Roaming Charges: Mad at the World

Hyena on the Animal Wall, Cardiff Castle, Wales. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“If you’re not mad at the world, you don’t have what it takes.”

– Sun Ra

+ A trove of newly disclosed documents show how Robert Oppenheimer’s boss, the imperious Gen. Lesley Groves, repeatedly downplayed the risk of radiation exposure from atomic testing and the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki themselves. Groves claimed those hit with lethal doses of radiation would die “without undue suffering. In fact, they say it is a very pleasant way to die.” It turns out that Oppenheimer himself was intimately aware of Groves’ deceptions about the dangers of radioactive fallout. But even after leaving the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer kept quiet about the grotesque consequences of Groves’ lies.

+ Hideko Tamura Friedman, recalling the day her city was bombed, when she was 10: “On that day, August 6 in Hiroshima, the sun and the earth melted together. On that day, many of my relatives and classmates simply disappeared. I would never again see my young cousin Hideyuki, who had been like a brother to me, or Miyoshi, my best friend. And on that day of two suns, my Mama would not come home for lunch.”

+ Nagasaki Mayor Shiro Suzuki, both of whose parents were survivors of nuclear bombings, calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons on the 78th anniversary of the atomic destruction of Nagasaki: “Now is the time to show courage and make the decision to break free from dependence on nuclear deterrence.”

+ Forget going to see Christopher Nolan’s bloated exercise in sanitized nuclear hagiography and instead watch The Strangest Dream, Eric Bednarski’s compelling 2008 documentary on Joseph Rotblat, the Polish physicist, who resigned from the Manhattan Project in protest after it became clear that Nazi Germany had ended its nuclear weapons research program. Rotblat was a driving force behind the 1955 Albert Einstein-Bertrand Russell Manifesto, which called for nuclear disarmament and a negotiated end to the escalating Cold War. Rotblat went on to co-found the anti-nuclear Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs, with whom he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 “for efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.” Rotblat, along with Leo Szilard and Joseph Franck, was a consistent voice of sanity amid a throng of mad scientists. The film can be viewed here online courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

Rotblat’s Manhattan Project badge photo.

+ A military briefing in January disclosed that at least 9 former “Missileers” at the Malmstrom nuclear missile base in Montana have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, likely caused by high levels of PCBs unsafe levels detected at underground launch control centers.  The revelations prompted the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine launch a study looking at cancers among the entire missile system, looking for possible of clusters of the disease. But the toxicity of the missile sites is something that environmentalists and veterans of the missile sites have long suspected, despite denials from the Air Force and Department of Energy. In fact, according a study by the Torchlight Initiative, at least 268 troops who served at nuclear missile sites, or their surviving family members, have self-reported being diagnosed with cancer, blood diseases or other illnesses over the past several decades.

+ Undeterred, in a project supported by Obama, Trump and Biden the US plans to spend more than $1.7 trillion well into the 2040s to operate and upgrade its 3,800 nuclear weapons and replace all our ICBMs, SSBNs, ALCMs, and most of its nuclear bombers. Cancers be damned.

+ In 2022, the top five Pentagon weapons contractor made $196 billion. According to an analysis by Responsible Statecraft, these companies got 71 percent of their total revenue from military contracts with Lockheed Martin leading the parade by pocketing 96 percent of its total revenue from military contracts.

+ I don’t know what it says about the Modernist tradition that two of the most infamous men of the Cold War, Robert Oppenheimer and the CIA’s longtime counter-intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, both considered themselves poets and idolized T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” which each in their own ways they tried to recreate on Earth.


+ This is great news for the coup-plotters at the CIA, if true!

+ According to Germany’s anitsemitism Czar (Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Antisemitism) Felix Klein: “To accuse Israel of apartheid delegitimizes the Jewish state and is therefore an anti-Semitic narrative.” Klein might want to run that assertion by the more than 570 Jewish Studies scholars, from both within and outside of Israel, have signed a statement explicitly stating the Occupation now amounts to apartheid.

+ Nevo Erez, outgoing commander of the Mossad’s Division of Operations: “We harmed people who we didn’t need to harm; we always knew that the [Supreme] Court would give us its backing. I’m worried about the moment when the international community won’t allow our courts to protect the army.”

+ The Australian government announced this week that it will use the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” for West Bank and East Jerusalem and refer to Israeli settlements as “illegal.”

+ Meanwhile, Israeli Defense minister Yoav Gallant is in Curtis LeMay mode: “If there is a conflict, we will send Lebanon back to the Stone Age.”

+ More evidence has been disclosed showing the pressure applied by the US on Pakistan toward ousting Imran Khan as Prime Minister. A Pakistan government document “reveals both the carrots and the sticks that the State Department deployed…promising warmer relations if Khan was removed, and isolation if he was not.”


+ Coming this Fall: How to Luxury Travel the World on Less Than a Dollar a Day by Clarence Thomas…

+ According to the Pro Publica report, one of Thomas’s long-time benefactors, the billionaires of the Horatio Alger Society, used him to literally auction off access to the Court building itself: “ProPublica examined boxes of the association’s historical archives, including financial records that show the group has required donations of at least $1,500 $7,500 for nonmembers – to attend the Supreme Court event. In 2004, those who donated $100,000 for a table at the main ceremony got 10 seats inside the Supreme Court.”

+ An Arkansas woman called 911. When the cops arrived, an officer was frightened by her Pomeranian, shot at the dog and missed, hitting the woman in the leg. The cop then tries to tell her the bullet hole in her leg is probably just a scratch from the dog.

+ Cops in Portland, Oregon have been telling city residents that their crime-fighting hands are tied by the reformist DA Mike Schmidt so frequently that Police Chief Chuck Lovell sent out an email to the entire police bureau telling them to stop doing so.

+ Last month, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down extended psychiatric holds “even when done for the person’s own good” as a form of involuntary detention without due process of law.

+ Percy Taylor spent more than 20 years in a Louisiana prison, after being convicted of selling marijuana and cocaine. Then after his legal release date, Louisiana officials kept in him in prison for another 525 days, even though they’d been informed multiple times by Taylor and his lawyers that he was being illegally detained. It turns out that Taylor was just one of several thousand prisoners illegally kept behind bars in Louisiana each year, a practice the state corrections department has been aware of for the last decade. In Taylor’s case, even after a commissioner ruled the state’s rationale for Taylor’s extended detention “manifestly erroneous,” and issued an official order for his release the state refused. It took another six months of legal wrangling for Taylor to finally walk out of prison.

+ People locked up in San Francisco’s rancid county jails have been forced to sue the sheriff in order to gain access to…sunlight.

+ According to a fascinating NPR report on the trade in illegal fentanyl nearly 90% is seized at official border crossings and “nearly all of that is smuggled by people who are legally authorized to cross the border, and more than half by US citizens. Virtually none is seized from migrants seeking asylum.”

+ Sure, blame it on LSD…


+ How much is a teenager’s hand worth in America today? A thousand bucks and change. The owner of a meat business in western Michigan was ordered to pay $1,143 this week after a 17-year-old worker lost his hand in a grinder.

+ Amazon shelled out $14.2 million on anti-union consulting in 2022.

+ If you want data on the state of Covid in the US these days you have to look at data from sewage treatment plants or Walgreens. Both are on the rise. In fact, Walgreen’s Covid index is showing the highest Covid-19 positivity levels since May 2021.

+ Actor Alan Ruck (Conor Roy in Succession) from the picket lines of the SAG strike: Alan Ruck, killing it with this perspective. “It used to be Kings and Queens and Emperors, and now it’s Captains of Industry. And they think the world and everything on it and in it, everything in the air and in the ocean belongs to them…”

+ Over the last three decades, 80 percent of the world’s wealth has been generation by one-percent of the globe’s companies.

+ Bidenomics: The average share of household income spent on rent in America hit 30% in 2022, its highest proportion in at least 25 years, according to Moody’s…

+ Largely as a consequence of interest rate hikes by the Fed, the median monthly payment on a home in the US ballooned from $1,800 to $2,900 in only 2.5 yrs.

+ More and more Americans are living paycheck to credit card purchase. Aggregate credit card balances have risen above $1 trillion for the first time ever, according to a report by the New York Federal Reserve.

+ With a $53 billion endowment, Harvard is the world’s richest university. This week it advised struggling grad students to go on food stamps. Really, who would want to go here?

+ According to a story in Axios, the New York Times put its Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf, on leave for paying her local reporters more than the $150-a-day limit set by the paper. (About a quarter of what the Times pays as a day rate to stateside reporters.) Of course, they didn’t put Judith Miller on leave for writing lies that led to the destruction of the entire country…

+ Last Sunday power prices in Texas surged by more than 800% as broiling heat sent demand toward record levels and strained supplies on the state grid. Electricity prices for the grid rose to more than $2,500 a megawatt-hour up from Saturday’s high of about $275.

+ The owner of  Aurora Pro Services, a home repair company in North Carolina, required his employees to recite the Lord’s Prayer in unison and requested prayers for poorly performing employees.

+ The Zoom Boom is officially over. Zoom is requiring its employees to return to the office.

+ It took Joe Friggin’ Biden, Senator from DuPont, to bring Communism to America! Eat your heart out, Gus Hall!

+ Trump’s lawyers have been fined nearly $1 million, been disbarred and had their license suspended, lost jobs at a high-end law firm and a law school, and been sued by him. One went to prison and two testified against him. Another 60 face bar complaints. Five are unindicted (as yet) co-conspirators in the J6 case.

+ In an ongoing attempt to suppress black voter turnout, the State of Mississippi does not provide an up-to-date, comprehensive list of polling places to the public. The state of Mississippi has moved the locations  of at least 161 polling places but if a voter asks where to cast their ballot, they may be told no one knows or get out of date information.

+ Move over Mayor PeteBot, let’s make Beyoncé Secretary of Transportation: Beyoncé’s tour is covering the costs for the DC Metro to run more trains and keep all 98 stations open for customers to exit amid weather delays.

+ Bribery, extortion, drugs, prostitution? They’re turning the doddering old man into the hippest president ever. Hell, even Corn Pop might end up voting for him before they’re done…

+ One of RFK Jr.’s super PACs has been paying thousands to a xenophobic outlet called Creative Destruction Media that blasts out alarums about the threat of “Black and brown invaders” with a “primitive culture”.  Not much of a surprise there. Last month, RFK Jr stood with the big irrigators in Arizona who are sucking the Colorado River dry and smeared immigrants for stepping on their arugula plantations….

+ Which imperial family’s disintegration has been more complete: the Windsors, Kennedys or Cuomos? According to a story in the NYT this week, Madeline Cuomo, the sister of former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, worked with a pro-Cuomo group called We Decide New York, Inc. to smear and intimidate women who had accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.

+ DeSantis auditioning for the Joker in the next Batman reboot?

+ Is it any wonder he’s campaign is in free fall? DeSantis is now polling less than half of the support from people who pick a candidate not named Trump.

+ DeSantis, who was billed as the political Ken doll for the Moms of Liberty demographic, is now polling at 11% nationally among GOP women.

+ In a desperate effort to reverse his slide into political oblivion, DeSantis used his autocratic powers as Florida governor to remove the elected state attorney in Orlando, a black reformist prosecutor named Monique Worrell (elected with 2/3s of the vote), saying she’d been weak on criminal prosecutions. Worrell responded by saying, “I am your duly elected state attorney and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that.” Meanwhile, DeSantis has taken no action against the DA of Jacksonville, despite the fact the city has the highest murder rate in Florida. Of course, he’s white and a Republican.

+ This latest action has means that DeSantis has nullified the electoral decisions of more than 15.5 percent of the voters in the state, leaving 3.3 million Floridians without their elected choice of prosecutor.

+ Here’s DeSantis defending his plan for death squads on the southern border:

+ “These people in Iraq at the time, they all looked the same.” This is certainly calls out for a deeper probe into DeSantis’ time in Fallujah, as well as Guantanamo.

+ As part of sanctions handed down in an employment case in Texas, Trump-appointed federal judge Brantley Starr has ordered lawyers for Southwest Airlines to undergo “religious-liberty training” from an ultra-right group called Alliance Defending Freedom, which wants to outlaw abortion, trans health care, same-sex marriage and sodomy.

+ A DC court ruled this week that anti-abortion activist Lauren Handy won’t be able to introduce into evidence and display before a jury the remains of five fetuses she stole from a clinic and stored in the refrigerator. Handy is on trial for invading an abortion clinic and chaining herself to a chair in the waiting room.

+ Nurses at Oakland Technical High School have been advising students about abortion bans in states where they will attend college and offering them long-term contraceptives that will last for four years or more.

+ A super-majority of Republicans in the Ohio legislature approved a ballot measure that would’ve made it nearly impossible to pass an abortion rights measure in November. It ended up being crushed by nearly 30%.  To date, all 7 times the question of abortion has been put to a popular vote–even in Red States–the pro-choice position has won, usually by a wide margin.

+ Instead of addressing the rightwing faceplant in the Ohio referendum, Sean Hannity is trying to blame the uptick in COVID (glad he noticed) on … Barbie!

+ Abortion rights are proving more popular than Trump, even in Red States…

Kansas 2020 election result: 42% Biden 56 Trump (-14)
Kansas 2022 abortion referendum: 59% no (lib side) 41 yes (+18)
Net Difference: 32

Ohio 2020 election result: 45% Biden 53 Trump (-8)
Ohio 2023 amendment referendum: ~60% no (lib side) – 40% yes (+20)
Net difference: 28

+ But they won’t be deterred. In Missouri, the Republican Party is suing to keep a proposed abortion legalization measure off the ballot by claiming it doesn’t estimate the potential state revenue lost from aborted fetuses which would otherwise go on to become future taxpayers.

+ The Wall Street Journal editorial board lashed out at the GOP for not being prepared for the backlash to Dobbs. Can you blame them? After all, isn’t that why Alito leaked his draft opinion?

+  Italian Marxist theorist Mario Tronti, who died this week: “The critique of political economy will never completely free itself of political economy. When you take up a position inside Capital, you’re sucked in. The only serious attempt to get out of this situation was to break the cage itself.”

+ I can’t wait to see how they Pragerize Malcolm and Huey Newton…

+Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

+ Wait until those Florida kids, as they clean up the downed trees and mangled cars from the latest hurricane, get a look at PragerU’s climate videos, which argue that global heat records are merely the result of natural temperature cycles, portray climate activists as being like Nazis, and suggest that wind and solar power are dangerous and generate more pollution than oil and coal.

+ Last week Vivek Ramaswamy referred to Juneteenth as a “useless holiday,” which he vowed to cancel if elected. The fervency of Ramaswamy’s campaign to claim the US has cleansed itself of systemic racism is proof of its persistence. Note the emphasis on black basketball players in his lament in a New Yorker interview about how white men are being marginalized in elite schools like Harvard…

+ Try as he might, poor Vivek still hasn’t succeeded in selling himself to those whose support he most craves…

+ The editor of Christianity Today is warning that evangelical Christians are moving so far to the right that many pastors are preaching sermons that depict Jesus’s teachings as “too weak.” There’s not much new here. Jesus was considered wimpish by the early “fathers” of his own Church. That’s why Paul was brought on board to toughen up the message of the Gospels, Constantine to equate the cross with a sword, and Athanasius and Eusebius to purge the canon of any “woke” Gnostic shit….

+ Speaking of rewriting the Bible…

+ Recall that Flynn once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency and may well run the CIA, if Trump returns to the White House. Good times…

+ A San Diego teenager, who is accused of killing a homeless woman, sent a text to his friends saying, “I’m going hobo hunting with a pellet gun.”

+ Speaking of electioneering, on Brazil’s election day in 2022, Jair Bolsonaro’s Federal Highway Police set up 549 roadblocks to slow down people coming from the country to vote in towns where Lula was leading in the polls. The operation was overseen by Sidney Vasques, national director of the highway police at the time. Vasques was just arrested on charges of election tampering.


+ Firestorms sweeping Maui, Lāhainā in ashes, at least 55 people burned to death (and 1000 still missing).  Hawai’i 2023.

+ Here’s a link to the Maui Food Bank. Folks are going to be struggling there for some time…

+ Kaniela Ing: “Lāhainā was once wetland. Boats circled around Waikoloa Church. It’s only became dry and fire-prone because of illegal water diversions and land theft by sugar barons in the 1800s. Today, the same families reap insane profits off continued control of our irrigation, land regulators, and politicians. As we rebuild, we must restore the Green New Deal promise of public land and water use.”

+ For 35 straight days this summer, every day the average temperature on the planet was hotter than every day on record in any previous year.

+ For the first time on record, Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, has a 30-day running average temperature over 50F. Prior to this year, the highest 30-day average temp was 48.4F.

+ The heat index hit 158F at a Qeshm international airport in Dayrestan, Iran on Tuesday…

+ Steve Scalise: “By the way, we had hot summers 150 years ago, when we didn’t have the combustion engine. But they don’t want to talk honestly about science.” It was 103F in Paraguay last week in mid-winter.

+ Top 5 House recipients of oil & gas money:

1. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)$616,563
2. August Pfluger (R-Texas) $550,221
3. Wesley Hunt (R-Texas) $415,445
4. Steve Scalise (R-La.) $368,291
5. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) $354,69

+ In Hawai’i, people are “taking shelter” in the ocean from the ravages of climate change. In Florida, people are removing coral from the super-heated ocean to protect them from the ravages of climate change…

+ As the UAE prepares to host the COP28 climate summit, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has planned for $150 billion in capital expenditure over the next five years towards expanding its oil and gas production, while earmarking only $15 billion for low-carbon and renewable spending over a longer period.

+ Searching for signs of hope? Well, don’t look here: global oil demand is at record highs, with consumption hitting 103 million barrels a day for first time…

+ Tim Scott on Fox and Friends this morning: “This is ridiculous to talk about climate emergency when we have a border emergency right now.” Stay with me Tim, but what if one ’emergency’ is a consequence of the other?

+ The largest property insurer left in Florida is capable of paying out $16 billion in claims. Hurricane Ian alone inflicted $100 billion in damages.

+ Beef emits 31 times more CO₂ per calorie of food than tofu does.

+ A study published in Nature in 2022 found that between 2013 and 2021 there were an average of 60 pyrocumulonimbus (fire breathing) clouds recorded around the world by satellites each year. This year have already been 148 of the storms worldwide with 129 of them in Canada.

+ The EPA has approved a chemical additive to boat fuel made by Chevron at its Pascagoula, Mississippi refinery from plastic which has been shown to cause cancer in nearly everyone who comes in contact with it. The substance has lifetime cancer risk more than a million times higher than what the agency usually finds “acceptable.”

+ Last year, the average weight of a new vehicle sold in the US  was 4,329 pounds, over half a ton more than in 1980 and an increase of 200 pounds just since the beginning of the pandemic. And they’re about to get even heavier, in part because of the transition to EVs!

+ In the first six months of 2023, some 12 reintroduced Mexican grey wolves have been found dead.  While most of these deaths still under investigation, the most likely culprits are local ranchers, irate at the reintroduction of wolves to public lands in the Southwest.

+ Up in Alaska, at least 22 Steller’s Sea Lions, an endangered species, have been found dead in the Copper River Delta, most of them shot.

+ Wondering where the lions (were) are?

+ The chip war, like any other war, on China seems destined to backfire, in part because China possesses near sole access to materials that you can’t make but you need to manufacture the products needed to survive on a warming planet. As the FT notes: “China is responsible for the production of 90% of the world’s rare earth elements, 80% of all the stages of making solar panels and 60% of wind turbines and electric-car batteries. In some materials used in batteries, market share is close to 100%.”

+ China is now the world’s leading car exporter, outpacing Japan for the first six months of 2023 by shipping more than 2.3 million vehicles, an increase of 76.9 percent from a year ago. Most of the electric vehicles were sold to Europe, while the Internal Combustion cars went to Russia.

+ I’m not sure that people have picked up on just how pronounced RFK, Jr’s Sinophobia has become. The renegade Kennedy has gone far beyond his allegations about COVID being a Chinese bioweapon aimed at American blacks and Caucasians to now include a Beijing plot to consolidate agricultural production in the US, with the goal of force-feeding Americans unhealthy foods that will make them obese and diabetic. It features a cameo by Bill Gates, of course.

+ It seems to have escaped the attention of the former environmental lawyer that consolidation of the agriculture industry began with the deregulation binge instigated by his Uncle Teddy in the late 1970s to the benefit of all-American corporations like Cargill (MN), ADM (Chicago), Simplot (Idaho), CHS (Minn.) Tyson Foods (Ark) and Smithfield (VA).

+ Junior has repeatedly claimed he’s never made a racist comment in his life. His diary suggests otherwise. In it he disparages Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, writing that they “give me the creeps.” Of Jackson he writes, “I feel dirty around him.” He calls Sharpton “a buffoon…[who] has done more damage to the black cause than George Wallace.”


+ I was stunned by Robbie Robertson’s death. He always seemed younger than he was. I watched his recent documentary (Once Were Brothers) a few weeks  back and didn’t pick up on how sick he must’ve been at the time. The film didn’t strike me as a farewell, but a summary of the varied chapters of his career so far. I interviewed Robertson by phone a couple of years ago for a book I’ve been working on about John Trudell. His voice sounded a little rougher than usual, but his mind was sharp and his wit still caustic. Robertson openly credited Trudell as a major inspiration for his eponymous 1987 album. Beneath the artifice of the production, you can hear the influence in the spoken word delivery and Native American themes–even if the lyrics seem somewhat strained next to John’s and the vocals themselves lack Trudell’s urgency. From the rear-view mirror that record–which came out the year after AKA Graffiti Man–seems almost cinematic and perhaps signaled Robertson’s own attraction to the financial, if not artistic, possibilities of Hollywood…

Robertson was there to hold Dylan’s hand as he “went electric.” But as the music drove forward toward punk in the 70s, Robertson seemed to retreat deeper and deeper into the past. After all, it was this Canadian with indigenous roots who pretty much gave birth, for better or worse, to the genre of music now marketed as Americana. Go listen to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Robbie may still be plugged into his Marshall amp, but the song unfurls as an anthem for the Lost Cause crowd. It’s a wonder it became so popular with the radical rockers and cultural leftists who worshiped at the feet of Dylan. I still cherish the immediacy and exuberance of “The Basement Tapes” and the haunting rusticity of “Music from Big Pink,” but The Band, propelled by Robertson’s slashing guitar attack, never sounded hipper or more daring than in those first live gigs with Dylan, dragging him along with them into the Now, for a few moments at least, until withdrawing back, as so many of the Sixties Generation did, into an idyllic sanctuary of the past…

+ Sorry pastor, it wasn’t Black Sabbath or Tales From the Crypt, but Milton’s “Paradise Lost” that seduced me into the ranks of Team Satan….

+ Brendan Behan: “A writer’s first duty is to let down his country.”

+ Leonard Cohen: “I’ve met some people; they’re not considered sane. They say they’re beaming the songs to me. One man actually asked for some of the royalties because he’d been beaming songs to me. I considered the possibility because I don’t really know where the songs come from.”

+ During an interview with the Paris Review in August 2007 Umberto Eco talked about his TV-watching habit, which included regular viewings of Starsky and Hutch, CSI, Miami Vice, and ER: “I suspect that there is no serious scholar who doesn’t like to watch television. I’m just the only one who confesses.” His favorite show? Columbo.

+ From Richard Burton’s diary: “At the Rothschilds’, La Baronne Thierry de Zuylen asked me which writer I considered the greatest of the 20th century. I said, ‘James Joyce.’ She said, ‘You really are the most perverse man, because when I last talked to you of James Joyce you said he was a phony and that Finnegans Wake was a wake only for James Joyce.’ I said, ‘Try me again and I’ll attack him with liberal quotations.’ She is very beautiful and is married to a most engaging man, splendidly-broken nose. They are some connection to the Rothschilds I think. Dutch.”

+ Ben Ratliff: This is really just a musical question. Are you a religious man?

Sonny Sharrock: Yeah, in that I think Coltrane is God. And so is Miles, and Bird. No, I’m not religious at all; I despise most organized religion; I think religion is dangerous and harmful to people.

+ In the Heat of the Night was the first major Hollywood film to be shot with real attention on how to feature the skin tones of black actors. Cinematographer (and longtime CounterPuncher) Haskell Wexler recognized that standard studio lighting resulted in too much glare on black and Hispanic actors and toned down the lighting to get a more realistic image of Sydney Poitier’s face. The film was mostly shot north of the Mason-Dixon line in Sparta, Illinois at the insistence of Poitier, after he and Harry Belafonte had nearly been killed by the KKK during a recent trip to Mississippi.  During a brief location shoot in Tennessee, where they filmed exterior scenes at a cotton plantation, the actors and crew received deaths and Poitier slept with a gun beneath his pillow.

+ Louis B. Mayer on the real function of the Academy Awards: “I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them. If I got them cups and awards, they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.”

+ I don’t share Pauline Kael’s taste in films very much, but this quip on the interminable Renaldo & Clara (1978) is pretty funny and on the mark: “Bob Dylan wants to be buried in an unmarked grave. Of course. That’s why he’s made a four-hour movie about himself and his pilgrimage.”

+ Jaco Pastorius, 1978: “I hadn’t heard any of Weather Report’s music before I joined the group. My daughter’s almost 8, and from when she was born, I’ve had no time to listen. So I don’t what’s going on. I knew Miles Davis & Coltrane & James Brown & the Beatles.”

+ Q: What about Joe Strummer and his contribution to music?

Sinead O’Connor: Bono said that if it hadn’t been for him, U2 would never have existed. It’s the only thing I have a hard time forgiving Joe for.

After Sinead O’Connor was pelted with boos and catcalls at a concert celebrating Bob Dylan, Jim Page wrote this song about the disgraceful spectacle…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Kick Out the Jams: Jibes, Barbs, Tributes, and Rallying Cries from 35 Years of Music Writing
Dave Marsh
(Simon & Schuster)

Heretical Aesthetics: Pasolini on Painting
Pier Paulo Pasolini

The World of Sugar: How the Sweet Stuff Transformed Our Politics, Health and Environment Over 2,000 Years
Ulbe Bosma

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

The Complete Atlantic Singles: 1972-1979
The Spinners
(Real Gone Music)

New Future City Radio
Damon Locks & Rob Mazurek
(International Anthem)

Love Hallucination
Jessy Lanza

I Have an Irreverence for Anything Connected with Society

“I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” (Brendan Behan)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3