Gregg Rickman- The Nature of Dick’s Fantasies – –None of Dick’s 1974 letters to the FBI appear in any of the FBI’s files on him (in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington). He received a polite brush-off response to his first letter, of March 20; it is likely that the FBI ignored his later letters entirely.–There is, moreover, good reason to doubt that many of these letters were ever sent. According to his wife at the time, Tessa Dick, “Phil told me he’d only sent the first three or four letters, and he stopped mailing them, because the FBI had lost interest (or perhaps never had any interest) in the case…” (letter to author, 6/6/91). Asked why, if this were so, so many letters existed not in originals but in carbons, she replied that Dick’s procedure was to “write a letter, address and stamp an envelope, go out in the back alley, and drop the letter in the trash bin.” Dick’s reasoning was that “The authorities will receive the letter if, and only if, they are spying on him”
Total Dick-Head: Merry Christmas To Me! – As a scholar I think these letters are a bit dangerous (as is any piece of evidence however small and seemingly innocuous in the Case of Philip K Dick); as they are the ‘Selected Letters’ I wonder who selected them (that’s probably in an introduction I skipped), what was left out, and why. I have lots of questions, like why does Phil refer to Tessa in one letter as Leslie? Who exactly is ‘Kathy’? And why in the world did PKD write that letter to the FBI about Disch’s Camp Concentration?
Transcript: Climbing Mount Criterion – Roger Ebert’s Journal – I’m extremely lazy in my film reviews, but Matthew Dessem is not. His blog is in-depth reviews of every Criterion Collection film released. Roger Ebert interviewed him: Here is the complete transcript of my Q&A with Matthew Dessum, in which he goes into much greater detail about his adventure that I had room for in the paper. The photo is by Yasmin Damshenas
Is aviation security mostly for show? – CNN.com – “Security theater” refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security. An example: the photo ID checks that have sprung up in office buildings. No one has ever explained why verifying that someone has a photo ID provides any actual security, but it looks like security to have a uniformed guard-for-hire looking at ID cards. Airport-security examples include the National Guard troops stationed at U.S. airports in the months after 9/11 — their guns had no bullets. The U.S. color-coded system of threat levels, the pervasive harassment of photographers, and the metal detectors that are increasingly common in hotels and office buildings since the Mumbai terrorist attacks, are additional examples.
A few interesting links collected November 26th through December 1st:
Movie Review – Gomorrah – Lesser-Known Mobsters, as Brutal as the Old Ones – NYTimes.com – A snapshot of hell, the film takes its biblically inflected punning title from the Camorra, or Neapolitan Mafia, the largest of Italy’s crime gangs, with 100 barely organized, incessantly warring clans and some 7,000 members. Based in and around Naples, the Camorra (it means gang) smuggles cigarettes, drugs, guns and people, polluting the province with fear and worse. Unlike the better-known Sicilian Mafia, which took root in America in the late 19th century and in Hollywood thereafter, the Camorra has never had a significant presence in this country, pop cultural or otherwise. Until now, its reign of terror has been largely in reality and not on the screen, which explains why the world in this film can feel so alien: the movies haven’t yet imagined it.
Gomorrah :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews – The film is a curative for the romanticism of “The Godfather” and “Scarface.” The characters are the foot soldiers of the Camorra, the crime syndicate based in Naples that is larger than the Mafia but less known. Its revenues in one year are said to be as much as $250 billion — five times as much as Bernard Madoff took years to steal. The final shot suggests that the Camorra is invested in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The film is based on fact, not fiction.
This Progression of What – I’ve been writing
These poems every day
For many months now.
Even though I haven’t been paid
A single cent, I’d rather be remembered
For this, these words,
Over being recalled
As an efficient
Trouble in Paradise :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies – The sexual undertones are surprisingly frank in this pre-Code 1932 film, and we understand that none of the three characters is in any danger of mistaking sex for love. Both Lily and Mariette know what they want, and Gaston knows that he has it. His own feelings for them are masked beneath an impenetrable veneer of sophisticated banter.
Herbert Marshall takes ordinary scenes and fills them with tension because of the way he seems to withhold himself from the obvious emotional scripting. He was 42 when he made the film, handsome in a subdued rather than an absurd way, every dark hair slicked close to his scalp, with a slight stoop to his shoulders that makes him seem to be leaning slightly toward his women, or bowing. His walk is deliberate and noticeably smooth; he lost a leg in World War I, had a wooden one fitted, and practiced so well at concealing his limp that he seems to float through a room.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle:They Were Expendable – From the Current – Politeness and bonhomie are strictly provisional, and everybody knows it, which is what gives this film its terrible sadness. In the miserable economy of power in Boston’s rumpled gray underworld, Eddie and his “friends” are all expendable, and the ones left standing play every side against the middle, their white-knuckle terror carefully concealed under several layers of nonchalance and resignation. There’s not a punch thrown, and only two fatal shots are fired, but this seemingly artless film leaves a deeper impression of dog-eat-dog brutality than many of the blood-soaked extravaganzas that preceded it and came in its wake.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is, in many ways, an inside job. Meaning that there’s not a minute spent orienting the view
“The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is so beautifully acted and so well set (in and around Boston’s pool halls, parking lots, side-streets, house trailers and barrooms) that it reminds me a good deal of John Huston’s “Fat City.” It also has that film’s ear for the way people talk—for sentences that begin one way and end another, or are stuffed with excess pronouns. “What you don’t know, it don’t bother you,” a friend might say to Eddie
The Friends of Eddie Coyle :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews – The movie is as simple as that. It’s not a high-strung gangster film, it doesn’t have a lot of overt excitement in it, and it doesn’t go in for much violence. He gives us a man, invites our sympathy for him, and then watches almost sadly as his time runs out. And “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” works so well because Eddie is played by Robert Mitchum, and Mitchum has perhaps never been better.He has always been one of our best screen actors: sardonic, masculine, quick-witted, but slow to reveal himself.
A few interesting links collected June 29th through June 30th:
Matt Taibbi – Taibblog – On giving Goldman a chance – True/Slant – I intentionally put a lot of yes/no questions on that list. If the underlying thinking behind any of those questions was faulty, it would have been easy enough for them to say so and to educate us as to the truth. Instead, here is the response that we got:
“Your questions are couched in such a way that presupposes the conclusions and suggests the people you spoke with have an agenda or do not fully understand the issues.”
…That this is a non-denial denial is obvious, but what’s more notable here is that they didn’t stop with just a flat “no comment,” which they easily could have done. No, they had to go a little further than that and — and this is pure Goldman, just outstanding stuff — make it clear that both I and my sources are simply not as smart as they are and don’t understand what we’re talking about. So the rough translation here is, “No comment, but if you were as smart as us, you wouldn’t be asking these questions.”
Dean W. Armstrong: The intersection of the online/sharing culture, copyright, and photography – The issues are completely muddy and complex–as a photographer, for instance, I feel I should be compensated for my work. Websites like say Chicagoist or Treehugger use flickr CC shared images to illustrate their stories. In the traditional media, the photographer would be compensated for their work, either by being employed or by a fee. This is not being done at all for most of the non-traditional sites on the internet. It is also a truth that these sites probably couldn't afford the going rate for photographs. Getting your image out for people to see for a photographer is a very important thing, but is it driving the image creation business out of a profession and into the hands of casual photographers? (The latin term amateur is perfect for here but misused–these photographers love what they do and are often just as good as a pro, but the amateurs are not paid).
My Dinner With Andre :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies – Someone asked me the other day if I could name a movie that was entirely devoid of cliches. I thought for a moment, and then answered, “My Dinner With Andre.'' …impressed once more by how wonderfully odd this movie is, how there is nothing else like it. It should be unwatchable, and yet those who love it return time and again, enchanted.…
We listen with Wally as Andre tells of trips to Tibet, the Sahara and a mystical farm in England. Of being buried alive and conducting theatrical rituals by moonlight in Poland. Of being in church when “a huge creature appeared with violets growing out of its eyelids, and poppies growing out of its toenails.'' After this last statement, Wally desperately tries to find a conversational segue and seizes on the violets. “Did you ever see that play `Violets Are Blue'?'' he asks. “About people being strangled on submarines?''
Like many great movies, “My Dinner With Andre'' is almost impossible to nail down.