Pima County, AZ Republican Chairman Pro Tem, Mike Shaw, is the asshole who made the tacky decision to raffle off a Glock handgun for a local GOP fundraiser. Of course, Jared Loughner used a Glock during the tragic shooting spree there in January that killed six people and injured 13 others, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Was there NOTHING ELSE they could have raffled off in Gifford’s own district? A TV? A microwave oven? A box set of Newt and Callista Gingrich DVDs? NOTHING???
Even with this unusually harsh level of invective for television(!), Olbermann’s pretty much right on the money, here. I especially like the part about how the morally repugnant Pima County GOP should secede from the rest of us. They really should! Via Raw Story:
Shaw had defended the raffle Thursday by insisting Jared Loughner was responsible for shooting Giffords and killing six others, not the Glock.
“I could tell Mr. Shaw and the Pima County Republicans that they have ceased to be humans, that the rest of us think it would be a really good idea if they seceded from the country,” Olbermann explained.
Instead, he read a comment from James Kelley.
“It doesn’t mean the Republican party doesn’t have an incredible record of supporting the Second Amendment, but at this point it’s ill-advised and I won’t stand with them on this,” Kelley told the Arizona Daily Star Thursday.
“Mr. Kelley, critical of this crass, heartless, neanderthal gesture from the Pima County Republican Party is the Arizona Legislative District 29 Republican chairman,” Olbermann explained. “Bravo to him and not to this human-shaped pile of feces, Mike Shaw, and his Pima County Republican Party.”
The Units were one of the first “rock” bands in America to ditch guitars completely and focus their set-up on drums, vocals and synthesisers. Leaders of San Francisco’s post-punk synth-led music scene (a lot of which is now resurfacing with the current interest in “Minimal Wave”) the comparisons with Devo are clear, but still don’t detract from The Units’ cracking tunes and tangible influence on the new wave generation. Tracks like “High Pressure Days” and “I-Night” are still sought after by record collectors and forward thinking DJs alike, mainly because they still rock.
During live shows, The Units would perform to a video accompaniment of re-edited instructional shorts and found footage called the “Units Training Films”. Some of these films have been recreated and uploaded to Vimeo by founder member Scott Ryser. While still being very much of their time, they are excellent and definitely rank alongside similar efforts by the likes of Church of The Subgenius. Ryser has this to say about them:
The “Unit Training Film #1”, produced by Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber in 1980, was compiled from films that the band projected during their live performances. The films were satirical, instructional films critical of conformity and consumerism, compiled from found footage, home movies, and obsolete instructional shorts. In 1979 and 1980, Rick Prelinger was a frequent contributor and occasional projectionist at the bands live performances in San Francisco. The film was also shown sans band in movie theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area including the Roxie Cinema, Cinematheque, Intersection Theater and the Mill Valley Film Festival .
There was never a set length or definitive “finished version” of the original Unit Training Film. Just the current version. The film varied in length from about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on how long the Units set was on any particular night. Clips were constantly being added and others were deleted and discarded once their condition became too poor to project any longer. The film was constantly breaking, and the projectionists always kept a roll of Scotch Tape nearby for timely repairs.
This 5 minute version, compiled by Scott Ryser, includes some clips of the band playing along with a brief interview by a very young Fred Willard during the period 1980 - 1982.
Who’d have thought Fred Willard was a fan?!
Here is “Unit Training Film 1: Warm Moving Bodies”
After the jump, “Units Training FIlm 2: Cannibals” plus some more classics by The Units…
Redditor Oppositeofprogress says, “My friend took a series of 1950s/60s-era coffee commercials and edited them down to just the moments when the guys were the biggest jerks to their wives about coffee.”
In this compelling segment from a 1974 episode of the Mike Douglas show, a fiery Muhammad Ali spars with Sly Stone (stoned) and Congressman Wayne Hays. Theodore Bikel pretty much stays out of the line of fire.
In 1974, Ali was still adhering to the Nation Of Islam play book but a year later converted to Sunni Islam and would eventually become a Sufi.
Hays was drummed out of office two years after this show was filmed in a notorious scandal involving his secretary Elizabeth Ray.
Sly seems to be in a semi-stupor but does manage to get a few cogent licks in.
Ali is unyielding, intense and brilliant, though his comment about Jews plays into the kind of racial stereotyping and discrimination he’s railing against. But it jibes with the Nation Of Islam’s outlook.
A couple of months ago Damon Albarn premiered his new work Dr Dee: An English Opera as part of the Manchester International Festival. As the name would suggest, Dr Dee concerns the life of the Elizabethan mathematician, cartographer and magician John Dee, with original music composed by Albarn (singing and conducting a chamber group live on stage throughout the show). Well, maybe it was because I was so blown away by Bjork’s magical Biophilia show a few days earlier at the festival, but I found the opera to be a massive let down. You can read more of my thoughts on Dr Dee An English Operahere.
One of the main complaints levelled at Albarn’s production was that its oblique nature did nothing to explain the fascinating story of John Dee to an audience unfamiliar with the man. I was lucky enough to have some knowledge in advance and was able to spot some of the key moments in Dee’s life - but even then the narrative felt scrambled and made little use of some incredible source material (namely the man’s incredible life story). That’s despite this promising write up in the MIF’s program:
There was once an Englishman so influential that he defined how we measure years, so quintessential that he lives on in Shakespeare’s words; yet so shrouded in mystery that he’s fallen from the very pages of history itself.
That man was Dr Dee – astrologer, courtier, alchemist, and spy.
Queen Elizabeth’s Magician - John Dee is a 2002 television show produced by the UK’s Channel 4 for their Masters of Darkness series, and tells the man’s incredible story in a much more accessible way. While perhaps not revealing anything that the more avid Dee student wouldn’t already know, the show is informative and entertaining (if slightly cheesy) and serves as a good introduction to the man and his legacy. It’s also a good watch for fans of Alan Moore, who appears throughout the show and talks of Dee’s magical practices and their influence - and the three-note “spooky” sax motif is more memorable than anything in Albarn’s opera:
Probably the best documentary ever made about The Clash - Don Letts’ Westway To The World.
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Nicholas ‘Topper’ Headon give their personal account of The Clash. The interviews are simply shot by Letts, who has mixed the interviews with live footage and rare film, which plays out against the individual memories of triumphs and frustrations. Listen to the emotion in Strummer’s voice when he talks about the band’s demise, or Headon’s humble (and moving) apology for his drug abuse. This is a classic piece of documentary film-making - catch it while you can.
In 1959, a Polish journalist, Zdzislaw Ornatowski paid a visit to the Russian film studio Mosfilms. He wanted to meet the next generation of film-makers and hear their plans for the forthcoming decade. Amongst those Ornatowski met was a young and ambitious man, who discussed his forthcoming graduate film The Steamtoller and the Violin. Ornatowski was so impressed by this youngster that he made him the focus of his article, “Films of the Young”. In it he interviewed the young film-maker about his intentions for making his diploma film, The Steamroller and the Violin:
“It will be a short-feature film. My original idea was not to use this screenplay for a full-length feature - that would ruin the entire composition. The story in the film is very simple. The action takes place within one day, the dramaturgy is without sharp conflicts, it is non-traditional. Its main characters are a young worker driving a steamroller at a road construction and a young sensitive boy who is learning to play the violin. They become friends. Those two people, so different in every respect, complement and need one another.
“Although it’s dangerous to admit - because one doesn’t know whether the film will be successful - the intent is to make a poetic film. We are basing practically everything on mood, on atmosphere. In my film there has to be the dramaturgy of image, not of literature. I offered the role of the worker to Vladimir Zamyansky, an actor from the youngest and perhaps most interesting theater “Sovremennik.” The little Sasha is played by a seven-year old music school student, Igor Fomchenko. I am very happy with them.”
The young film-maker was Andrei Tarkovsky, and The Steamroller and the Violin was his first film.
Ingmar Bergman once said of Tarkovsky:
“Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”
The Steamroller and the Violin is the first annunciation of Tarkovsky’s “new language”, from its poetic use of mood and atmosphere, to its dreamlike imagery and ending. Co-written with Andrei Konchalovsky, the pair spent 6 months on the script before committing a frame of film. It is a beautiful and memorable film, which tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Sasha, a little boy, and Sergey, the operator of a steamroller.
final part of ‘The Steamroller and the Violin, after the jump…