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Tommy Tompkins' extreme measures

Friday, October 22, 2004
    Writer moves to L.A., gets confused, naps

    So I decided to catch up on the bloodletting at the Getty - the sacking of director Deborah Gribbon - by the Getty Trust Prez (not a man but a machine, a new Porsche SUV, talk about good-looking art, this baby is fully loaded with ultraviolet lamp, large mirrors, and driver, a tanned, glib assembly line product the workforce calls Barry Munitz).

    Anyway, after stumbling through L.A. Observed, I realized all roads on this matter lead back to - where my next-door-neighbor Tyler Green holds forth. So go there, please, and you'll find all you need to know about the Getty crisis, the Corcoran crisis (that's the museum in D.C., not the men's prison in Cali. Green has it all, and on top of that, he morphs into Howard Cosell calling the Ali-Frazier fight while discussing the comments of Hugh Davies, who heads the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (and was, I believe, a classmate of mine at Princeton a few years back). Davies - he has juice, ok? - says, among other things: "First John Walsh left, then Stephen Rountree [executive vice president and chief operating officer], then Barbara Whitney. The last straw is Deborah Gribbon. I see this as part of a deliberate and deeply troubling purge of the best and the brightest people in the field." You go, Hugo.

    posted by TommyT @ 5:53 pm | Permanent link
    Peace, love, and targeted assassination

    At what point does the response of people to the murder of another Palestinian leader by the Israeli government indicate the failure of murder as a strategy for anything but inciting further hatred and violence? So far, 175 Palestinian leaders have been assassinated by Israel since 2000, and as the outpouring of anger and sorrow at the funeral of Adnan al-Ghoul indicates, resistance had galvinized, and peace is nowhere in sight. al-Ghoul was killed Thursday night in an airstrike on the car he was in, after which Israeli spokespeople explained the logic and underlying moral high ground of the attack.

    posted by TommyT @ 4:54 pm | Permanent link
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
    Ariel Sharon: Fascist, Tyrant and Murderer

    Dear Readers, I couldn't find the link for this op ed piece that ran last Sunday
    in an Israeli newspaper. But read on and if you haven't got doubts or disagreements with Israeli policy vis a vis Palestine, reconsider the things you take as certainties.

    Sharon's Thinking


    by Uri Avnery, October 17, 2004, Gush Shalom

    By now, everybody has had a go at analyzing the interview with Dov ("Dubby") Weisglass, Ariel Sharon's most intimate confidant. But there is precious little to analyze. His statement is crystal clear: the "redeployment plan" was designed to "freeze" the peace process for decades, to put all peace plans "in formaldehyde", to put an end to the possibility of a Palestinian state, once and for all. What really is important is not what he said or why he said it, but the world-view that animates him.

    A dozen small settlements will be dismantled in order to keep practically all the 250,000 West Bank settlers where they are. Israel will "concede" the Gaza Strip, which constitutes 1.3% of pre-1948 Palestine, in order to take permanent possession of the West Bank, which is 16 times larger. The Gaza Strip will be cut off from the world on land, by sea and in the air, as will the seven or eight similar Palestinian enclaves that will come into being on the West Bank.

    Why did "Dubby" disclose this plan? After all, the disclosure was like spitting in the face of the Labor Party, exactly when Sharon needed them most!

    The answer is simple: Sharon wants to convince the right and has only contempt for the left. 13 out of the 40 members of his Likud faction in the Knesset abstained from voting for him this week, although the vote was about nothing more then a resolution to "take notice" of an unimportant speech of his. Sharon wants to explain to the extreme right wing of his own party that "disengagement" is a war-plan rather than a peace-plan, a plan to annex territories rather than a plan to "give up" territories, a plan for the rapid expansion of the West Bank settlements rather than a plan to dismantle the settlements in the Gaza Strip.

    Sharon cannot say so openly without making a fool of George W. Bush. That's why he sent his trusted lieutenant to say it instead of him. The settlers know, of course, that "Dubby" is His Master's Voice.

    Sharon can afford to treat the "left" with disdain. Witness the farce with Shimon Peres: he analyzed Weisglass' statement in an uncompromising Knesset speech and condemned Sharon acidly. Immediately afterwards he assembled the Labor Knesset faction and asked them not to vote against Sharon. But the Members were so convinced by his speech that they overruled him, 10 to 9. "I was too successful," Peres complained.

    Thereafter, the two "leftist" parties, Labor and Yakhad (formerly Meretz) announced that they were going to vote for the disengagement plan when Sharon submits it to the Knesset. No disclosures will cause them to desist. Sharon knew that he could rely on their feebleness, and how right he is.

    Only Weisglass himself may pay a price. It is difficult to believe that the beautiful friendship between Dubby and Condy, between Weis and Rice, will hold after Weisglass practically undressed her in public.

    But that is not what is really important. After all, Weisglass did not reveal anything new to those who know Sharon's intentions. And whoever wants to deceive himself will continue to do so.

    What is really important is the Weltanschauung, the world-view of Sharon as it emerges from Weisglass' long interview. When he exposes Sharon's ways of thinking, this sheds light on the basic beliefs and perceptions of his master.

    Sharon's world is one-dimensional, as limited as the flat world before Galileo. A world where brute force, and only brute force, reigns supreme. This is a world where there is no past and no future, no lessons of history and no foreseeing of things to come. Whatever exists now will exist forever.

    This is a world without moral constraints, where the opinions of mankind do not count. The world of Stalin, who once asked contemptuously: "How many divisions has the pope?" His world looks like this: The only thing that counts is the interest of Israel and the Jewish people (as seen by Sharon). Their interest is to take possession of all of the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan (at least). The Palestinians are powerless. Hence, they are nothing more than an object to be kicked around as much as one pleases.

    Europe is a pathetic lot. To hell with Europe. There is only one real power in the world: The United States. They are the "world management". All the power of the US is concentrated in the White House. The President and a handful of other people are the managers.

    That's how it is now, and that's how it is going stay in future. Therefore, all we need is to maintain the power of the Israeli army and the alliance with the White House. All the rest is nonsense, fantasies of eggheads.

    The Israeli army and the White House - that is the winning combination. With it we shall take complete possession of the whole country. There is no need for a peace process, indeed, there is no need for peace. The Palestinians are a negligible factor. Let them vegetate for the time being in their ghettos. In due course, they will disappear from the country.

    This is, in free translation, the world of Sharon according to Weisglass. On the face of it, a realistic picture. Sharon's thoughts are primitive, and perhaps because of this, one might believe, he sees things as they really are.

    Really? Is this in truth the real picture? History shows that brute military power is a blunt instrument that cannot solves complex problems. A leader who puts his sole trust in it will discover that it is a broken reed which wounds the hand that grasps it. What Thomas Jefferson wrote in the American Declaration of Independence about "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind", was not just an empty phrase. It was a realistic appraisal: world public opinion influences in a thousand ways the behavior of nations and governments. It can have far-reaching effects. "The pen is mightier than the sword," according to a British poet. And the pope does indeed have divisions, even it they don't march on the parade ground.

    Military might is but one of the forces active in the world. Economic forces do not have a smaller impact; as a matter of fact, their impact may be much bigger in the long run. Moral forces are invisible, but their impact is immense. One of the greatest military leaders in history, Napoleon, was well aware of this.

    The human craving for freedom is invincible, and so is the struggle of oppressed nations for liberation. To ignore this is not realism, it is blindness.

    Even George W. Bush, himself no less primitive and brutal than Sharon, is learning that the "world management" is subject to severe limitations, as he slowly sinks into the morass of Iraq. The belief that Israel's problems can be solved solely by an alliance with the "world managers" is an illusion.

    The world is not one-dimensional, even though one country has attained an impressive military superiority. The world is a very complicated place; numberless forces are at work, nothing stays in one place. "Everything is in flux," as the ancient Greek philosopher said.

    One is tempted to paraphrase Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Arik, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    The world-view of Sharon, which at first appears so realistic, is the very opposite of realism. It is a view that will lead us to disaster.

    And to Dubby, who disclosed it, whatever his motives, many thanks.

    As if in confirmation of above . . .

    Confirming The Kill

    Just last week I visited a well-known high school in Jerusalem. A good many of the students I spoke to told me appalling things. They said: When we are soldiers, we will kill old people, women and children without giving it a thought. They said: We will expel them, we will put them on planes and fly them to Iraq. We will fly hundreds of thousands of them. Millions. And most of the students in the audience applauded those opinions. They supported them even when I pointed out that that is how people talked 60 years ago in Europe.

    Avrum Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset: On The Eve Of Destruction

    posted by TommyT @ 11:36 am | Permanent link
    Top Dog/Underdog's Nuthin' But A Wiener

    I couldn't find the byline at first, and thought that perhaps a copy editor had committed a mercy killing - because the article on the emergence of black theater that ran Sunday at www.ct.com, the online wing of the Hartford Courant is so, well, so loaded with insensitive observation that at first I thought it was parody.

    The paper's theater columnist - his name is Frank Rizzo, and I imagine it's just unfortunate that he shares his name with the racist thug who back in the day was Philadelphia's police chief and then its mayor - points out that despite hard times for theaters that "specialize in works of the black experience," there is "in the midst of this trauma...hope, and perhaps a cultural seismic shift."

    "Why," you might ask? Here's why: "The biggest nonmusical hit of last Broadway season was the revival of the 45-year-old play A Raisin in the Sun." That's the production that featured P-Diddy, along with Audra McDonald and Phylicia "Mrs. Huxtable" Rashad (the latter pair scored "Tony's" for their efforts.)

    And all I can say is god damn, y'all, if that's a cultural seismic shift - audiences buying tickets to a production of an already cannonized half-century old play with the most bankable name in pop music in a lead role- what's Rizzo going to say when he finds out about The Jeffersons?

    posted by TommyT @ 12:43 am | Permanent link
Sunday, October 17, 2004
    The WMD is the bomb

    Or so said a Baltimore beat cop to a junkie tonight on The Wire, after Five-0 dropped off a van full of junkies at the city's new designated drug zone. It was - as one cop observed - like the prostitutes in the windows in Amsterdam. It may be true that one can only get rich in the dark, but there are other ways to stay rich. Avon Barksdale is free, Stringer Bell has been taking care of business. Duck.

    posted by TommyT @ 9:47 pm | Permanent link
    The Immortal Soul of Al Green

    Second Time Around, my weekly reissue slot, can be found at the Website of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Have you heard Al Green's new four-CD box? Yeah, there's at least one other (which is fabulous, with lots of live material); and yes, at least four of his early '70s albums for Hi Records were reissued in that past two years. So what; there's no such thing as too much Al Green.

    What's important to know about Al Green – other than that he's possibly the best and most important soul singer to grace the planet – is that he was a God-fearing man singing ungodly music. And the key to his success was that until he gave his soul to the lord and retired from the world of secular music in 1978, he lived uneasily on the divide between the church and the club.

    Love? Devotion? Sacrifice? Guilt? The emotions that were fundamental to the church had their place in the secular world as well. By the mid-'70s, in the wake of the civil rights movement, amid the celebration of secular pleasures that leaked over from the largely white counterculture and marked funk and disco, the church ceased to play the crucial role for a new generation of African Americans that it had for their older brothers and sisters and their parents. But back in the late '50s and early '60s, when singers like Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, the Valentinos, and Curtis Mayfield began recording pop music, the push and pull between heaven and earth, the tension between the forbidden and the desirable, was a positively explosive combination.

    posted by TommyT @ 9:16 pm | Permanent link

    I've decided that this word should be put out to pasture, given the state of the world. R.I.P. The sad truth of the matter is that nothing these days is beyond belief.
    posted by TommyT @ 12:07 pm | Permanent link
    Vietnam, The Oakland Museum, You, My Column

    This version of Extreme Measures - "War Stories" - published every other week or thereabouts in the fabulous indie weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian - ran last week and I should have posted it then. I didn't but that's okay; the exhibit's great, it runs until February, and of course I had a few things to say on the matter. I didn't mention that the New York Times shit all over the exhibit - Times Square, si, Golden Gate Park, no - I mean why bother, they write West Coast coverage in advance. I'm not even going to link to it, unless I can find a free site that's got it up.
    posted by TommyT @ 11:56 am | Permanent link
    Nick Nolte and I

    don't know each other from Adam (although someone once said a long time ago that we looked somethiing each other). But he's got a Weblog that he calls his Diary, and there you go. Oh, and a few other people said we looked like each other when Five-O snapped the ugly, drug-addled mugshots a couple of years ago. But only when I was drug-addled, of course. Which is a rare thing today. I can't remember yesterday.

    posted by TommyT @ 11:45 am | Permanent link
Friday, October 8, 2004
    Lefsetz: Lust for life!

    Bob Lefsetz Copyright 2004

    I'm not sure what to make of Bob Lefsetz, beyond this: the guy loves music, is a radio DJ an L.A. station (sometimes) and spends a lot of time chronicling the decline of the music business as we know it, an obsession that explains his miles-long emailing list. Day before yesterday right here at Tommy T's Extreme Measure, I linked to a piece from *Wired* magazine "The Long Tail," a great article by Chris Anderson exploring what the advent of digital entertaiment will live in out lives.

    What follows is the hearty embrace Lefsetz gave to the article, during which he personalizes the matter in his own unique way,

    According to my P2P expert Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, all modern peer to peer software HIDES the files of the uploaders, so they can't be seen by the RIAA and BPI bots. Yes, your true crime if you're busted by one of these outfits is STUPIDITY! Since if you only upgraded your software to the latest version, you'd NEVER be caught.

    Then again, how would the RIAA and BPI know this. Since they've never traded files. Oh, the prick at the BPI told me he'd SEEN files traded, but isn't that like SEEING two people have sex? If you haven't DONE IT, you truly don't know what it's about.

    And, for these same people at the RIAA and BPI, the luddites who don't surf the Web every day, I recommend the "Wired" article, "The Long Tail" (http://wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html). If you haven't read this article, you're not entitled to an opinion. If you didn't know it EXISTED you should know that you're truly ignorant and know NOTHING about the Internet, since this has been the buzz of the techno-elite since it came out in print form last month and appeared on the Web this week.

    Bottom line, people want everything. And WILL PAY for everything. If it's just priced so damn cheap that it's not WORTH IT to go hunting for it on a P2P service.

    P2P services are not perfect. You DO get mislabeled files. And you DON'T get everything you want. BUT, it's WORTH IT to avoid paying ninety nine cents for a copy protected track. But if it were a nickel, somewhere under twenty cents, and the file were unprotected, it just wouldn't be worth it to take the time to hunt it down on the P2P service.

    But Marty Bandier ain't playing ball. And on some level you can't blame him, because the lying, cheating major labels screw EVERYBODY as a matter of course. Except, that is, for their CEOs, with their fat salaries and golden parachutes. So what's a gridlocked, antiquated industry to DO?? BLAME IT ON THE CUSTOMER!!!

    In time, this whole half decade will be seen as an anomaly. An era of transition. When Mafia-like intimidators were overrun by an honest, tech-savvy younger generation. WHAT, isn't that BACKWARD??? No, NOT AT ALL! The youth believe in the Silicon Valley model. You create greatness, you're well compensated. You PAY for what you get. An iPod is WORTH four hundred dollars. Whereas those running the music industry believe in DISHONESTY, CONFUSION, INTIMIDATION!! Paying for spins. Not paying on contractual obligations. The legal fraternity in on the scam. Why in the HELL does the older generation think that the younger generation should play BALL???

    The younger generation pays and pays. Just ask their parents.

    But they believe in paying a fair price, for a good product.

    AND, they have to have the latest and the greatest.

    P2P is a way station on the road to instant availability of all tracks at all times. They didn't stop people from riding horses because the car was on the horizon. Nor did they stop selling cars once airplanes were invented.

    No, all those modes of transportation coexist. CHARGE for P2P!

    Better is the touch-tone phone example. Once upon a time, we had dial telephones. And then, at the New York World's Fair in 1964 the TOUCH TONE phone was introduced. But it made no impact. BECAUSE IT WAS OVERPRICED! But then you could lease a touch tone phone for only a few dollars more (yes, it used to be you LEASED your phone). Suddenly, DROVES of people started making the switch. Paying extra for CONVENIENCE! Then, EVERYBODY made the switch. You can't even find a dial telephone anymore. And, do you remember the last time you used one...dialing was INTERMINABLE!

    That's technology.

    USED to be that companies charged a fortune when introducing a new technology. But then electronics manufacturers learned. If you were introducing an item with BROAD APPEAL the price should be low INSTANTANEOUSLY, upon introduction! Like with the DVD!

    By selling DVD players for under $200 shortly after they were introduced, the format BLEW UP! And, with a burgeoning player population, more SOFTWARE WAS NEEDED!

    DON'T YOU GET IT??? If the industry just FEEDS online, makes it easy and cheap, the business will BLOW UP!!!

    But no. You've got jerks like Charles Goldstuck saying they're counting on CDs for revenue for the next five years. THIS is like the auto industry seeing Oldsmobile introduce an automatic transmission and then not COPYING IT, like they did, but holding back for TWENTY YEARS. Since the average person knew no better. Even though automatic transmissions made driving so much easier for ALL!

    Shit, I could come up with example after example, right off the top of my head.

    But one of the great things about this industry is the top dogs aren't listening.

    Then again, are you listening to THEM? Would you follow THEM? DOES a sixty year old Doug Morris know to use Firefox instead of IE? Does a seventy year old Clive Davis sit in front of his computer answering his own e-mail, downloading MP3s from Websites all the while? Alain Levy is the brilliant man who put PolyGram out of business by going into the MOVIE business. Yup, he's a gent so caught up in his own ego he can't even see the forest for the trees! Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is an uneducated songwriter who decimated his family's fortune, he doesn't know ONE HUNDREDTH of what a first year college student knows about technology. As for Andy Lack...he wasn't even IN the music business a couple of years back. Would you pluck the general manager of the Yankees from the ranks of SHOE SALESMEN?

    The kids are laughing. They're not scared at all. They KNOW they've got all the power and they can evade the long arm of the RIAA and BPI while barely thinking about it. It's only OLDSTERS who've stopped trading P2P, the ignorant fucks whose elderly friends run record companies.

    JUST because the cartel is run by old, out of touch cutthroat executives does that mean we must play ball THEIR WAY??

    Make no mistake, the consumer is driving this bus. And the consumer knows what's fair. He'll pay for music, but only when the fat cats sell it to him THE WAY HE WANTS IT!! CHEAP AND UNPROTECTED!!!!

    posted by TommyT @ 11:07 pm | Permanent link
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
    The Hit Charade

    The future of music is so bright that it's time to follow the advice of Pat McDonald and Barbara Kooyman - aka Timbuk 3 - and put on the shades. And I'm not kidding, okay? It's all about 0s and 1s, which - since the R.I.A.A. can't count that high - are undoing life as we once knew it. Cold, fresh springs have gradually emerged in the dry music desert, none more refreshing than saying goodbye to the tyranny of the platinum album; farewell to "I don't hear any singles," the mindless mantra of the industry exec. In a world which is rapidly going to hell on a sled, the future of music is improbably bright. Sit down, crank up the gig Kanye West did last night in Seattle - the one you pulled off Limewire this morning - and fix your eyes on what's coming up over the horizon, courtesy of Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief at Wired mag.
    posted by TommyT @ 6:24 am | Permanent link
Sunday, October 3, 2004
    The Wire. Tonight. HBO. Do Not Miss It.

    The best ensemble ever, as far as television goes - check out Clarke Peters, Michael K. Williams, Anre Royo, Wendell Pierce, Seth Gilliam, Sonja Sohn, Lance Reddick, JD Williams, Robert F. Chew, Wood Harris, and move on from there. Season one was fabulous, season two was pretty good, season three is already fabulous, which is all about talent, y'understand? Tune in HBO, tonight at 9 pm for "Dead Soldiers," and see for yourself.

    More on this immediately following the show.

    posted by TommyT @ 6:59 pm | Permanent link


TOMMYT archives

About Tommy
Tommy Tompkins has been on full alert for most of his adult life, looking for art endowed with sufficient power, wisdom, courage, and grace to save a struggling humanity from itself... More

About Extreme Measures
Extreme Measures comes at you at a time when, as a society, we are experiencing a kind of aphasia; language has been so distorted by corruption of aging institutions and the commercial pressures of an all-consuming, popular culture that our range of motion -- our ability to feel, to dream, to rage beyond the toothless dictates of media and capital -- has been critically circumscribed.

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The Reading List
Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A:None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day.  Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media.  That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect.  Why do you hate freedom?



Cheap shots, anyone? Hell yes, like shooting fish in a barrel - Crosby, Stills, & Nash, to be exact in "Second Time Around," my weekly reissue column in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

The successful selling of Crosby, Stills, and Nash as one of rock's first "supergroups" was, above all else, a marketing triumph. The insipid folk trio with a penchant for predictable three-part harmonies were packaged as a brilliant, innovative rock band and sold, no questions asked, to a generation that would go on to make history for a consumerism as voracious as its perceptive powers were small...

Read on, please...

Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Greatest Hits (Remastered) (Rhino)

I would have rather been in California than anywhere during those days, and in fact I was in California. Nevertheless, though my ass moved, my ears were another story. Take the O'Jays, for instance, whose blue-collar soul music helped me forget about CS&N's lame folk music.

The core of the O'Jays – Eddie LeVert, Walter Williams, and William Powell – had been together for 14 years when they had their first big hit, "Back Stabbers," during the summer of 1972. Their career had gyrated everywhere except up when they joined forces – for a second time – with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff shortly after the songwriting-production team formed their label Philadelphia International...

Essential O'Jays (Epic/Legacy)

The flurry of reissues may be proof the music industry is dying, but it's produced a few sublime moments, like the "Deluxe Editions" of the Wailers' Burnin' and Catch A Fire. This piece, titled "Wailin'," ran in the Bay Guardian with Jeff Chang's take on the new Trojan Records box, "This Is Pop.".

DURING SO MUCH rain, one – or, in this case, two – bright spots really stand out. Ever since the birth of Napster and the gloomy end of days for the music business, the reissue industry has been going full tilt. It makes sense on both sides of the commercial exchange. For the labels, there's very little overhead and practically no guesswork; deliver Al Green with a couple of mysterious "alternative takes," perhaps a previously unreleased cut, and remixing or remastering – another mystery...
San Francisco Bay Guardian Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Brian Jonestown Massacre: And This Is Our Music
Pitchfork Media, July 19, 2004



Sites I like...

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Oliver Wang's The Pop Life
American Samizdat
Sasha Frere-Jones's SF/J



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