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‘Freedom for the Wolf’: The rise of Illiberal Democracy

BBfreedomwolf.jpg
 
Earlier this year, at the opening ceremony for the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament, makar or national bard Jackie Kay read from her poem “Threshold.” The poem is a rallying call for people to come together and protect the nation’s “incipient democracy”:

Find here what you are looking for:
Democracy, in its infancy: guard her
Like you would a small daughter -
And keep the door wide open, not just ajar…

Though I don’t regard Scotland as nation with an infant democracy—our history tells us otherwise—it is fair to say the poem’s sentiment is well-intentioned—if a tad cutesy. Democracy must be guarded responsibly if we are to enjoy its freedoms.

The issues of freedom and democracy are at the heart of a new feature-length documentary by writer and director Rupert Russell. His film Freedom for the Wolf is epic in scale—covering events on four continents—finely made, thoughtful and nuanced. It examines how different people across the world—from Tunisian rappers to Indian comedians, from America’s #BlackLivesMatter activists to Hong Kong’s students—are joining the struggle for “the world’s most radical idea—freedom—and how it is transforming the world.”

This sounds all very exciting—though I don’t think the struggle for freedom as something new—it has been a central thread of human history for millennia. Yet every generation comes afresh to politics (most recently the Occupy Movement and Bernie Sanders revolution) and sex (Fifty Shades of Grey)—and so it is with Freedom for the Wolf.

That said, Russell’s film does highlight how different movements, primarily youth movements, are fighting the threat of governments combining dictatorships with democracy to create what is termed “illiberal democracies.” In other words, countries replacing real democratic freedom with consumerist choice—the right to liberty exchanged for the right to shop—or, as Juvenal put it, “bread and circuses.”
 
003freedomwolf.jpg
Occupy demonstrator in Hong Kong.
 
Rupert Russell was born and raised in England. He is the son of the brilliant film director Ken Russell. Rupert graduated from Cambridge University before he went on to study for a PhD in sociology under Orlando Patterson at Harvard University.

Patterson is a preeminent historical and cultural sociologist—best known for his work Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), which won a National Book Award. Born in Jamaica, Patterson has long had an interest in the cultural meaning of freedom. His interest was inspired by his birth country’s association with slavery. Slavery has shaped our understanding of freedom. Patterson examined slavery from a long historical perspective pointing out that the derivation of the word slave comes from the ethnic group Slavs. Blond, blue-eyed Slavs were once the main ethnicity of slaves—further the “vast majority of slaves for over 2,000 years of Western history were white.” But it’s a different kind of slavery that threatens democracy today.

Patterson appears in Russell’s documentary and his work on freedom—what is it? what does it mean? how is it being eroded today?—underpin some of the film’s central themes—as Russell explained to me when I spoke with him over the phone:

Rupert Russell: Our original intention was to examine what freedom meant in different cultures around the world. I’d been thinking about freedom and the paradox of freedom for quite a while and I decided to do a bit of exploration into not only what freedom means in different cultures but how does it relate to power.

My advisor at Harvard during my PhD was Orlando Patterson who had already done quite extensive research on this. For example, he examined how ordinary Americans when you ask them to talk about “freedom” there were all kinds of things they said from being naked on a beach to driving their car. But invariably what they they didn’t talk about was voting.

Orlando’s hypothesis actually explains how people such as George Bush and other politicians of the Iraq war era were able to use the idea of freedom in the forefront of their rhetoric while at the same time eroding democratic institutions through things like the Patriot Act.

I was already aware there was a very sophisticated way to think about the relationship between freedom and power—the different definitions of freedom and how they can interplay with each other. How we may emphasise in a culture too much of a personal version of freedom and not connect that with a democratic or institutional version of freedom upon which our personal freedom depends.

More from Rupert Russell on ‘Freedom for the Wolf,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
George Carlin recorded vicious anti-cop bit just before 9/11, now hear the uncensored material


Carlin being arrested in 1972
 
One distinct post-9/11 memory I have was purchasing Is This It, the debut album by The Strokes, and noticing that it was missing a track. It turns out the song “New York City Cops” had been removed—the NYPD had essentially been canonized and absolutely no one wanted to be seen as critical of first responders. It turns out the same thing happened to the great George Carlin, who recorded some some anti-police material just a few weeks prior to 9/11, only to have it shelved in the wake of terrorist attacks and subsequent ennobling of the NYPD. Now via SiriusXM’s “Carlin’s Corner” you can hear the offending bit below.

George Carlin, let’s not forget, had very good—and personal—reasons to resent the police, having been famously arrested himself for obscenity in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine—an off-duty police officer who was in the audience dropped a dime on him for using profanity onstage. As the well-known story goes, Carlin’s wife Brenda got onstage during her husband’s set to let him know that the police were congregating and waiting to arrest him. Carlin’s performance ran 30 minutes longer and he brought the house down, all the while making to ditch the cocaine in his pocket right before the cops nabbed him. Carlin only spent a few hours in jail and was freed on $150 bail, but it was a narrowly missed disaster over some dirty jokes.

The bit about cops, titled “Rats & Squealers” will be on the upcoming album of previously unreleased material I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die available from MPI Media/Eardrum Records on CD, limited edition vinyl and digital platforms on September 16, 2016.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Dolled Up: Bizarre fashion photos of Marianne Faithfull as a toy doll
08.23.2016
08:53 am

Topics:
Art
Fashion
Music
Politics
Sex

Tags:
Marianne Faithfull


 
It was the unveiling of Pitchfork’s Top 200 songs of the 1970s yesterday that got me thinking about Marianne Faithfull. Pitchfork happened to position Faithfull’s “Broken English” in the final slot, #200, and when I dialed up Jamieson Cox‘s highly helpful Spotify playlist of the Pitchfork 1970s singles, it turned out that “Broken English” was the first song I listened to.

And what a song! I couldn’t get it out of my head all day, mentally positioning it alongside Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” and Nena’s “99 Luftballons” as the deathless post-punk Cold War anthems. The song drew me to investigate her 1979 album of the same name as well as her rich career before that.

At some point I stumbled on a picture of Faithfull in a French fashion magazine called Mademoiselle Age Tendre, and eventually I found these strange pictures of Faithfull literally “dolled up,” posing as a kind of real-life Barbie doll being taken out of its box. The date is hard to read on this magazine cover, but it appears to be January 1967:
 

 
So, yeah, it’s a cute idea for a shoot and all, certainly an innocent idea, and one might argue that we shouldn’t be too hard on the magazine personnel of that era, impose our perception of gender equality on them, who could not know better and all that. But you know what? Naaah. We don’t have to crucify the people behind that shoot to point out that some ideas date well and others do not, and objectifying women is a pervasive problem in our society that is always best avoided. The pictures may not have played as creepy then, but they play as creepy today.
 

 
By the way, above you can see a picture of Faithfull from 1979, the year she released Broken English. Note the absence of a box for her to come out of.
 

 

 

 
More of these odd pics after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
THE fucked-up punk image of Donald Trump for 2016
08.18.2016
12:40 pm

Topics:
Crime
Music
Politics

Tags:
Donald Trump
John F. Kennedy
Misfits


 
We’ve had a year of wall-to-wall Donald Trump coverage, and we’re all experiencing a big dose of Trump fatigue. Now that the Donald has formally allied with the crackpot motherfuckers at Breitbart—shudder—I think we may possibly have passed the final moment when someone could say with any seriousness the words “President Trump.” He’s a solid 7+ points behind in the polls and the big viral sensation yesterday was footage of Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen bristling at the suggestion of CNN personality Brianna Keilar that Trump is “down” to Hillary Clinton by a few points. Quoth Cohen: “Says who!?”

Recently Trump himself floated the trial balloon of “2nd Amendment people” acting to resolve the all-too-likely problem of a Hillary Clinton presidency… so while we’re on the subject of assassinations and presidents and stuff, someone made what very well might be THE fucked-up punk image of Trump for 2016…

As you probably know, back in the day Glenn Danzig had a fondness for pulpy horror iconography from the 1950s and a talent for penning a fast-paced ditty, and his band the Misfits have been a favorite of rock and roll fans ever since. (By the way, the Misfits with Glenn Danzig on vocals are playing Denver and Chicago next month.)

One of the Misfits’ best songs is “Bullet” which is a fast-paced ditty about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in which Danzig barks, “Texas is an outrage when your husband is dead! Texas is an outrage when they pick up his head! Texas is the reason that the president’s dead, you gotta suck, suck, Jackie suck!!”

The single had a predictably fantastic cover art, which is shown above. Now someone had the bright idea of repurposing it for the election with everyone’s favorite never-will-be-president-oh-help-me-lord, Donald Trump.
 

 
The image appeared on the Facebook group “Punk Rock from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and Beyond” about two weeks ago.

Now this is not to say that we advocate or condone or recommend any manner of “Second Amendment” remedy to a “President Trump” no matter how unlikely that shit-drenched possibility might be. Just the opposite! In fact, we here at Dangerous Minds wish for the GOP’s idiot clown prince to have a long, long life. Trump’s done more to fuck up the Republican Party than anyone since… well, I was going to say Barry Goldwater, but even that comparison makes no sense anymore. (Goldwater had the “conscience of a conservative” whereas Trump is more like Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi come spectacularly—and ignorantly—to life like a lumbering Godzilla character.) No, we wish only good health on Mr. Trump. May he be around to torment the feckless Republican establishment that allowed his coronation to occur for decades to come. Let’s hope Trump becomes immortal. Maybe we can keep him in a jar—forever—like the Face of Bo?

If you’re about my age, you now desperately want to hear “Bullet” from start to finish and LOUD. It’s waiting for you after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
FREAK POWER: Hunter S. Thompson’s wildly entertaining 1970 run for sheriff
08.17.2016
10:16 am

Topics:
Drugs
Politics
Television

Tags:
Hunter S. Thompson


 
In 1970 a British news show called This Week sent a crew to Colorado to document Hunter S. Thompson‘s unusual campaign to become sheriff of Aspen. It should come as no surprise that the documentary they ended up making is just dynamite, a marvelous, evocative document of the culture clash soon after the Woodstock/Altamont moment.

The program, titled “Show Down at Aspen,” states that in the prior contest for the same position in 1966, the longhairs came quite close to stealing away the election by sheer stealth but that this year, all sides were very much on the alert. Carrol D. Whitmire, the incumbent, was looking to garner enough support to stave off the rumblings of the upstart potheads and their chosen maverick candidate Dr. Gonzo.

Let’s start with the resonant, unmistakably British voiceover, which early on describes HST,  not uncharitably, as “a hippie, a freak, an acid-head who openly smokes grass.” The show sets up the electoral contest as a battle between the older, more established residents of the ski resort and the long-haired newcomers who show no respect for the town’s status as a tourist attraction for the well-heeled—and then has the wit to undercut that very framing by cannily showing a smattering of “established” voters leaning for Thompson and younger ones not quite able to swallow Thompson’s schtick.

The first half has some truly fantastic footage of some hippies skinny-dipping (NSFW) and then passing around a few joints on the shore. A young Aspen police officer ambles down the slope to meet them—“a ‘pig,’ as the hippies normally call the police”—and quite astonishingly is shown enjoying one of the blunts and cheerfully admitting on camera that he smokes marijuana. (That guy should’ve been the poster child for a new generation of police officers that never came to pass.)

A few minutes later, a trio of elderly male Republicans describe their feared vision of an Aspen with HST in control. Those two sections, the pot use by the stream and the nattering of the out-of-touch old guard, make this show an absolute must-see.
 

Image from the Gonzo Gallery in Aspen, CO
 
The documentary explains that the result of the vote will hinge on turnout. The “freaks” are motivated, to be sure, but if enough of the regular solid citizens make their way to the polls, then HST’s chances will commensurately plummet. In the event, it emerges that turnout was indeed quite high—Whitmire was able to beat Thompson by a tally of roughly 1,500 to 1,000. Based on the evidence we see, Whitmire wasn’t hassling the drug users very much, and (let’s face it) in political terms (at least) Thompson is two steps away from a total nut. In the final analysis, it was Whitmire’s essential amiability that probably secured his victory.

The British documentary—and more—after the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Trump Focus Group’: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog meets Trump voters and it’s f*cking hilarious


 
There’s really no point whatsoever in me describing this for you, you already know what it is from the title alone. Is mocking low IQ Trump supporters like shooting fish in a barrel? Sure it is, but that makes it no less funny.

Although fewer than 25k people have seen this so far, that’s not going to be the case for long. Despite the fact that it requires a 15 minute investment on your part, Mr. or Ms. Modern American ADD person, it’s worth every second.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog stages a focus group with Trump’s biggest supporters, presenting a series of increasingly outrageous and extremely fake campaign ads, to find out how far they’re willing to go in support of their candidate.

Stay with it. OMG... stay with it till the very end. It builds into a crescendo of idiocy that will have you… in tears one way or the other!

If you don’t “get it,” well, the joke’s on you, bub.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
SHOOT BAND ALERT! Poison Idea’s new video depicts the assassination of Donald Trump
08.09.2016
10:06 am

Topics:
Politics
Punk
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Donald Trump
Poison Idea


 
Though they were among hardcore’s early adopters, the intermittently long-lived Portland punks Poison Idea have remained a connoisseur’s buy, a genre band for people really really into that sort of thing. Their most triumphant flirtation with the great washed knowing that they even existed was when the inarguably uncute band was hilariously selected in June of 1992 to be highlighted in Sassy magazine’s “Cute Band Alert” feature.
 

CUTE BAND ALERT! The fellow in front went by the name “Pig Champion.” (RIP 2006)

But like many HXC lifers, Poison Idea have soldiered on through breakups, lineup changes, and the indifference of all but their most steadfast devotees. But they may soon find themselves the objects of greater attention, if not outright surveillance: their latest video, for “Calling All Ghosts,” brings hardcore back to its ‘80s I-Hate-Reagan glory by depicting the assassination of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. (It was released before the candidate was formally declared the party’s nominee, and so before he qualified for Secret Service protection.) The video’s narrative borrows ideas from The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, and Taxi Driver, showing a hapless rocker dude being brainwashed by a cabal of punks into serving as an assassin, and giving himself a Travis Bickle makeover before engaging in the fateful act.

While we wish the band well in avoiding any undue scrutiny, it’s probably not something to fret about—the ending is ambiguous enough to give the band wiggle room, and besides, by now I imagine there could well be members of Trump’s security detail who’re hoping someone gets a good shot in.

The video, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Donald Trump captioned with Jenna Maroney lines from ‘30 Rock’ is astonishingly perfect


 
Now that I’ve seen it, it feels like it was inevitable that SOMEONE was going to think of this—a Tumblr user has made a series of image macros captioning the histrionic, toxically vain, not very bright, emotionally abusive, easily threatened and shockingly insensitive GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump with dialogue from Jane Krakowski’s histrionic, toxically vain, not very bright, emotionally abusive, easily threatened and shockingly insensitive 30 Rock character Jenna Maroney.

Much like in the Trump/Calvin & Hobbes mashup “Donald and Hobbes” (about which we told you not long ago), the fictional character’s lines dovetail frighteningly well with the candidate’s numerous raging pathologies. But the “Donald and Hobbes” strips were cherry-picked for scenarios in which Calvin was being his most awfully self-centered. With these, the pickings were probably a good bit less slim. Really the only way this could be improved would be if some real Trump quotations were thrown in so a game could be made of guessing who actually said what.

Here’s some of the best of Donald Maroney.
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Radical Schick: Jean-Luc Godard’s 1971 TV commercial for men’s aftershave
08.02.2016
02:14 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Politics

Tags:
Jean-Pierre Gorin
Jean-Luc Godard


 
During the height of his rabidly Marxist/Maoist cinematic phase (1968-1972), French film director Jean-Luc Godard formed the Dziga Vertov Group film collective with Jean-Pierre Gorin. The collective was fiercely anti-capitalist and anti-auteur, yet this didn’t stop them from producing television commercials for large multinational corporations or working for an advertising firm like Agency Dupuy-Compton (which became part of Saatchi & Saatchi in 1986).

Amusingly, in this instance Godard and Gorin took money from arch-Republican conservative capitalist Patrick Frawley, who was kind of the Koch brother of his day.

If they give, you should grab, as I like to say!

Godard and Gorin—who would collaborate on their anti-consumerist masterpiece Tout Va Bien the following year—spent Frawley’s Yankee money on a Schick aftershave commercial with a couple arguing loudly over a news broadcast about Palestine as “He” shaves.

“She” is frequent Godard actress Juliet Berto. I’m not quite sure who “He” is.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Marxism: Highlights from Groucho’s FBI file
07.27.2016
12:06 pm

Topics:
Crime
Movies
Politics
Television

Tags:
FBI
Groucho Marx


 
The other day I was refreshing my memory on Groucho’s LSD escapade with Paul Krassner, when it occurred to me that it might be beneficial to see if the FBI ever had a file on Groucho.

Of course they did, and it’s available for anyone to look at, heavily redacted of course. The Xerox machines at the FBI a few decades ago were super shitty (a feature not a bug?) so a lot of the pages you can’t make out a damn thing, but other sections are perfectly legible.

If you know anything about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the contents here aren’t too surprising—they were mainly worried that Groucho might be a Commie (if not a Marxist) in the early to mid-1950s. There are countless (redacted) reports to the effect that Groucho had a lot of pro-Communist sympathies but was almost certainly not an actual party member. (I guess the G-men already knew that he’d refuse to join any club that would have him as a member?)  There are some interesting references to a quotation of Groucho’s that appeared in the Daily Worker in 1934 that went “The battle of the Communists for the lives of these boys is one that will be taught in Soviet America as the most inspiring and courageous battle ever fought.”

Keep in mind that in 1934 Hitler was running Germany but not yet regarded as an obvious scourge to be eliminated. Still his anti-Jewish sentiments were clear enough. As a well-informed Jewish American it would be weird if Groucho hadn’t gotten interested in Communism around then. Plus for similar reasons the mid-1930s was a high-water mark for leftist and/or pro-Soviet feeling, especially once the Spanish Civil War got going in 1936. A lot of people who weren’t all that political got into trouble later for things they did (and thought) before WWII.

There’s also some business about Groucho and Chico being found guilty in a copyright infringement case in 1937 and having to pay a $1,000 fine.

For some reason Groucho (né Julius) is invariably referred to as “GRAUCHO MARX.” Once we reach the 1960s he is referred to as “Groucho.” I don’t know what’s up with that. In the summary sections of the file there is some background about how musically talented Groucho and his brothers are—the musical talents of Harpo and Chico are well known, but the file also, intriguingly, says this: “GRAUCHO MARX is rated as one of the best guitar players in the country.”

Did any of you know that?? So Groucho Marx, was, in a sense (at least according to his FBI file) a peer of Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen? Well, maybe, maybe not.

There’s some business I don’t understand from 1957 about someone trying to “extort” Groucho. I can’t tell if it’s just a weird piece of fan mail that was referred to the FBI that they were obliged to look into or something more serious. On that page there is this chilling passage:
 

The death threat letter sent to GROUCHO MARX from ELVIS PRESLEY fanatics from Brooklyn stating that GROUCHO wouldn’t live through the holidays, might seem ridiculous if it weren’t such a serious offense to send such a threat through the mails.


 
Much more from the Groucho file, after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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