Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Don't Envy Diogenes

     There are pros and cons to virtually every action or inaction in life (I deliberately exclude misactions such as nude sky diving or protesting at a Trump rally). This truism also applies to using book reviews as a guide or link boys before buying a book. My own personal metric is to exclusively read the reviews written by the average man or woman on the street. I deliberately do not seek out the counsel of professional and semi-professional book reviewers. I do this for two reasons:
     #1 As a novelist, I write for John Q. Public. While that may sound like a pretentiously Socialist maxim, it's nonetheless true. I do not write to please literary agents, acquisitions editors, publishing executives, distributors or book reviewers and critics. Doing so would be a guaranteed exercise in futility, not to mention laying down a despicably officious and servile foundation for a career in letters. #2, unless they have a personal grudge based on jealousy, irrational hatred, politics or some other disingenuous agenda, the book-buying, book-reviewing public has nothing at stake.
     On August 23rd, the near-monolithic Penguin-Random House released Caleb Carr's newest novel, Surrender, New York. And of course, handing out ARC's (Advance Reading Copies) and Kindle freebies to those chosen for the Vine program to select critics and other New York Times bestselling authors is part of the pre-publication process. (Oddly enough, the only blurbs from reviews on the back of SNY are of Carr's previous bestsellers, including The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness and The Legend of Broken.)
     These, obviously, usually are the source of the blurbs that appear on the back cover and opening pages for when a title is launched. Not long after I began blogging, I used to get ARC's myself from several major publishers until a decade or so ago. Among the titles sent to me: The late Helen Thomas' Watchdogs of Democracy, a biography of IF Stone and Glenn Greenwald's How Would a Patriot Act?
     I don't know how my email address got on the monitors of these publicity outreach people but that's beside the point. It became apparent that when the reviews didn't come from me, the books and offers stopped just as suddenly as they appeared. And this is my central point in this article, one I'll revisit. And my other point is about the pitfalls of writing, and being advised by, professionally-commissioned book reviews.
     As intimated above, I'm speaking only of those written by staff or freelance book reviewers and the usual bestselling novelists. I don't include in this jeremiad those execrable Kirkus reviews costing unwary authors $600 and up for a short piece written by an underpaid intern who lifts literally two thirds of the text from the book itself. Besides, paying for a review, then presenting it to the world as proof of your salability is not only the mark of a rank amateur but is also extremely unethical.
     I'm talking about guys like Michael Connelly.
     On August 15th in the New York Times, the creator of Harry Bosch wrote a review of Carr's Surrender, New York that can be most forgivably described as, well, forgiving. In the first two paragraphs of "Caleb Carr’s New Thriller Takes On Fancy Forensics", the second being tediously teutonic, Connelly snuffles on about the role of forensic science and its evolution in latter day crime detection. Almost as if delaying an onerous task, in these opening 250 words, Connelly doesn't even mention Carr or his new opus until the opening sentence of the third paragraph.
     Now, before I proceed I'm going to insert a disclaimer here that I had just yesterday received Carr's book. Ergo, I've obviously not read it nor will I read it until I finish the novel I'm currently reading (The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson). So this is not intended to be read nor written as a critique of the book in question.
     As stated, Connelly, true to his ultimate loyalties, is very indulgent and forgiving towards his fellow bestselling novelist and it's easy to think this is where he made his first mistake.
     ("But, Robert", you're even now asking, "if Connelly read the book and you didn't, you're in no position to be critiquing his critique!" Right you'd be but this is not a critique of Connelly's book review but one of the entire practice.)
     Now, as with writers, there are several things publishing houses will never own up to even on pain of death (such as the massive, undeclared kickback scheme designed to safeguard the interests of agents instead of their authors and 90% of their books losing money, anyway, despite this borderline criminal practice). Sending out ARC's to reviewers to get positive blurbs for the dust covers is one of them. Officially, the potential reviewer is under no obligation whatsoever to regurgitate a positive review of a title proffered to them.
     Having said that, it also needs to be explicitly stated and understood that both the publisher and reviewer (especially if they're a star author) have something at stake in producing a good review. The publisher, after all, is trying to sell the thing and a bad review will not help to that end. A bad review will simply not appear on the dust jacket or flyleaf unless there's some nugget of applause the publisher can lift out of context. And for the author/reviewer, there's something else at stake-
     Free publicity.
     While they're officially under no pressure to produce a glowing review, people like Michael Connelly know that if they pan the book or fail to write a review, they will lose that free publicity that only comes with literally piggybacking on a new bestseller. To believe otherwise of such cynical motivations would be the height of naïveté. After all, their name is mentioned as well as one or two of their more recent titles. Eventually, as in my case, the offers abruptly stop coming.
     It's an ingenious way of getting your brand out there without having to pay publicists. And while these reviews are unpaid (paying reviewers, again, is extremely unethical), reviewing books is also a lucrative sidelight if they can get it printed, say, by the New York Times as Connelly did or some other major outlet. So, technically, they're still getting paid as if they're on staff. It's just not the publisher who's paying them.
     Just as publishers would like to keep mum or refuse to admit to the uglier realities of the business, writers are also loath to admit certain things (such as who influences them). One of them is the stark reality that writers by and large loath each other. Of course, this isn't an absolute. But for every friendship of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg (friends of Carr's father Lucien), there are perhaps hundreds of Jack Kerouac/Truman Capote antagonistic relationships.
     Many of them, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, were manufactured feuds that were created and, in some cases, kept running for years just to stir up publicity to sell books. But today, the antagonism is very real, oftentimes for legitimate or seemingly legitimate reasons ("That isn't writing," Capote once said of Kerouac, "that's typing.") But when swallowing one's pride (and bile or gorge or what have you) means the difference between getting your brand out there or not, even a bestselling novelist always keeping an eye on their latest sales report will dutifully churn out a benevolent review of a writer they may personally and professionally detest.
     But there may also be another reason. Personal and literary differences aside, one may also detect or suspect a pernicious strain of elitist protectionism when one author lauds another. There's a successful propaganda campaign I suspect has been put out there by literary agencies and especially publishers that independent writers' productions literally aren't worth the paper they're written on. Some actually believe this and elitist, bestselling authors are certainly no exception. At the end of the day, they will stick together and support each other even if for no other reason than mutually supporting what's come be accurately known as legacy publishing.
     And here I turn back to my original point as to why I do not trust nor even read reviews by elitist authors such as Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver (whose overly formulaic books I don't even read any longer), James Patterson and other arrogant bestselling authors who deign to tell us who and what to read. It's as if their success and wealth makes them unimpeachable arbiters of what's worth or not worth reading. Sure, people are more prone to listen to the opinion of Stephen King, another prolific reviewer, than Joe Blow. But, again, at the end of the day, they will default to protecting what they have at stake and their opinion on a title is no better than anyone else's.
     And this is why I trust the book-buying public and not the "pros." After Connelly's review came out in the Times, it began getting a sprinkling of mentions in the reviews that trickled in. And what Connelly said seems to be at stark odds with the nearly 50% of Amazon reviewers who'd given it one or two stars. At one point, Connelly diplomatically insists,
It adds up to a languid but intoxicating pace. This is a novel you set time aside for. It is charming and eloquent between the horrors it captures. A mobile home gets a grim 150-word description before we even view the truly horrible contents inside. But that lengthy description ends, like all such accounts in Carr’s capable hands, with words that can’t help propelling the reader to enter: “If ever a place promised not only a crime but a history of singularly grim details, we had reached it.”
Jones and Li go through that door, and the reader is more than willing to follow.
     No, not necessarily. While I suspect some of the reviewers weren't intellectually qualified to read a book such as Surrender, New York, it struck me that many more intelligent readers didn't get through it for the simple reason that they couldn't. Here's one recent two star review:
This novel appeared on the front page of the New York Times Book Review with Michael Connelly gushing at the end, "It is hard to resist a character with such eloquent charm and a story with such deep meaning, no matter what its time and place". Okay... last time I rush to Amazon and purchase a book without reading the reviews there. There is nothing I can add to all the others who expressed their disappointment in this novel. I don't mind a long book. I don't mind meandering sentences. But stilted dialogue? Endless soapbox lectures? Oversized exotic pets walked on a leash? I decided I no longer wanted to waste any more time. Wish I could get my money back.
      And in literally dozens of cases, reviewers complained about the same things in Carr's book: Stilted, unrealistic dialogue; Too wordy; Needs serious professional editing; Editorializing, Too much cursing. None of which being things Connelly singles out for attention.
     It would be very easy to shrug off one or two or even three average people on the street when they make the same criticisms. But when dozens see the same weaknesses that a "pro" like Connelly doesn't or won't by design, then it's not a product of mass hallucination.
     I won't let these startlingly consistent reviews prejudge this book for me. An erudite and often eloquent writer such as Caleb Carr isn't for everyone. After all, largely on the strength of the Kreizler novels, I spent a pretty penny buying it. But it ought to be mentioned here that Carr's current sales ranking is plunging by the mile seemingly with every minute (a few days before its release, SYN was ranked at #41. It's now at #752 and falling like an anvil. The average rating is also an abysmal 2.9 stars out of five).
     Puff pieces like Connelly's may help sell advance copies but at the end of the day, publishers should listen to the book-buying public that entirely determines whether a book succeeds or gets sent to the shredders and pulpers after a few weeks.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Attack of the 50 IQ Moron

(I'm just getting warmed up. I'm sending this by post first thing Monday morning.)

Jim Mallon, CEO
Consolidated Puppets Incorporated
(Formerly Best Brains, Inc)
11 10TH Ave S Ste D
Hopkins, MN 55343–7505

Dear Mr. Mallon:

            I’m writing to you not as a fanboy (although I’ve been a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since the 90’s) but as a concerned fan.
            It had come to my attention some two plus years ago that the name, concept and even physical likenesses of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 franchise and its stars has come under assault in the form of several copyright infringements according to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1996).
            The person committing these acts of copyright piracy is an American individual living in Tel Aviv, Israel by the same Joseph David Chadwick (pen name: Sugar Ray Dodge). Not only does he write, illustrate and publish his own failed attempts at humor using the concept, names and likenesses of those associated with the MST3K franchise, he’s even set up several crowd-funding campaigns (such as this one on https://www.patreon.com/sugarraydodge and this old campaign on Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sugarraydodge/mystery-science-storybook in which he’d, somehow, raked in nearly $3000).
            I’d give you links to his various product pages on Amazon and Blurb but there’s a problem with that. You see, Chadwick made the mistake of violating someone else’s copyright, namely that of James Nguyen, the director and current copyright holder of the Birdemic series of movies. Mr. Nguyen somehow discovered (because Chadwick is quite an obscure writer of no talent whose picture books are shot through with very occasional literacy) that he’d devoted an entire chapter to parodying his first Birdemic movie. Not only did he threaten Chadwick with a $10,000,000 lawsuit for DMCA infringement, the director had even successfully gotten Amazon.com and Blurb.com to remove Chadwick’s product pages for at least the offending title.
            (However, if you’re so inclined, you can do a Google image search using the keywords “Mystery Science Storybook, Sugar Ray Dodge” to see at least a partial extent to which he’s been ripping off the MST3K franchise. In some cases, he’s even used Mike Nelson’s likeness as he also illustrates all his books).
            However, inexplicably (and I’m guessing perhaps this is because it didn’t reference James Nguyen’s copyright), the Kindle version of one of his other books can be found here (https://www.amazon.com/Night-Living-Storybook-Mystery-Science-ebook/dp/B01E6UHHF0) and you can plainly see in the subtitle a partial reference to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 franchise by name.
            I don’t pretend to be a lawyer but my guess is that when one uses a copyrighted name of a movie, book, television franchise or anything falling under DMCA protection and seeks to obtain profit from said copyright infringement, it is a violation of the DMCA.
            The reason I am approaching you with this, aside from your stake and standing in the franchise’s hierarchy, is personal as well as professional. As a self-published author, myself, I am very keen to spot any violations of copyright as that is one of the very few protections afforded the independent writer. It outrages me that Chadwick is making any amount of money by plainly and shamelessly ripping off a concept and franchise (including by name) of which I’ve been a fan for close to 20 years. I would think another independent author of even Chadwick’s middling abilities and obvious intellectual limitations would know better than to violate someone’s copyright for profit and even make a pretense of originating the MST3K concept.
            On a personal note, it ought to be mentioned here that this man, let us charitably call him, is a right wing stalker with a police record who has made my life a living hell. He has terrorized my fiancée with his sometimes alarming behavior, trolling and stalking (he’s visited my blog as many as 700 times a day). Finding that insufficient, he’s also gone to my Amazon product pages, had written bogus one star reviews of my novels that on at least three occasions Amazon had removed. He’s also gone to my alternate blogs, my Goodreads page and left a smattering of one star ratings in an attempt to tank my book sales. He is a right wing bully who can dish it out but cannot take it. As proof of this, he’s now begging for money from his readers because what he’s vainly been attempting to do to me has now happened to him.
            In summation, I should reiterate that Mr. Nguyen’s legal threats would seem to have merit in the very fact that he’s successfully prevailed upon Amazon and Blurb to take down several of his product pages. While this doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of legal consensus, it would seem to indicate that if you were interested in pursuing a parallel lawsuit, you might be able to derive some satisfactory relief from a court. Of course, doing so would be at your discretion.
            Very sincerely,

            Robert Crawford
(Update: Looks as if the Internet's best-loved stalker got his book jerked off a third site and, yes, James Nguyen is behind this heinous act of censorship and assault on Chadwick's "First Amendment right to free expression." Here's my response:


"(T)hinking that people had better things to do with their time than hassle me for wanting to sell my own art."
"Looks like this guy is not going to go away quietly."

Sucks when it happens to you, doesn't it, Chapped Dick?

Btw, I not only emailed James Nguyen on Saturday offering my help, I also alerted Jim Mallon of Consolidated Puppets, Inc. in a letter today to your countless copyright infringements of the MST3K franchise and suggested he might want to begin a parallel lawsuit of his own. I know my literary 
abilities, by your unimpeachably sage and august judgment, is seriously lacking but I think I made myself understood to both.)

The Enemy of Mine Enemy...

(It seems the world's most beloved online stalker is about to be sued for $10,000,000 for copyright infringement by someone in Hollywood. Click on the links for the backstory of this delicious and delightful turn of events. Yet suffice it to say I'd like to offer my help in moving the inevitable along. Consider this the cybernetic equivalent of pulling on a hanged man's legs to speed along the process of execution.)

or An Open Letter to Mr. James Nguyen, director of Birdemic

Moviehead Pictures
7119 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90046

Dear Mr. Nguyen:

     I've recently heard and read about your current troubles concerning one Joseph David Chadwick of Tel Aviv, Israel. I won't belabor what's already obvious to you. Yet the reason I'm writing to you is because I've had past, present and ongoing experiences with this noxious right wing individual who seems to think in his megalomaniacal little mind the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) should be suspended for him. This is part and parcel with conservative "thought", for want of a better word, that certain laws ought to be suspended or that, at the very least, they not be enforced when right wingers choose to break them.

     As stated, Jailbird Joe, as I prefer to call him as he has a police record in Utah, and I have had our... differences, let's call them, that began over two years back when he did not get a follow back from me on Twitter. Pretty soon, he began stalking and harassing me on my blog then, when that wasn't sufficient, he began trolling my Amazon product pages as well as my Goodread account and began putting up bogus one star reviews and ratings of every one of my novels without either buying or reading them. One such "review" of my novel AMERICAN ZEN, was so toxic, garbled with hate and rage and incomprehensible that Amazon.com (in the shape of things to come) took it down twice and Goodreads did the same.
     Essentially, Chadwick and his twin brother John Daniel (currently in Los Angeles dodging his child support obligations) are, by the account of those who had the misfortune and poor judgment to personally know them, amuse themselves by picking fights with random, anonymous people on the internet. Apparently, noticing these ankle-biters and calling attention to their rather disturbing patterns of behavior only fuels their obsession and eggs them on to greater acts of depravity.
     This is a person who is not only trying to destroy my book sales with his fake one star "reviews" but also has no problem with visiting my blog, on some days, 600-700 times, as he did last April 1st (I can prove it in countless screen grabs I'd taken that day and on others). I'd inadvertently reunited him with his future wife, who is also a plainly mentally disturbed right wing nut job and had abandoned Chadwick in 2003 during his final deployment to Iraq on account of his erratic and bizarre behavior (which doesn't explain her subsequent marriage to him but there's no accounting for taste or mental stability in either gender). And both husband and wife, despite the former settling into a new job in a new home in a new country, always seem to have time to try to post sneering, insulting comments on my blog like two malcontents on a playground (I delete them unread).
     Now, Mr. Nguyen, it's became readily apparent to me that you are dealing with an individual that somehow manages to function somewhere between the idiot and moron levels on the Terman IQ index. This is an individual who is so willfully ignorant and lacking in substantive cognitive thinking that he's unaware that:
     #1 Naming a copyrighted motion picture in a project intended to make money is plainly a violation of DMCA and
     #2 No one in their right mind attempts a parody of a parody (Which BIRDEMIC is). But then again, no one of any appreciable intellect ever accused either Chadwick twin of being in their right mind.
     Now he's caterwauling on his blog, using all the appropriate dramatic syntax his shriveled brain can muster, about how you've "declared war" on his book, which is in itself a knockoff of a concept by Best Brains, Inc, the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and a violation of copyright that I am amazed has also not been sued into a richly-deserved oblivion). He's also bandying about words such as "bullying", "censor" and even "threaten". Apparently, when Chadwick bullies others and attempts to tank their book sales, that's all good and well but when he tip toes into my world, he screams like a titty-twisted, hysterical little bitch. Like a typical right winger, he can dish it out but he can't take it. When it happens to him, suddenly it's persecution.
     And, despite inexplicably getting a six figure publishing contract and staff job from some obscure Israeli publisher (by his account, at any rate), he's also trying to solicit donations from his readership to make up for the book sales you're allegedly costing him by convincing Amazon and Blurb to remove his plainly illegal Mystery Science Storybook.
     Here's my proposal: I would like to help you in any way I can, whatever your ultimate aim. As they say, the enemy of mine enemy is my friend and we seem to have someone in common we'd both like to take down. Please email me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss a strategy in dealing with this reanimated gargoyle. I have a lot of personal information about him, including his current IP address and street address in Tel Aviv as well as a treasure trove of other information that may be of some use to your legal team. I await your response, Mr. Nguyen.

Sincerely,

Robert Crawford

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Anderson Cooper 180


     I call it that because that's only half the story.
     A few days ago, a few blogs, some Twitter accounts and an apathetic smattering of MSM outlets reported the news that Donald Trump donated between $100,000 to $250,000 to the same Clinton Foundation that's he's been decrying and demanding to be investigated. So, essentially Donald Trump is calling for an investigation of himself.
     If Trump is trying to position himself as the innocent here by claiming he didn't know it was a whorehouse when he walked in to use the bathroom, he's doing a pretty piss-poor job. Seriously. He's going to have to do a helluva lot better than to say, "The Clinton Foundation's a pay-to-play scam but when I kicked in a small fortune, it was perfectly legit." Uh huh.
     But as I said in the beginning, this is but half the story and Anderson Cooper, true to his Vanderbilt 1% roots, didn't go after the DNC (which is to say, the Clinton campaign) for, in turn, shoveling countless millions of dollars of its own into Trump-owned businesses.
     Granted, we're talking about several financial entities, from the Trump and Clinton campaigns to the DNC, the Clinton Foundation, etc. And perhaps the bewildering array of said entities is the point. After all, this is how money-laundering is done, through at least two such organizations.
     You can download the spreadsheet right here (https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/fileid/10880/5421) then just scroll down until you get the countless consecutive listings with Trump's name and 725 Fifth Ave. Here are some screenshots to get you going:


     As stated, the story of Donald Trump giving up to a quarter of a million dollars to Clinton's sham charity looks bad enough but when you look at the entire story, it gets exponentially worse. And when one looks at the big picture, it's absolutely impossible to see how it looks good for anyone involved. The optics are horrible for Trump, for Clinton, for the DNC, etc.

     The image one gets is of a giant revolving door in which large sums of money get passed from one presidential candidate to the other then large sums of money get passed vice versa, sort of exactly the same way when one paid at least a million dollars to the corrupt Clintons' "Foundation", one got some face time with Hillary and maybe, if you're generous enough, a spot on an important committee or even a lucrative weapons deal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tweets From the Edge, Part ∞



Oh, Shit, Here We Go Again...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mr. Bill Will Not Save the Day

     On Saturday, I posted an Assclowns of the Week in which I'd briefly mentioned the devastating floods in Louisiana these past two weeks. I admit, that was mere token lip service and I haven't done justice to this tragedy. But one trend I've been seeing on both right wing media and even the mainstream media is how Obama's at fault for not being there to provide empty comfort and continuing his vacation.
     Not a word has been said, as far as I can tell, of Bush's inexcusable behavior during at least three trips to New Orleans in Katrina's wake in 2005 and the fact that he was on vacation himself when disaster struck the 9th Ward and elsewhere.
     I'm amazed that people forget this simple fact of our national security protocols:
     Everywhere the President of the United States goes, there's a two mile-wide halo over his head and that halo is called a no-fly zone. It is forbidden for any aircraft not approved by the government, regardless of the nobility of its mission or intentions, to fly anywhere near the president. Bush was painfully unaware of this or blithely dismissive of it when he and Laura Bush made successive trips to New Orleans for their Goddamned photo ops. One of them was when Laura Bush took over a Red Cross aid station for eight hours while they were trying to update their site to tell people where the relief stations were. And the Secret Service threw everyone out so Bush could hand out a single loaf of bread to several people during a transparently superficial and self-serving photo op.
     While Bush was in New Orleans, rescue and recovery helicopters were stranded while Bush pretended to get briefings from idiots such as Michael Brown, as in this famous picture:

     For once in his life, Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps remembering Bush fucking up the recovery efforts during his photo ops, acted like a leader and forbade politicians from going to Louisiana. If you're not going to help, he said, don't come and interfere with police and other first responders. Of course, that didn't stop Donald Trump, who's being cheered by right wing mouth-breathers as a hero for showing up anyway with Mike Pence and handing out Play-Doh for exactly 49 seconds before calling it quits and then giving $100,000 to professional homophobe Tony Perkins so he could rebuild his house.
     And Obama's a bad guy for being on vacation.
     Obama is doing the right thing by not being there. If he'd gone there for self-serving, superficial photo ops, he'd simply be doing more harm than good. Once the president's vacation is over and the water pumped out of the flood zones, I'm confident Obama will do right by his fellow Americans and allocate emergency funds. When the rescue and recovery efforts are concluded, I'm equally sure the president will visit the areas and console the locals.
     So get the fuck off the President's back. Just because he's on vacation it doesn't mean he's powerless and cannot do anything. I'm sure he's been on the phone with Governor Jindal several times and is getting up-to-date briefings and, unlike Bush, actually is engaged. New Orleans is cynically used by white, right winger politicians during every disaster to briefly show their compassion for black people. And it sickens me that the same cocksuckers who called the victims of Katrina "deadbeats", "losers" and "looters" are now feigning concern about them so they can slam President Obama for doing the right thing by not callously hampering the rescue and recovery efforts.

"Excuse my dust."

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
I'm sure that Dorothy Parker would be mortified to still be alive today and more mortified still to learn today would've been her 123rd birthday.
     As many great writers are, Dorothy Parker was what people charitably refer to as "complicated." She was self-effacing (unlike many writers) but she was just as merciless toward those in positions of power, especially right wingers and bigots. She was sitting at the Algonquin Round Table she helped found when news came of Republican Calvin Coolidge's death. It inspired Parker's most famous quip: "How could they tell?" In person, Parker was soft-spoken, which only enhanced and amplified the acidity of her barbs. It was even rumored that when Dorothy Parker was holding court at the Algonquin Table (that decades later she'd come to repudiate), people were reluctant to leave before her for fear of what she'd say about them in their absence.
     Yet Parker's brilliance as a writer and master of the vitriolic aphorism has overshadowed her career as a left wing activist. The overshadowing of her more serious avocation as a liberal muckraker is understandable: Of Viking's famous Portable series, The Portable Dorothy Parker is one of only three still in print (along with Shakespeare and the Bible). Her talent was widely spread out in short stories, verse, poetry and song lyrics, journalism, plays, radio scripts, screenplays, book reviews and virtually every other genre and medium. The winner of two Oscar nominations and an O. Henry Award in 1930, she is generally regarded as one of America's greatest authors of either gender.
     However, Parker's political activism began while she was in her early 30's, specifically during the Sacco and Vanzetti trial of 1927. From that point until her death just nine days before the Monterey Festival in the famous Summer of Love, Parker was increasingly devoted to progressive causes and Civil Rights. In fact, she was so notorious that her co-founding of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (actually a thinly disguised front for Communist causes- Parker was a card-carrying member of that party) was more than enough to earn the attention of J. Edgar Hoover's infamously Learesque FBI: His Bureau had compiled a 1000 page dossier on the writer.
     But it didn't stop with Hoover. Parker had also appeared on the radar screen of Joe McCarthy, the notorious Communist-hunting senator from Wisconsin who, through his hearings, had ended the careers of many Hollywood luminaries. Parker, despite her two Academy Award nominations, was not exempt from McCarthy's baleful ken.
     And lest one think that Parker's concern stopped at American borders, you'd be wrong there. She'd formed an organization called Project Rescue Ship that transported Spanish Loyalists to Mexico and headed the Spanish Children's Relief and even chaired the Joint Anti-Fascist Rescue Committee. While they may have been fronts for Communist causes, no one could doubt Ms. Parker's loathing for and opposition to fascism and right wingers on either side of the Atlantic.
     When Parker died of a sudden heart attack in New York City at the age of 73, the childless author's will bequeathed her entire estate to Dr. Martin Luther King and, when he was tragically assassinated less than a year later, it was transferred to the NAACP. On the 95th anniversary of her birth, that civil rights organization erected a cenotaph at the site of Parker's birthplace in New Jersey. During that 21 year interregnum, it would've amused Parker to know that, since no one claimed her ashes, they sat, fittingly, in her attorney's file cabinet for 17 years. (Her proposed epitaph was, "Excuse my dust.")
     While Parker had friends and more lovers than posterity will likely ever get to count, it can be said her love for humanity was exercised at a more abstract level through her political and social activism. She was often a sad, lonely woman who, like Billie Holliday, was a brilliant and gifted lady who nonetheless made an unbroken string of bad choices in men. And it was that brilliance that answers the occasional question of why she has never fallen into disfavor or neglect in the nearly half a century after her death.
     That is because, like Sylvia Plath and several others, Parker showed us how dangerous and devastating a lady of intelligence and a sharp wit can be in a male-dominated society. Yet let us not forget Parker's lifelong commitment to progressive causes that she'd effortlessly juggled with and folded into her immortal literary canon.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

...And Sometimes CNN Gets it Just Right

     It looks something out of The Onion but that's because it's as if The Onion is scripting the Donald Trump campaign. This screengrab was taken from a Youtube video of a CNN panel that went berzerk when the Trump apologists opened their mouths to claim Donald Trump was a Civil Rights champion because he allowed blacks and Jews into one of his country clubs. Yes, they actually think that qualifies as civil rights activism.
     Forget that Malcolm X and Dr. King lost their very lives to that end or that Rep. John Lewis had his skull bashed in in the good name of Civil Rights or that Bernie Sanders was arrested for trying to integrate a university or that three young Civil Rights workers were murdered in Mississippi in the fight for equality. To the white twit you see above, expanding country club admission policies is equal to all those risks and often fatal consequences.
     The original video can be seen here. I've already had my fun.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #106: The Turkey Has Landed edition
  • #105: Blame it on Paris or Putin edition
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Top 10 Things Donald Trump Said to President Obama
  • Paul Ryan's Top Ten Conditions on Running for the Speakership
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016
  • Top 10 Results of the NYPD's Work Slowdown
  • Top 10 Secret Service Security Breaches
  • Top 10 LA Radio Shows That Are Rated Higher Than Rush Limbaugh's
  • Top 10 Reasons Operation American Spring Went Flat
  • Top Ten Facts of the MH370 Air Disaster
  • Top 10 Tips for GOP Congressmen Running Against Women
  • Top 10 Signs Walmart's Mistreating its Workers
  • Top 10 Diversions John McCain Found During Syria Hearing
  • Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding.
  • Top 10 Reasons Paula Deen Got Fired by the Food Network
  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis is Deviating From Convention
  • Top 10 Reasons For the Pope's Resignation
  • Top 10 Emails Hacked From the Bush Family's Email Accounts
  • Top 10 Lies Told by Mitt Romney at the 2nd Debate.
  • Top 10 Examples of How Hard the Campaign Trail is on Ann D. Romney.
  • Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished.
  • Top 10 Things Mitt May be Hiding in His Tax Returns.
  • Top 10 Events at the Romney Olympics.
  • Mitt Romney's Top 10 Wild & Crazy Moments.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Dick Cheney Got a Heart Transplant.
  • Top 10 Facts About Tonight's New England/Denver Game.
  • My Top 10 Resolutions.
  • Top 10 Rejected Slogans of the Romney Campaign.
  • Top 10 Reasons Herman Cain Suspended His Campaign.
  • Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter During #OWS Eviction.
  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Christwire.org: Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Salon.com.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find Articles.com, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • Dictionary.com.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • anysoldier.com
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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