Tag Archives: pop culture

Interesting Times

As I posted over at my place this morning, Mr. Beale and I have just returned from a long weekend in New York City.

New York is both America’s cultural and financial center, so the stuff I see there always resonates on a bigger level with me. It’s a place that always makes me think about where this country is and where it’s going. And sometimes what I think is, WTF? For instance, this, seen somewhere around West 53rd and 7th Avenue:

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I couldn’t see that and not think of Andrew Breitbart ranting, “stop raaaping people … stop raaaping people …” at Occupy Wall Street protestors before his death.

These are strange times we live in and mostly when I write it’s my way of trying to understand What It All Means, which is a very unsatisfying exercise. I just don’t feel like I have the knowledge base required to make sense of this strange world we live in.

For instance, in this era of Scott Walker-style union busting rolling out nationally, corporate media flogging astroturf as populism, and Newt Gingrich waxing nostalgic about child labor, I never thought we’d see a highly commercial hit Broadway musical about … a union organizer. One who organized child laborers to strike against Joseph Pullitzer, the Rupert Murdoch of his day. And did I add it’s produced by Disney, no less?

And yet, “Newsies” is a box office hit, has been nominated for eight Tony Awards, and my theater-industry friends tell me it’s a shoe-in to win Best Musical. Furthermore, while Mr. Beale and I prefer edgier fare, the audience was thoroughly into the show. I’m not talking snooty theater critics, these were families and a large contingent of teenage girls, bused in from the suburbs, cheering and clapping and whistling and wolf-calling all through the show. They loved it.

As a pop culture observer I find this very bizarre. On the one hand we have the ownership class telling us unions kill jobs, taxes hurt job creators, greed is good, and focusing on profits at the expense of workers lower down on the food chain is all part of our free enterprise system. Sure it sucks if hundreds of people lost their jobs so Bain Capital could make a profit but “the free enterprise system can be cruel.” Suck it up and stop whining. The alternative is Socialism and while no one is entirely sure what that is, everyone agrees that it’s Very Bad.

That was not the messge of “Newsies.” The message we heard was, maybe if your dad was in a union the kids wouldn’t have to support the family when he got hurt on the job. Maybe if everyone pulls together and sticks together the ownership class as embodied in the character of Joseph Pullitzer can no longer “treat us like we don’t exist.”

Of course, populist messages have been literary mainstays since forever. I’m just surprised that in this age of the Tea Party and Citizens United and right-wing smearing of Occupy Wall Street that a blatant pro-union message was not just presented from the Broadway stage but so thoroughly embraced. Of course, this fall when they revive “Annie” we’ll see the other side of the 1%, the benevolent Daddy Warbucks. I’m sure that will be a big hit, too. Still, I couldn’t witness the enthusiastic applause and cheers for a successful union strike and not think someone is a little out of touch with the zeitgeist.

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Interesting Times

As I posted over at my place this morning, Mr. Beale and I have just returned from a long weekend in New York City.

New York is both America’s cultural and financial center, so the stuff I see there always resonates on a bigger level with me. It’s a place that always makes me think about where this country is and where it’s going. And sometimes what I think is, WTF? For instance, this, seen somewhere around West 53rd and 7th Avenue:

IMG_0715

I couldn’t see that and not think of Andrew Breitbart ranting, “stop raaaping people … stop raaaping people …” at Occupy Wall Street protestors before his death.

These are strange times we live in and mostly when I write it’s my way of trying to understand What It All Means, which is a very unsatisfying exercise. I just don’t feel like I have the knowledge base required to make sense of this strange world we live in.

For instance, in this era of Scott Walker-style union busting rolling out nationally, corporate media flogging astroturf as populism, and Newt Gingrich waxing nostalgic about child labor, I never thought we’d see a highly commercial hit Broadway musical about … a union organizer. One who organized child laborers to strike against Joseph Pullitzer, the Rupert Murdoch of his day. And did I add it’s produced byDisney, no less?

And yet, “Newsies” isa box office hit, has been nominated for eight Tony Awards, and my theater-industry friends tell me it’s a shoe-in to win Best Musical. Furthermore, while Mr. Beale and I prefer edgier fare, the audience was thoroughly into the show. I’m not talking snooty theater critics, these were families and a large contingent of teenage girls, bused in from the suburbs, cheering and clapping and whistling and wolf-calling all through the show. They loved it.

As a pop culture observer I find this very bizarre. On the one hand we have the ownership class telling us unions kill jobs, taxes hurt job creators, greed is good, and focusing on profits at the expense of workers lower down on the food chain is all part of our free enterprise system. Sure it sucks if hundreds of people lost their jobs so Bain Capital could make a profit but“the free enterprise system can be cruel.” Suck it up and stop whining. The alternative is Socialism and while no one is entirely sure what that is, everyone agrees that it’s Very Bad.

That was not the messge of “Newsies.” The message we heard was, maybe if your dad was in a union the kids wouldn’t have to support the family when he got hurt on the job. Maybe if everyone pulls together and sticks together the ownership class as embodied in the character of Joseph Pullitzer can no longer “treat us like we don’t exist.”

Of course, populist messages have been literary mainstays since forever. I’m just surprised that in this age of the Tea Party and Citizens United and right-wing smearing of Occupy Wall Street that a blatant pro-union message was not just presented from the Broadway stage but so thoroughly embraced. Of course, this fall when they revive “Annie” we’ll see the other side of the 1%, the benevolent Daddy Warbucks. I’m sure that will be a big hit, too. Still, I couldn’t witness the enthusiastic applause and cheers for a successful union strike and not think someone is a little out of touch with the zeitgeist.

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Game Change Or, Now I Want To Claw My Eyeballs Out

We had a hockey game Saturday night and so we DVR’d “Game Change” and I’m just now watching it.

Lots has been written about it, mostly of the “I never thought I’d feel sorry for Sarah Palin” variety. I don’t feel sorry for her. I’m appalled, outraged and pissed off all over again! What the hell? The absolutelast emotion I feel for anyone involved in this debacle is sympathy. Holy shit, this woman didn’t know the basics of contemporary history, let alone the nuances of American foreign policy.

What really gets me is not that the McCain campaign foisted someome so unfamiliar with basic current affairs onto the national stage, but that she was made governor of the state of Alaska in the first place. How the hell did that even happen? I can see the McCain campaign deciding, “well, she’s governor of Alaska, so surely she’seducated, right? She can add two plus two, right?” They completely underestimated the vast dumbing-down of America that has occurred over the past 30 years.

And therein lies our problem. I look at the idiots in Tennessee’s state government and I see crackpots like Rep. Rick Womick, last seen peddlingJohn Birch Society black helicopter conspiracy theories in our state legislature. Somehow these clueless, uninformed blockheads become mayors and then state representatives and state senators and then governors, and before you know it, some desperate fuck decides to put them on a national ticket because it needs some sex appeal. And God help us if next time they get elected. That scares the crap out of me.

I realize this isn’t any earth-shattering revelation, but I feel like until we start expecting better from ourselves we’re not going to get anything better from our political leadership. This fish is rotting from the tail up.

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