Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boxing, Ballet, and Booze

By Victoria Looseleaf

Okay, I’m a ballet junkie! And Miami City Ballet gave me a great fix the other night. It was also heartbreaking for me to meet the “Cuban Nijinsky,” Rolando Sarabia and his brother, Daniel, at the cocktail party after MCB’s awesome performance. The brothers defected from Cuba and the tiny island’s phenomenal ballet troupe, Nacional Ballet de Cuba, several years ago, and are not allowed back in the country under the current regime. As I’m going to Havana to cover the 21st International Ballet Festival and 60-year anniversary of BNC – as well a chill out with muchos mojitos - I promised them I would visit their father, and tell him they are well and thriving in their new life in the States.

On a cheerier note, check out what Miami City Ballet’s founder and artistic director, the fabulous Edward Villella, has to say about boxing, ballet and choreographer extraordinaire Twyla Tharp in a series of interviews I did for KUSC-FM radio. Included are two Spotlight on the Arts (Boxing and Ballet and An Unlikely Collaboration), as well as my Arts Alive feature, a longer portrait of Villella, one of ballet’s true superstars under George Balanchine at New York City Ballet. So lace up your toe shoes, tug up your tights and enjoy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

We Have a Winner

By Robert Rosen

It’s hard to believe that it’s been only six weeks since we ran “Hypocrisy Now: 16 Questions for Every Voter Who’s Been Paying Attention,” and already the quiz seems veiled in a mist of nostalgia from that quaint time when one could still believe that nude pix of Sarah Palin could swing an erection.

Excuse me, I mean election.

Now, with that distinct whiff of 1932 in the air, I think it’s safe to conclude that if Jesus Christ himself hand-delivered to Larry Flynt a certified authentic 1980 loop of an underage Palin doing interracial DP with John Holmes and Johnny Keyes, of Behind the Green Door fame, America, at best, might pause for a moment to collectively raise a quizzical eyebrow. Then everybody would collectively howl: “But what about my fucking 401(k)Y Jelly—the preferred lubricant of Wall Street titans?”

Excuse me, I mean fucking 401(k)—the retirement scam Wall Street titans foisted on American workers.

The land of the free (market) has indeed come crashing back to reality under the inimitable guidance of The Great Uniter who, unable to escape the White House without bringing down the entire Global Fucking Economy (GFE), has at last succeeded in uniting the country, the Republican Fucking Party (RFP), and the world—against him.

Excuse me, I mean, Heck of a job, Bushie.

Yet, in this moment of profound darkness we can still thank our Christian Lord for small favors: The quiz has produced a winner—Richard Reynolds, a seditious malcontent who, from his lonely outpost in suburban Seattle, has been paying close attention, and overcame the competition with a combination of acid-tinged words and a delightful drawing of Our Ms. Palin as “Pro-Life Alaska Barbie.”

For his efforts above and beyond the call of duty, we will send Richard his prize: an autographed copy of Mary Lyn Maiscott’s debut CD, Blue Lights. And he’ll have it well before the holiday season, giving him plenty of time to groove on the title song, now recognized in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri (as well as in certain New York City neighborhoods) as an instant Christmas classic.

So, without further ado, we at The Looseleaf Report proudly bring you Richard Reynolds’s answers, and a few editor’s notes commenting on the seismic changes that have taken place since they were submitted BC (Before the Crash).

1. Is there any chance that this election won’t be ugly, close, and marred by legal challenges?

No. It will probably end up in the GOP-controlled Supreme Court...again. I'll let you guess who they give it to.

2. How can anybody have any faith in the wisdom of an American public that twice elected George Bush, when even a corpse would have done less damage and should have beaten Dubya in a landslide?

Television is a horrible, debilitating drug. Far worse than heroin or crack...and far more pervasive.

3. Will Bush, like Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, be hounded like a war criminal for the rest of his unnatural life?

No, he’s going to retire to a compound in South America and do lines off the bellies of rent boys and drink himself to death.

4. Can the broadcast media raise the level of their political discourse from sub-moronic to moronic?

Barely, and then with only the greatest effort.

5. Does Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! know how often she disintegrates into self-parody, or that her ace correspondent, the ever-indignant Jeremy Scahill, acts like a graduate of the Samantha Bee School of Journalism?

Fame, like television, is a debilitating drug.

6. Has John McCain ever heard the Phil Ochs classic “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” which The Jefferson Starship recently covered (with our friend Cathy Richardson singing lead)?

I think he just listens to Barry Sadler and the sound of the little man who lives in his head.

7. Does the lyric “It’s always the old who lead us to the war” (see above) remind McCain of anybody?


8. What will it take for people to understand that McCain’s a corrupt warmonger whose bad judgment dates back 25 years, to his first term in Congress, when he tried to influence bank regulators on behalf of his biggest campaign contributor, convicted racketeer Charles Keating, after the failure of Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan cost taxpayers $3.4 billion?

An invasion and occupation by Canada and UN peacekeepers?

Editor’s note: You’ve got to give the Obama campaign credit: They had the Keating Five video ready, waiting to unleash it at the right moment, like a secret weapon.

9. Why didn’t McCain apply to Keating—a Nixon ally, founder of Citizens for Decency, and producer of the anti-porn film Perversion for Profit—the most reliable litmus test for integrity? That is: The biggest crooks cry “Ban pornography!” the loudest.

He’s too busy looking at Sarah Palin’s ass.

Editor’s note: Good answer, but he didn’t know Palin at the time.

10. Why does the media constantly bring up Obama’s mentor and fund-raiser, convicted felon Tony Rezko, but virtually never mention Keating?

The board of directors are the Dungeon Masters...and they all own the GOP.

11. What’s worse: Helping a man buy a house or defrauding taxpayers of $3.4 billion?

Depends on if the man who’s buying the house is your “good ol’ boy” from the country club or some poor schmuck who has the colossal bad taste to be born in an inferior tax bracket.

12. Why can’t the media admit that Barack Obama hasn’t lived long enough to learn to be as corrupt as John McCain?

That would require homework and—gasp!—an opinion.

13. What, exactly, is the problem with a presidential candidate who speaks good English and inspires rather than demoralizes every time he opens his mouth?

S&M...America is run on S&M.

14. When Sarah Palin’s nudie pix finally surface—nobody becomes a beauty queen without flashing her tits for at least one photographer—will they help or hurt the Republican ticket?

I SWEAR I saw her in some lesbian “teacher porn.” No kidding. According to the Universal Law of Unequal Political Media Coverage, it will help Palin if her tits are bared. O’Reilly will state, “Who hasn’t shown their tits? I have here a picture of a SHIRTLESS Joe Biden, aged 17 at Brighton Beach. SO, who’s the slut NOW?”

Editor’s Note: See intro.

15. Wait a minute. Wasn’t it the Republican Party that excoriated the fictional Murphy Brown for getting knocked up?

It’s okay when a “real” person does it. (“Real” = GOP)

16. Why hasn’t the Democratic attack machine branded the Republican candidate “Malignant McCain” (as opposed to “Benign Barack”)?

They have an attack machine?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rachel Getting Harried

Left to Right: Anne Hathaway as Kym, Debra Winger as Abby, Bill Irwin as Paul, and Rosemarie DeWitt as Rachel. Photo by Declan Quinn © 2007 Sniscak Productions, INC. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Rachel Getting Married
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Screenplay by Jenny Lumet
Starring Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Debra Winger
113 minutes

By Mary Lyn Maiscott

Although he overdoes the vérité (Another wedding speech? I kept thinking) and jerky camera shots, Jonathan Demme has created a small marvel with Rachel Getting Married. Succeeding where Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding did not—the movies share a rambling-house setting and affectionate but resentful sisters, one of whom has a barbed presence that throws off the cozy proceedings—Rachel centers on an extended family with a terrible past event that leaks into their every encounter. From a script by Jenny Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet, it profits greatly from actors such as Bill Irwin, whose gamin quality occasionally sneaks out in his performance as the worried dad, the much-missed Debra Winger as the aloof mom, Rosemarie DeWitt as the bride swinging wildly between ecstasy and bitterness, and Anne Hathaway—far from her princess days—as Rachel’s sister, Kym, a drug addict on leave from rehab.

Hathaway, with her huge deer eyes and remarkable pillowy lips (when I got bored during The Devil Wears Prada, I would simply stare at them as I might a painting), gives herself over to the complex emotions of her character, who is self-absorbed to the point of being obnoxious yet sincere in her efforts to shake her addiction and deal with her guilt. She goes to 12-step meetings, hooks up with a fellow addict/wedding guest, smokes incessantly, pisses off her sister’s best friend, insists on being the maid of honor, wrecks her dad’s car, and seems to always feel the pull of her mother, though she is the furthest star in Kym’s universe.

Kym’s struggle takes place amid the nearly constant music of the wedding band members (everyone seems to be staying at the house and many characters appear to be in the music business)—when Kym irritatedly says of a violinist, Does he have to play all the time?, she echoed my own thoughts—and the color and whimsy of other preparations; as Rachel and their dad attach guest names to tiny ceramic animals, Kym learns that she is not at the family table. This is the kind of detail that is true vérité (sorry for the redundancy)—just when your sympathy is about to go with the beleaguered Rachel, who had to sit through a scarily disjointed all-about-me speech from Kym at her rehearsal dinner, she reveals her own capacity for cruelty.

Which is to say there are no heroes or villains in this film. Or resolutions. There is just, in high definition, the fullness of life, which includes both glittery Brazilian dancers and bruised black eyes.