‘William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe’: Powerful documentary streaming free now

Today is the 39th anniversary of the start of the Attica prison riots. In this clip from the documentary William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, attorney Kunstler is called in to negotiate on behalf of the prisoners. The film was directed by Kunstler’s daughters, Emily and Sarah.

You can watch the entire film at the Point Of View website, click here. It will be streaming until midnight Pacific Time on September 21, 2010.

From the press release on William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe:

The man who had marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and who had defended the Chicago 8 anti-war protesters, Native American activists at Wounded Knee and prisoners caught up in the Attica prison rebellion was now seen kissing the cheek of a Mafia client and defending an Islamic fundamentalist charged with assassinating a rabbi, terrorists accused of bombing the World Trade Center and a teenager charged in a near-fatal gang rape. The sisters remember the shock of disenchantment they felt. Disturbing the Universe is Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler’s attempt to reconcile the heroic movement lawyer from the past with the father they knew.

“I’m not a lawyer for hire. I only defend those I love.” William Kunstler.



Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
The Gun is Loaded: Classic Lydia Lunch performance from 1988
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Lydia Lunch

During the decade of the 1980s, I saw Lydia Lunch perform maybe 15+ times and I caught some pretty seminal performances of hers, including the premiere of Fingered, the gleefully violent porn film she made with Richard Kern and South of Your Border, the two-person play she did with Emilio Cuberio that ended in a blood-covered, naked Lydia trussed up on a giant “X” onstage pissing all over him! To truly appreciate the aggressively confrontational nature of her performances, you had to be in or near the front row. Like Eric Bogosian or my late friend Brother Theodore, it was fucking scary and intimidating to be anywhere near the stage for one of her performances, but I always figured why not get all of the Artaudian benefits from having someone scream in your face for an hour? If anyone can deliver on the the cathartic promise of Theatre of Cruelty, it’s Lydia Lunch.

Audiences leave her shows limp. What do you say in the cab going home about a show that unexpectedly ends in blood-stained golden showers? (Incidentally, she drank an entire six-pack during the play’s penultimate scene. What she unleashed on Cuberio was not a trickle, okay?)

Lydia Lunch’s The Gun Is Loaded video, long out of print, is now available online as a video rental. I actually saw this show twice when she did this material at the Performance Garage space in New York (and yes, I was in the front row both times). Here’s how the filmmakers describe the project:

THE GUN IS LOADED is a 37-minute performance video featuring former punk rocker, political satirist and sexual provocateur Lydia Lunch. 

This video trails Lydia in 1988 through a series of staged sets and location shots in New York City as she fires her spoken word manifesto directly into the eye of the camera, and in haunting voice-over.  Underscoring Lydia’s onslaught is cinema verité footage of bottom-rung Americana: racecar crowds, dead-end streets and meat packing plants effectively illustrate her ruthless examination of “the American dream machine turned mean.”  J.G. Thirlwell’s ominous score magnifies this brutal desolation. 

Identifying herself as “the average, all-American girl-next-store gone bad,” Lydia vivsects her own sustained damage as a product of this emotionally ravaging environment.

Co-director Joe Tripician wrote to me on Facebook:

This was partially shot at the Performance Garage, but without an audience. Lydia asked me and my former partner Merrill Aldighieri to record her show, but we wanted to expand the production from its theatrical base and exhibit her in an outside environment. So, this video is also a document of the ‘80s NYC street life—from the 14th Street Meat market to Wall Street. We called it a “video super-realization” of her spoken word performance.

In the video she fires her venom directly into the camera lens, and in an intimate voice-over. J. G. Thirlwell supplied the original music score - a one-of-a-kind aural onslaught.

It was released on VHS in the late 80s, but has never aired on TV. The one response we received was from PBS, who called the video in their rejection letter “exceptionally unacceptable.”

They were probably right about that! You can rent The Gun is Loaded here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Public Enemy keeps sayin’ it in a brand new video

Public Enemy’s explosion onto the American music scene in the mid-to-late-‘80s transformed the musical views of a lot of people, myself included. These guys were the full package. Sonically they fused hardcore New York rap style with militant black power lyrics and a dense, bombastic sample-heavy rhythm attack. Visually, they had a solidly political graphic style and tough, utilitarian fashion sense that accentuated their revolutionary attitude. PE were a dream come true for dorky college students like me who were in love with both serious anarcho-punk bands like the then-recently defunct Crass and black music in general—especially hip-hop. Their 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is a landmark in American pop music.

PE marks their entrance into collectors’ posterity via a 3-CD/3-DVD-photo-book-and-t-shirt box set with a new video for their summer single, “Say It Like It Really Is,” shot in the surprisingly peaceful surroundings of Niagra Falls. Older, but still dangerous minds.

After the jump: a 2007 video re-contextualizing of P.E.’s 1999 tune “I”, with Chuck D. surveying New Orleans’ Ninth Ward…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Rick Santorum’s Anal Sex Problem

So much poetic justice in the world of far Right fucktards today, isn’t there? First the good news about anti-Islamic hate blogger Pamela Geller getting served with a well-deserved lawsuit alleging character defamation, then this hilarious news about Republican idiot Rick Santorum’s problem with… his Google ranking.  You see, if you google Santorum’s name (go ahead, try it) you won’t get to his official website, instead you’ll get to SpreadingSantorum.com, which explains, according to Mother Jones magazine, “that Santorum’s last name is a sexual neologism for “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

Santorum’s problem got its start back in 2003, when the then-senator from Pennsylvania compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, saying the “definition of marriage” has never included “man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.” The ensuing controversy prompted syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, who’s gay, to start a contest, soliciting reader suggestions for slang terms to “memorialize the scandal.” The winner came up with the “frothy mixture” idea, Savage launched a website, and a meme was born. Even though mainstream news outlets would never link to it, Savage’s site rose in the Google rankings, thanks in part to bloggers who posted Santorum-related news on the site or linked to it from their blogs. Eventually it eclipsed Santorum’s own campaign site in search results; some observers even suggested it may have contributed to Santorum’s crushing 18-point defeat in his 2006 campaign against Bob Casey


Bad luck for Santorum, who seems to be making plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 (dream on buddy), here’s another link to SpeadingSantorum.com. Please help spread around a lil’ more Santorum yourself, won’t you, by posting this to your Facebook page and Twitter?

Rick Santorum’s Anal Sex Problem (Mother Jones)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Profane: The transgressive cinema of Usama Alshaibi

The director in a scene from Nice Bombs…
Chicago-based Iraqi director Usama Alshaibi seems to be one of the most prolific Arab filmmakers in the American independent film scene—and he’s almost certainly the most experimental. Working often in close collaboration with his wife Kristie, Alshaibi has jump-started the canon of what we might term transgressive Arab-American film.

In his over 50 short films, Alshaibi has updated the techniques of transgressors like William Burroughs and Kenneth Anger to transmit his obsessions with culture-clash, technology, religion, violence, sexuality and identity. He’s finished four features, two of which deal with porn and STDs, one with cross-cultural relationships and another with the personal reality of post-Saddam Iraq. He has three in production or post-production now, two of which—American Arab and Baghdad, Iowa—portray growing up Arab in the heartland in the in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and today, and the third, Profane, about a Muslim dominatrix in spiritual crisis.

As the news media shamelessly reduces the complex relationship between America and its Arab and Muslim communities into a dopey controversy over where to build a friggin’ cultural center or mosque, we need the perspective and imagination of Alshaibi’s work now more than ever.

Like most hard-working indie filmmakers, Alshaibi can always use financial help making his vision manifest. Click to donate to help him finish Profane or American Arab.

After the jump, check out a clip from American Arab…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
CannaCare ad: California’s first medical marijuana commercial

This is the first known medicinal marijuana advertisement to be aired on television. Commercial provided by permission from CannaCare. This spot first ran on FOX 40 in Sacramento, California in August of 2010.


Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Obama’s Energy Dome


Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
American Idiots: New Left Media on the real story of the ‘Restoring Honor’ rally

I will admit to being somewhat crestfallen at the lack of loony-toons wingnuts on parade in all the reporting on the Glenn Beck event over the weekend. Somewhat crestfallen? Who am I kidding? I waited all week long to see a bunch of crazy, ignorant white people with low IQs spouting off on television about things they know nothing of and regurgitating, parrot-style, the predictable tropes and catchphrases that they’d been fed by Fox News, World Net Daily and Rush Limbaugh.

But there was so little of it. What a letdown! The reporting—and what transpired onstage with Beck, Palin, et al—was too bland to even hold my attention. I wanted to see foaming at the mouth nutcases, zany racist signs, people dressed as giant tea bags, in Confederate flag jumpsuits, etc, etc. Perhaps because signs were discouraged, the visuals were lacking, but it sure took all the fun out of the cable new coverage of the event.

But now Chase Whiteside and New Left Media have posted their take on the “Restoring Honor” event and well, it looks to me as if the job the major news channels did has been bested by the “indie” coverage of some students from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. It’s not like you couldn’t throw a rock the distance of, oh, about 12 inches without hitting an idiot, so how did the mainstream media miss these kooks and ignoramuses?

The story that’s not being examined—but should be—is is how fucking DUMB about a quarter of this country is. It’s not Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or Ted Nugent or any of the rest of them, who are the story, they’re merely symptoms of the greater problem: 20-25% of the American population are abject idiots. That’s the story I want to see the media tackle.

Via The Daily What

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Putin rides a Ritz cracker



(via KMFW)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Beautiful Failure on Film: Fanny Kaplan’s Unsuccessful Assassination Attempt on Lenin

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” That common platitude seems entirely apropos today, on the 92nd anniversary of the attempted assassination of Communist Russian leader Vladimir Lenin by young Fanya Yefimovna “Fanni” Kaplan.

The Ukranian-born Kaplan was born in 1890 to a Jewish family and joined the Socialist Revolutionaries (or Esers) early on in life. At 16, she was busted for her involvement in a terrorist bomb plot and sent to one of Tsar Nicolas II’s Siberian prison for 11 years. Kaplan’s brutal tenure there was cut short after the February Revolution led by Lenin.

But her disillusionment with the leader came hard and fast, as Lenin’s Bolsheviks sought and succeeded to dissolve the elected Constituent Assembly, a key instrument of democracy during the revolution. Lenin’s move in 1917 to put all power in the hands of the workers councils—or Soviets—convinced Kaplan to take matters into her own hands.

As portrayed in the clip below from Mikhail Romm’s 1939 propaganda film Lenin in 1918, Kaplan got three or so shots off after the leader spoke at a Moscow factory. Lenin, who was 48 years old at the time, was hit in the shoulder and jaw—he survived, but the injuries were thought to contribute to his death by stroke 6 years later.

Fanny was shot dead five days after the attempt at age 28, and within a few hours the Red Terror—a four-year program of mass arrest and execution of counterrevolutionary enemies of the state—had begun.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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