard about had asthma. That’s how he got the handicapped plate. I would leave the engine running, partly so it wouldn’t get cold, and partly so that, if some actual, no-kidding-around handicapped person were to pull up in their specially made handicap-mobile, they would figure I was coming back shortly.
If I were a middle-aged white guy, I would work hard at my job. No one likes a lazy person. And I would smile at my coworkers, because no one likes a sourpuss. I would also be sure to ask my colleagues how their day was going, and I would talk about TV shows and football games with them, and I would perhaps mention that I hadn’t seen them in church lately, which is a funny thing to say nowadays, when there are so many people who haven’t accepted the Lord Jesus as our savior.
If I were to see a coworker slacking off, I might remark, in jest, “Some of us have work to do.” And if they told me to fuck off, I would call human resources and report them, because middle-aged white guys should not have to be subjected to such abusive talk. I would also discuss the incident with my immediate boss, and if he were to tell me, “You just need to worry about your own work and let me take care of the rest of the floor,” I would probably say, “It’s funny how you asshole liberals are always talking about ‘it takes a village,’ but the minute someone steps up to point out that one of the ‘villagers’ is slacking off, you get nothing but shit for it.” And if he were to reply, “Are we done here?”, I would probably just say something like, “Yeah, I guess we are. I guess nothing’s ever going to change around here,” and then I would walk back to my desk, muttering to myself. For a little office humor I would make sure a coworker or two heard me use the word “shotgun.”
If I were a middle-aged white guy, and my children were doing poorly in school, I would smash things in their rooms, the lamps and vacation souvenirs and such, and I would inform them that the stuff I had just broken to bits had been gained in exchange for a certain thing known as money, and you get money in this world because you have skills, like computer programming, and you acquire those skills only after you earn halfway decent grades in school, and then you offer those skills to an employer who will pay you for your services, even if they never take it seriously when you make the slightest remark about how you’re the main guy pulling his weight.
A 23-year-old South African woman was caught smuggling 3.3 lbs of cocaine into Thailand by hiding the drugs in her dreadlocks!
That much coke on your head would make for a very numb skull, wouldn’t it? That might explain why this numb-skull tried to import 3.3 lbs of coke into Thailand, a country known for enforcing harsh penalties on drug smugglers, including death.
Patton Oswalt reenacts, with the assistance of director Jason Reitman, an actual phone message left on Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse voice mail by an irate customer who was kicked out of the theater for not following the no cell phone rule.
Earlier this year the Alamo Drafthouse launched a “Don’t Talk” PSA that went viral, generating (to date) close to 5 million views. The video was funny and it also contributed to an ongoing dialogue about talking & texting during movies.
It gained a few fans, including Patton Oswalt & Jason Reitman who decided to shoot a parody video of the famous “Angry Texter” while at the theater for a screening of Young Adult.
The dramatization of the voice mail isn’t nearly as putrid as the real thing. You be the judge. The original “Angry Texter” message can be heard after the jump.