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Anarchism, Activism and El Movimiento: Dangerous Minds Goes Inside the Second Spanish Revolution
03:00 pm

Class War
Current Events


“Are you not ashamed to kick people out of their homes?”

Barcelona, it occurs to me, as our plane descends towards the unfortunately named El Prat, must have some strange and singular relationship to concrete. Due to the national tendency to live stacked up, from above the city undulates in a wild concrete wave—coming to a dead, teetering halt at the brink of the Mediterranean, which meets it with almost parodic calm. Yet, elegant Barcelona somehow manages to make the best out of concrete. Hell, even La Sagrada Familia is moulded from stuff that wouldn’t look out of place in a public housing high rise.

And, ironically enough, it is concrete Barcelona finds its feet encased in, as along with the rest of Spain it sinks to the bottom of the economic ocean…

Of all the houses built in Spain between 2001 and 2007 (and there were a lot: this was the property boom that engendered the economic collapse that has left the country with around 26% unemployment, and around 55% youth unemployment) over a quarter stand empty. But despite being dotted with veritable ghost towns, there were over 75,000 evictions in Spain last year, a figure that looks ready to rise in 2013.

Now, in Spain, if a bank kicks you out of your home, seizing your assets, their value is only deducted from your debt. And since the value of Spanish property, post-crash, is a slither of what it was when most evictees bought their properties, and since there were a lot of forty and fifty year mortgages going around, this means many are still expected to pay hundreds of thousands of Euros for an abruptly worthless cube of concrete that will henceforth stand empty, redundant as a sprung trap.

Odd that this should happen in Spain, with its historical antipathy (among a significant portion of its population, anyway) to the very notion of “private property”. “ALL PROPERTY IS THEFT!” declared the anarchist philosopher Proudhon. Well, Spain, you might say, was bound to balk at such daylight robbery. And balk it did, in the spontaneous 15M nationwide protests that marked the proper beginning of what everyone there refers to as the movimiento in the spring of 2011.

Exactly two years later, I am visiting Barcelona to see where the second Spanish revolution is at.

I have, however, a vicious summer cold, and am unsure if my skittish temperature and face full of snot is infecting my view of the city. I’ve heard a lot about how inconspicuous the economic crisis is to the naked eye, but for me, sweating a fever out beneath the first sustained sunshine to touch Catalonia all year, Barcelona seems everywhere composed of two distinct layers.

Along the surreally telegenic beach, for example, there is the expected abundance of tourists, bathers, bars. But there is also, there by the outdoor showers, two apparently underage girls in the early stages of a porn shoot, listlessly palming water at one another’s bikini tops while a photographer snaps and a crowd gawp on.

A random sight, perhaps, but it feels like a symbol.

Further up the promenade we see some anarchist graffiti: “Tourist! Save the planet. Kill Yourself.” Beneath this it reads “Guirifobia Power.” Guiri (sounds like “giddy”), explains Sara Marquez, our friend, hostess and guide to the movimiento, is the derogatory slang for tourist. “There is increasing hostility against visitors—that is, rich foreigners—among some,” she elaborates, for the benefit of this slightly affronted guiri. “As the crisis deepens the only economic sector that really works is tourism. Many feel that the city council is ruling the city thinking in terms only of tourists rather than citizens.”

We stop at a bar for some food—washing it down with cheap beer and tobacco that do my virus few favors. Sara tells us some typical examples of people she knows in the city: University Lecturers earning a couple of hundred Euros a month, and even some doctors and lawyers either unable to get work or earning relatively negligible amounts. Presently in vogue, she says, is the notion of a mileurista—somebody lucky enough earn over a thousand Euros a month. No wonder there is a steady seeping abroad of Barcelona’s young, an exodus massaged by the government, who don’t even bother pretending their homeland has a future for them.

We get up to pay. “Why are you with these foreigners,” the waiter hisses at Sara, “why are you speaking English?” (Earlier today, some respectable-looking old crone had spun on her heel to shout abuse up the street at Sara for the same reason.)

While she tells the geezer where to go, I stand there sniffing and squinting at the street. Rich-looking American girls saunter by in designer shades, swaying honeyed limbs, and platoons of British lads march between bars. But there is also, I note, a continuous quiet traffic of disheveled elderly Catalans and gypsies, all pushing warped trolleys piled with scrap metal. “There seems to be more of this all the time,” says Sara. There is something ominous about the trade, as if they are picking the bones of an economic corpse.

That evening I interview Marc Pradel, an activist and academic. Marc has that air of slightly weary integrity that proliferates whenever a political class manages to entirely monopolise corruption. We begin by discussing the development of the movimiento.

“Two years ago it was as if no one was protesting anything, and then there was this small thing,  ¡Democracia Real YA! [Real Democracy Now!], and then this demonstration, and suddenly, surprisingly, everybody came and it was huge. And the last two years, more or less, have highlighted the difficulty in organizing a coherent, conventional political response. There are many things happening at a local level and neighborhood level, a lot of new ideas and discussions, but the movement is in danger of losing momentum unless it can organize.”

I ask to what extent this generation of activists identify with the Spanish libertarian socialist tradition.

“Some parts of the movement are not that conscious of continuing this political tradition, while others are very aware of it, and are openly inspired by Cooperatism and decentralization. Sometimes the movement acknowledges this heritage in a very symbolic way—for instance they tend to organize in columns when they demonstrate, just as the anarchists did in the civil war. But there is also a general awareness they’re not going to solve anything in a classical fashion.”

Yet, on its second birthday, the crossroads the movimiento finds itself at would be readily recognizable to any Spanish anarchist of the 1930s…

Pau Faus, Barcelona PAH
“In Barcelona especially there is a real hostility towards political centralization, a fear of being co-opted, a fear of becoming part of the problem. This is very typical of the social movements here, and I think you can see the continuity from the old anarchism to now, a commitment to decentralization, which can become problematic. Many people say that this movement needs leadership. We do need some kind of organisation, because otherwise you cannot expect major changes. The only time anarchism has been effective is when there was a trade union or something behind it.”

For now, the onus remains entirely on the grass roots.

“There are, in Barcelona and everywhere in Spain, lots of things emerging. For instance we have the community banks: Coop57 is a credit cooperative that gives credit to social projects and gives people the chance to invest in social causes… Som Energia is a renewable energy cooperative… La Fageda is a more traditional cooperative but is very significant in Catalonia. Their workers are handicapped and the company adapts its production accordingly. There are lots of examples of businesses trying to overcome the logic of capitalism.”

He describes the network of community centers, cooperative allotments and squats across Barcelona, created to provide food, shelter, work and support for people. I ask about the state’s response to such initiatives.

“They expect this kind of thing. As long as they’re not attacking some basic things, like the financial system of whatever, they know it can help them, relieve their responsibilities. For instance, if there’s some empty land being cultivated which belongs to the banks, it has no value anyway and if somebody’s growing food it’s helping to solve some social problems. But when there’s a more political approach, or organised protesting, then you find opposition—and often very violent opposition. The level of violence is high. Just to scare citizens—normal citizens—from joining the movement. Because the movement was initially very apolitical, a citizen’s movement with nothing to do with the traditional party politics or allegiances, and they tried to scare people away. And they succeeded, in part.”

The most powerful part of the movimiento remains the PAH—the Platforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (Platform for those Affected by the Mortgage).     

“The numbers affected by evictions are huge, incredibly huge. The PAH movement actually started before the crisis, defending the rights of people who were unable to afford a mortgage—then in 2008 the speculative housing bubble burst, and it transformed itself into something that defended the rights of people facing eviction because of the crash, going to places where people were being evicted, blocking evictions. Many, many people started to participate in it, and it became quickly linked with the indignados movement and the local assemblies. But because the PAH were working for a very specific thing, they were very successful in terms of receiving support, because everybody saw that this was a very precise thing that could be aimed for, changing a specific law on housing—and keeping people from becoming homeless. Because of that we have the support of eighty percent of Spanish society.”

Banker Emilo Botin and his “juicy booty”

This specific change in the law, Marc explains, was to “approve the dation in payment”—in other words, your debt would be cancelled when you lost your dwelling. The PAH gathered 1.4 million signatures to petition for this change, which was rejected by the government in April.

“This was denied because it generates a problem for the banks, who receive a property without value and don’t have any other way to recover the money they have lent. This is not important for the Spanish banks themselves, but for the European banks—German ones mainly—who were behind their capacity to give credit.”

On Friday Sara and I visit the working class district Encants to see the PAH in action. This requires a strange early evening journey, through somnolent shopping centers and amnesiac underpasses, until Barcelona finally cuts the shit and we find ourselves in breezeblock central: vacant balconies jut out from the dull high apartment blocks, like the handles of empty filing cabinets.     

We approach what might be a club or a bar—a large crowd mills about on the pavement outside smoking and talking. It is the local PAH center, though, and we enter a large, swelteringly hot space, with raw concrete walls plastered in printouts, schedules and slogans. It is packed. Over three hundred people are sitting close together, fanning out around a small panel of middle-aged, robust, blonde women, who are passing a microphone to and fro and filling the space with echoing bursts of musical, exhortative Spanish.

Clearly this entire audience is facing eviction—eviction and a lifetime of debt. It’s no small burden. Just a few months ago a forty-seven-year-old woman walked into her local bank in Valencia and set herself on fire. (She survived, just about.)

Here, though, there is something in the atmosphere besides tension, something like relief. Eviction, penury—these are definitively lonely ordeals, and through the PAH people can find emotional, practical and political support and solidarity. 

My assumption, as I watch the panel move through the endless succession of questions—everyone here has at least one—is that it consists of pro bono professionals. Apparently not. “They are not qualified,” whispers Sara, “they are just normal, working class women, but they sound like property lawyers.”

These panelists, it transpires, know every twist in the labyrinth because they were lost in it themselves, and so by necessity became expert at frustrating and thwarting the banks. In the week the PAH holds separate surgeries for the victims of the separate banks, organize sit-ins to stop evictions, and protest at the banks. They have been awarded a European Citizen of the Year award from the European Parliament, and enjoy—it warrants repetition—over 80% support from the public.

Pau Faus, Barcelona PAH
The Spanish government, meanwhile, has compared the PAH to ETA, to terrorists, to Nazis, and wants to see them stripped of their award…

This hysterical reaction was in response to escrache, a PAH approach that brought protest to these politicians’ literal doorsteps. However, it ain’t hard to see why the PAH might make the Spanish establishment generally nervous. In reality, there is nothing “apolitical,” say, about their guiding asservation that “having a home is a basic right,” or about their effort to remove the unjust financial yoke so cynically fastened upon the necks of hundreds of thousands of Spaniards. On the contrary, such ideas and actions are potentially revolutionary.

A hesitant African woman stands up. Her bank, she explains, are offering her a so-called “social rent” (whereby you lose your home but can go on living there). This is a very rare concession, so rare that it inspires one of the panelists to stand on her toes and flamboyantly flap her “Si Se Puede!” t-shirt high enough to flash the audience a glimpse of her bra.

Laughter flows through the crowd and out onto the pavement. The noise level instantly rises, interfering with the discussion and sparking a collective shhhhhh. It carries a hint of the Spanish lisp, this shhhhhh, making it sound more like a hiss than a hush, and this crowd of debtors, activists and volunteers a very large, very angry snake.

I remember what Marc said yesterday about the movimiento needing leadership, and wonder what on earth could happen if it finds it.

Masses of thanks to Sara, Moritz, Marc & Rebecca


Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Who is Edward Snowden: Whistle-blower hero, enemy of the state or covert ops shapeshifter?
04:10 pm

Current Events


This is a guest post from Jon Rappoport
If you absolutely must have a hero, watch Superman movies.

If your need for a hero is so great, so cloying, so heavy, so juicy that it swamps your curiosity, don’t read this. 

If you can’t separate Edward Snowden’s minor revelations from the question of who he is, if you can’t entertain the notion that covert ops and intelligence-agency games are reeking with cover stories, false trails, and limited hangouts, you need more fun in your life.

NSA?  CIA?  These guys live for high-level bullshit.  They get down on their knees and worship it.  They fall into a suicidal funk if they aren’t lying on at least three or four levels at once.

Okay.  Let’s look at Snowden’s brief history as reported by The Guardian.  Are there any holes?

Is the Pope Catholic?

In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army.  He begins a training program to join the Special Forces.  At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this elite training program? 

Snowden breaks both legs in an exercise.  He’s discharged from the Army.  Is that automatic?  How about healing and then resuming service? 

If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

“Sorry, Ed, but with two broken legs we just don’t think you can hack into terrorist data anymore.  You were good, but not now.  Try Walmart.  They always have openings.”

Circa 2003, Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA?  It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

Snowden shifts jobs.  Boom.  He’s now in the CIA, in IT.  He has no high school diploma.  He’s a young computer genius.

In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva.  He’s only 23 years old.  The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there.  He’s put in charge of maintaining computer-network security.  Major job.  Obviously, he has access to a wide range of classified documents.  Sound a little odd?  He’s just a kid.  Maybe he has his GED.  Otherwise, he still doesn’t have a high school diploma.

Snowden says that during this period, in Geneva, one of the incidents that really sours him on the CIA is the “turning of a Swiss banker.”  One night, CIA guys get a banker drunk, encourage him to drive home, the banker gets busted, the CIA guys help him out, then with that bond formed, they eventually get the banker to reveal deep secrets to the Agency.

This sours Snowden?  He’s that naïve?  He doesn’t know by now that the CIA does this sort of thing all the time?  He’s shocked?  He “didn’t sign up for this?”  Come on.

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA.  Why?  Presumably because he’s disillusioned.  It should be noted here that Snowden claimed he could do very heavy damage to the entire US intelligence community in 2008, but decided to wait because he thought Obama, just coming into the presidency, might keep his “transparency” promise.

After two years with the CIA in Geneva, Snowden really had the capability to take down the whole US inter-agency intelligence network, or a major chunk of it? 

If you buy that without further inquiry, I have condos for sale on the dark side of the moon.

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA and goes to work in the private sector.  Dell, Booze Allen Hamilton.  In this latter job, Snowden is assigned to work at the NSA.

He’s an outsider, but, again, he claims to have so much access to so much sensitive NSA data that he can take down the whole US intelligence network in a single day.  The.  Whole.  US.  Intelligence.  Network. 

This is Ed Snowden’s sketchy legend.  It’s all red flags, alarm bells, sirens, flashing lights. 

Then we have the crowning piece: they solved the riddle: Ed Snowden was able to steal thousands of highly protected NSA documents because… he had a thumb drive.

It’s the weapon that breached the inner sanctum of the most sophisticated information agency in the world. 

It’s the weapon to which the NSA, with all its resources, remains utterly vulnerable.  Can’t defeat it. 

Not only did Snowden stroll into NSA with a thumb drive, he knew how to navigate all the security layers put in place to stop people from stealing classified documents.

“Let’s see.  We have a new guy coming to work for us here at NSA today?  Oh, whiz kid.  Ed Snowden.  Outside contractor.  Booz Allen.  He’s not really a full-time employee of the NSA.  Twenty-nine years old.  No high school diploma.  Has a GED.  He worked for the CIA and quit.  Hmm.  Why did he quit?  Oh, never mind, who cares?  No problem.

“Tell you what.  Let’s give this kid access to our most sensitive data.  Sure.  Why not?  Everything.  That stuff we keep behind 986 walls?  Where you have to pledge the life of your first-born against the possibility you’ll go rogue?  Let Snowden see it all.  Sure.  What the hell.  I’m feeling charitable.  He seems like a nice kid.”

NSA is the most awesome spying agency ever devised in this world.  If you cross the street in Podunk, Anywhere, USA, to buy an ice cream soda, on a Tuesday afternoon in July, they know.

They know whether you sit at the counter and drink that soda or take it and move to the only table in the store.  They know whether you lick the foam from the top of the glass with your tongue or pick the foam with your straw and then lick it.

They know if you keep the receipt for the soda or leave it on the counter.

They know whether you’re wearing shoes or sneakers.  They know the brand of your underwear.  They know your shaving cream, and precisely which container it came out of.

But this agency, with all its vast power and its dollars…

Can’t track one of its own, a man who came to work every day, a man who made up a story about needing treatment in Hong Kong for epilepsy and then skipped the country.

Just can’t find him.

More after the jump…

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
The NEXT American revolution: Concentrated wealth and power will either implode or fade way
02:33 pm

Class War


Some July 4th thoughts on revolution as a process rather than an event from Charles Hugh Smith. His newest book is Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It

The next American Revolution will not be an event, it will be a process. We naturally turn to the past for templates of the future, but history has a way of remaining remarkably unpredictable. Indeed, all the conventional long-range forecasts made in 1900, 1928, 1958, 1988 and 2000 missed virtually every key development—not just in the distant future, but just a few years out.

The point is that extrapolating the present into the future fails to capture sea changes and developments that completely disrupt the supposedly unchanging, permanent Status Quo. The idea that the next revolution will take a new form does not occur to conventional forecasters, who readily assume the next transition will follow past critical junctures: armed insurrection against the central authority (The first American Revolution, 1781), civil war (1861) or global war (1941).

I submit that the next American Revolution circa 2021-23 will not repeat or even echo these past transitions. What seems likely to me is the entire project of centralization that characterized the era 1941-2013 will slip into irrelevance as centralization increasingly yields diminishing returns.

Everything centralized, from the Federal Reserve to the Too Big To Fail Banks to Medicare to the National Security State depends on the Federal government being a Savior State that must ceaselessly expand its share of the national income and its raw power lest it implode. All Savior States have one, and only one trajectory—they must ceaselessly expand and concentrate wealth and power or they will fail.

They are like the shark, which dies once it stops moving forward: the Savior State must push forward on its trajectory of expansion or it expires.

Stasis is not possible, nor is contraction; the promises made to the citizenry cannot be withdrawn without political instability, but the promises cannot be kept without fatally disrupting the neofeudal financialized debtocracy.

You see the dilemma: The Savior State cannot stop expanding, but the financial system that generates its revenues can no longer support its vast machinery of debt and phantom collateral. This is why I suggest all the centralized concentrations of wealth and power will either implode or fade into irrelevance.

If all the phantom wealth and collateral vanishes in a market clearing event, the Federal Reserve will simply become irrelevant to the vast majority of people. A handful of nimble speculators may well benefit by picking over the carcass of financialization and centralized omnipotence (i.e. central banking), and perhaps the 1/10th of 1% will still have enough assets influenced by the Fed to care, but the forces of disruption will replace centralization with decentralization.

Here is another example: Medicare may not cease to exist, but it will become increasingly irrelevant to most people because it will not longer function. The remaining doctors willing to treat Medicare patients will be working 13-hour days for sketchy pay, and as each one burns out and leaves the system, the system contracts. Eventually it contracts to the point of irrelevance.

The revolution will be in work and social innovations enabled by technology. The conventional view is that technology will magically enable the permanence of the present; this will be proven incorrect, as what technology enables is not the waste, entitlement and centralization that characterize the present but social innovations, some of which are already visible.

If we sought to summarize the profound transformation ahead in one sentence, it would be this: Wages are no longer an adequate model for distributing the surplus generated by the economy.

The current Savior State model responds to this by increasing taxes on the dwindling minority with fulltime jobs and increasing entitlement payments to all those without government or private-sector jobs. This model will collapse, politically, socially and economically, as no society or economy can squander half or more of its productive labor force while increasing the burden on the dwindling cohort of productively employed. The inevitable result of this dynamic is a destabilizing tyranny of the majority.

Technology is not just disrupting old industries and companies, it is disrupting the entire Savior State/cartel-capitalism model. The disruption has barely begun, but it will pick up speed over the next decade.

I suspect the next American Revolution will begin in the 2015-16 timeframe. A series of interlocking crises will lead to reforms that preserve the Savior State/ cartel-capitalism for another few years, at a lower level of consumption, i.e. burn rate.

But the process of revolution will be far from complete; this initial response of the centralized neofeudal debtocracy will buy time for the Status Quo, and every conventional onlooker will be infused with optimism and hope that the system established in the Great Depression, World War II and its Cold War aftermath—the secular religion of consumerism (i.e. aggregate demand), permanent war footing and the National Security State, and universal dependence on the Savior State and its ceaseless expansion of concentrated wealth and power—will continue.

But this Springtime for the Savior State/cartel-capitalism partnership will be brief, and by 2018-19 all the systemic flaws and disruptive trends will reassert themselves with renewed vigor.

The entire current model of governance, social order and the economy will be revolutionized not by overthrow but by the process of irrelevance. What will become relevant will no longer be in the control of the Savior State or its partner, financialized cartel capitalism.

Those currently holding all the concentrated power and wealth cannot believe they will become irrelevant, but that’s the result of projecting the present as if it is permanent and immutable.

The new system will be better, more humane, more flexible, more transparent, with more opportunity, for it will be everything the current corrupt, sclerotic, parasitic and exploitative system is not.

Previously on Dangerous Minds from Charles Hugh Smith:
Concentrated wealth and power are intrinsically sociopathological by their very nature

Global Crisis: The Convergence of Marx, Orwell and Kafka

Will crushing student loan debt and worthless college degrees radicalize the Millennial generation?

Wage Slaves: Are You Loving Your Servitude Yet?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Beyond ‘Blood Feast’ and ‘2000 Maniacs’: The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
01:39 pm



Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
This is a wondrous age we live in. Films that have languished in obscurity, rotting away in assorted attics and storage units are starting to resurface, all after being tossed off as lost. It’s a weird film lover’s dream and adding to the growing list are not one but three titles, all connected to the Godfather of Gore and cardinal in the holy church of exploitation cinema himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. Thanks to the hardworking folks at Vinegar Syndrome, not only do we have access to the Ecstasies of Women, Linda & Abilene and Black Love, but we have access to them restored and looking more gorgeous then they have a right to on both DVD and glorious Blu Ray as The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis.

The high definition sleaze proceedings begin with The Ecstasies of Women, a 1969 light-as-a-feather but stiff-as-a-bourbon-on-the-rocks confection that just oozes late 60’s swank. A bachelor party for Harry (Walter Camp) is in full swing at a topless revue club, complete with a snarky but flirty waitress who greets the groom-to-be and his companions with, “How’s the doomsmen and his executioner?” Instant awesome.

Harry & his Doomsmen
Even better is some of the commentary towards the two pulchritudinous lovelies gyrating on stage. “They must have ball bearings for ball joints!” Turns out ole Harry makes his bread by selling lingerie, presumably door-to-door, to ladies across the land. In a gin stooped, horny daze, our hero starts daydreaming about all of the sweet memories that have unfolded in his bachelor pad/houseboat. The first dreamy flashback, complete with little charming and ethereal sound effects accompanying it, involves a semi-downtrodden but lovely brunette Annette (Jeanette Mills). Annette, a permanent tourist, ends up falling for Harry’s come-ons, which are on the Tillamook side of cheese.

After some heavy petting in Harry’s golden gas guzzler of the gods, they head back to the houseboat, where Annette models some of his bread and butter. Ignoring the uncleanliness of it all, the two hit it off biblically, complete with lots of leg and semi-chaste haunch shots, with a soundtrack of lounge music and dubbed over moaning.

It’s not long after that we get Harry’s next flashback, this time napping on the beach, only to be interrupted by a beach bunny, Sandy (Vincene Wallace), whose love of wheat germ & clean living is matched only by her abrasive nymphomania. Such a combo can be scary if we’re talking about the winsome physical charms of Taft but luckily for Harry, Sandy’s blonde, busty and willing. Cue in, you guessed it, more groovy music and dubbed in moaning.

Beach Bunny Assertion
Harry’s houseboat, which features such nice decorations as a big sign that proclaims “This is not the Mayflower but many broads have come across in it!” Nothing says class like referring to women as broads. Quick lesson, unless you’re the living reincarnation of James Cagney circa Public Enemy, just say no. His next dreamy flashback starts with him picking up a comely hitchhiker, Philomena (Sharon Matt). Jail bait on a stick, Phil all but tells him that she is fifteen but quickly backtracks when he starts to (understandably) freak out. Fellas, here’s another tip, if you pick up a young looking girl who is dressed in a schoolgirl uniform and you’re NOT in an Aerosmith video, just assume she’s jail bait and get out of dodge.

But Larry’s the kind of guy who likes to live it up Jimmy Page style and brings young Phil to his boat of wood-paneled lust. Before the film turns into a sheer 60’s negligee version of All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, Harry’s loins and heart are soon sorely tempted by one of the girls at the Revue and with a name like Summer Frenzy (Bonnie Clark), who could blame him?

Out of the three films, The Ecstasies of Women is the most fun with the best zingers, lots of great colors, gorgeous ladies and warped, horny logic that lies only in that special realm known as sexploitation. The trailer that accompanies is it equally fun, with Harry being described as a “professional lovemaker.” I hear the pay is bad, but the benefits are quite cherry.

After that, is 1969’s Linda & Abilene, one of the very few hybrids of the western genre with sexploitation. While the titular Linda (Roxanne Jones) romps with a macho cowboy during the opening credits, the film itself begins with a funeral. Young Abilene (Sharon Matt, again) and her brother Todd (Kip Marsh), are left orphaned as they bury their parents. Dealing with their grief, they both press on, as the young adults take care of their family’s land and humble home.

Linda & Todd meet
Their healing path soon takes a weird turn after Todd catches his sister skinny dipping, unraveling a whole slew of hormones and urges towards her. Fate would have it that Abilene is also having some similar feelings. Faster than you can say “Jesus, no,” the twain do meet and meet again, making one wonder if anyone sitting in the grindhouse audience was actually aroused or too busy being squicked out by the family love gone way the hell too far.

Todd starts to feel guilty, conveniently after canoodling with her around eleventy times, and runs off to town to get a breather at the local bar. (He should have ran to a local church to thank god that she wasn’t pregnant with their two headed love-spawn.) An hour later after her brief appearance in the opening credits, Linda shows up and is instantly smitten with handsome and confused Todd. When she inquires about Abilene, Todd lets it slip that she is all alone on the farm, all within ear shot of the superbly greasy Rawhide (Tom Thorn). Linda gets to know Todd better, giving Rawhide the chance to travel to the family farm. Pretending to be a hungry wanderer, he presses a very scared Abilene into cooking for him, which she does. Praising her cooking skills, he then proceeds to rape her.

Finally coming home, Todd finds out what happened and goes on a rampage. (Though never providing us the desired bon mot of “Nobody gets to have sex with my sister except me!”) While he is out searching for Rawhide, Linda makes her way to their home. Initially looking for Todd, she ends up comforting the traumatized Abilene. In a bizarro world move, Linda ends up seducing Abilene, which is a tactic I don’t think most would recommend when trying to help victims of rape. Todd finally finds Rawhide and the inevitable showdown begins.

Linda & Abilene is more of a fascinating curio than a film. As a movie, the pacing is way too slow with a whole lot of drag. For a film that should have been 70-75 minutes max, the running time is 92 minutes. History wise, it is more interesting. In addition to the genre hybrid, Linda & Abilene was filmed on location at the infamous Spahn Ranch. Even more so, Lewis recalled some of the seemingly harmless hippie kids hanging around, watching and giggling while some of the saucier scenes were filmed. It’s not often one can have a nice Manson family tie-in with their exploitation westerns.

Last but not least is Black Love. To give you an idea of the proceedings, here’s a sample of the opening voice over; “Black Love is not an erotic sex film. It’s rather a study of an important aspect of the black experience-the act of making love.” Never mind the fact that lovemaking is a pretty important experience for all races, there is one very important nugget of truth in that opening statement. Namely, that it is most definitely not an erotic sex film. It’s a sex film alright, sans any glue shots, but it is about as erotic as a mule kicking you in the head.

Couple in Black Love
Presented in the loose, faux-documentarian spirit of the old white coaters from the late 60’s/early 70’s, the first example of “black love” is how children first learn about it. The narrator mentions it is often through stories they hear, experimenting when they are older and watching adults…..what??? A bored teenager catches two adults in the backseat of a car in the middle of the day in some industrial looking parking lot. It just gets worse as a little girl walks in on her parents. (Thank god that it is obvious that the kids were not in the same room as the in flagrante delicto action.) Instead of vomiting, running and screaming, which is what 99% of kids of all races would do, she stays looking surprised and giggling. I instantly need therapy.

It goes on from there, examining the ideal black couple and people dancing at a predominantly African-American club. Black Love toes this strange line of trying to sound progressive, yet is interspersed with assorted commentary about the assorted physical differences that skirts up to the county of racist. It would actually be racist except a lot of the traits noted about “black love” (save for the aforementioned creepy watching bit) could be said about all races. At one point, the narrator notes the physical differences of each club goer. Turns out black people can be short, tall, thin, large, some darker skinned and others lighter skinned and some even wear varying fashions…just like every other race.

On one hand, Black Love is kind of horrible, but on the other hand, it’s horrible-ness is something so strong that it could unite all races closer together. It is amazing that this film was even found, since out of the three formerly-lost HG Lewis titles, this is the one that drummed up the most curiosity. Lewis’ own back and forth about even being associated with it has given it, inadvertently, added mystery. It is a relic of a time when both sexual and racial prejudices were being actively challenged. Kind of sad that thirty plus years later, we are still having these same prejudices. It makes anyone with a soul and an IQ over toast frustrated and angry.

The Vinegar Syndrome have done an absolutely luscious job releasing and restoring The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. The first two films especially look so gorgeous, with the use of color really popping. Then there’s the great cover art, well researched liner notes courtesy of Casey Scott and a trailer for each title. They might not be the best examples of Lewis’ work, but they are part of a fascinating director’s filmography. This release is another A+ mark in the often underlooked field of film preservation.

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
Revenge, Poetry & Gangsters: An interview with ‘2Graves’ star Jonathan Moore
12:51 am



Jonathan Moore didn’t find starring in his latest film 2Graves an enjoyable experience.

“There’s a lot of it where I’m hung from a chain,” Moore tells Dangerous Minds. “A hook, like a meat hook. This went on for like twelve hours on the first day because we were so short of time. I stayed in my harness even during lunch break. I wore one these flying harness things. It’s like the worst kind of corset you can imagine—it digs into your ribs, it chafes—so, I was in a lot of physical pain. But I was using it—I was using the pain.

“The bloke who did the flying said to me, ‘We don’t normally have people in one of these harnesses for more than 20-minutes.’

“He said, ‘Are you all right? You don’t have to do this.’ I just felt so much pressure to do it that I did it for a whole day. I thought, well at least that’s done. Then I came in the next day and the director said, ‘You’ve got to do it again.”

Jonathan Moore is an actor, writer and director. He may describe himself as “not a marquee name,” but over a 30-year career, he has proven himself, time-and-again, to be one of the most powerful, original, and talented creative artists of his generation.

In 2Graves Moore plays Jack Topps, a man set on revenging the murder of his father.

“It’s got this kind of Greek revenge quality to it. It’s an odyssey really, about this guy who is an ordinary kid, whose dad is killed by gangsters over some gambling debts. His dad was a professional darts player and he didn’t throw the match to keep the local crime family happy. So, they killed him. His son finds out about this and he decides he’s going to embark on this spree of quite bloody revenge. It destroys his soul.

“The title comes from Confucius, ‘The man who achieves revenge, let him first dig two graves—one for himself.’”
More from Jonathan Moore, plus trailer for ‘2Graves,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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