Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sundance, Park City Part II

Advice from long-time Festival goers:

Don’t get in the lottery for a pass: you can’t control what type of pass you get so you can’t be sure what movies you will see

You don’t need to buy individual tickets for movies: Do the Waitlist: which means get to a theater venue where they will be showing the movie you want to see 2 hours early and pick up a pass with a number. One half hour before the movie, get in a line according to the number on your pass. It is rare that you won’t get the chance to buy a ticket and see the movie.

Top movies: Gun Hill Road: a group of Latinas cried they were so moved. On The Ice: seeing Barrow, Alaska, at the closest point to the Arctic Circle. The Flaw, a systemic look at the economic meltdown. Shut Up Little Man, a comedy with heart. Catechism Cataclysm, one friend said they nearly pissed in their pants they laughed so hard. Rebirth, a touching look at 9/11. Another Earth, raves about honesty. Black Power Mix Tapes, a unique view of this era.

Poorer Showings: Lord Byron,  put a person to sleep; I Melt With You, the 15 people I talked with said hated when referring to this movie.

Park City Museum was a great pleasure. History of mining is there with a great slice of the mountain in front of you in the first room. In the second room you stand on a lift and step into a tram (subway car) that they used to transport the first sets of skiers to the top of the mountain in the mid-1960s.

The building is part old City Hall, part police and fire station as well as the old library. Remnants of these buildings are visible today. Most exciting is stepping into the old jail. You can walk into an old cell; you can look at a video book and hear the stories of five criminals that used to be housed in the space.

Discovering the history of the ski industry of Park City was fabulous. First, a mining company tried the endeavour and failed because they did not know how to appeal to the customer base. Others from Aspen took over but the industry solidified in the 1990s but still places like The Canyons went bankrupt two years ago.

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Salt Lake City In One Day

Arrived at 10 am and walked into the tourism office, the capital building during the late 1800s. Known now as the Council Building, it sits directly across from the new Capitol at the top of the main hill in the city.

The young guy behind the counter advised to see all but Saltair, the old amusement park built on the edge of Salt Lake.We dashed up the hundred steps to the capitol. The Renaissance building from 1915 is made of gorgeous marble. The doors are so heavy they are a workout to open. The rotunda has murals of Brigham oung, General John Fremont, and other important figures in Utah history.

The University of Utah was plugging its ten years of research projects, so all these cute young men and women, dressed snappily, stood  beside easels holding descriptions of their research projects. We followed a tour up to the old Supreme Court chambers, painted in very bold colors.

Next, we walked down State Street past a gorgeous  bed and breakfast called Inn On The Hill.

The houses on the other side of the street were modest, but had cool elements, like sharing a staircase.

We made it to Temple Square and walked into the South Visitors Building. My partner used the computer to find his ancestors but mine did not show up. We saw a model of the famed cathedral and the history of its construction from Young’s vision, through the quarry operation to bring over the stone.

We saw the old Assembly Hall, which is a fine modest building that has a gentle slope to enable all to see the nave. White wood pews filled the eyes on both levels of the building. We scooted over to hear the organist perform the noon time show at the Tabernacle. The number of choir seats is astounding, as amazing to me as the building’s acoustics. We heard two John Philip Sousa marches and two other pieces before leaving for the nearby Arts Center.

The Arts center had pieces from Sundance. James Franco’s work from Three’s Company headlined other video and 3d installement pieces.

We ate a wonderful lunch at Vicsovio’s onMain Street and scooted over to the Moshe Safdies public library. A glorious building that harks to both the architect’s Salem Massachusetts Museum and the new Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms building in Washington, DC.

We met up with a grad student at Uof U down at his place near Rt 80. We had a blast and found out that there are many gays on the Salt Lake City police department’s staff.

Next we drove across to the west side of town to see the Rio Grande Train Depot. Here the archives, historic preservation and related works share office space. There is much memorabilia in the display cases, ranging from old tickets to uniforms. The Rio Grande Caffe is a blast from the past–luncheonette and diner.

Went up the street to the Union Pacfic Railroad Depot, which is a large unoccupied space available for rent. Next was Gateway Plaza. Reportedly developed by the LDS Church, it is an intriguing attempt to bring commercial shops, nightclubs and restaurants to this long neglected area. I enjoyed seeing the Utah Jazz’ arena across the street.

We ended our trip on the east side of town. First we looked at the historical Trolley Station, which has restaurants and a Whole Foods. We continued driving to Sugarhouse part of the city, 9th and 9th. New Age and cafes mix with one old movie theater in a neighborhood not to miss. We left at 7pm.

Sundance, Park City, Movies

First year at Sundance. Not industry so don’t have to think money, distribution, rights. But my disappointment is that there are no Hollywood sex antics going on that I can find, like I describe in my book, Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream.

Saw actor James Cromwell, lead in Babe, character actor in The People Versus Larry Flint.

Pop Star Sasha donned in leather interviewing celebrities. Forrest Whitacker dining inside a restaurant.

Wanted to see James Franco and others but missed Oprah by a few.

Saw Gun Hill Road starring Esai Morales, which was excellent movie about Latinos in the Bronx.

The documentary We Were Here is a painful depiction of the era of AIDS in San Francisco.

Tuesday was foreign film day. Attenborough, a Greek movie, about a young woman and her coping with her dying Dad and lack of sexual experience, was moody and slow. A Few Days of Respite, a French film about Iranians, was beautiful, moody, and left much unexplained. This led to many questions to the director about explaining things.

I saw Park City’s history. There is a so-called historic district that has a few of the small miners homes left. The Washington School Inn, is a converted school house from the late nineteenth century. The Blue Church Lodge is near the old blue church meeting room. There are Later Day Saints meeting halls, and a church that holds all the combined other Protestant churches in the area.

Today I saw the movie I Melt With You staring Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane. Applause at the credits were polite.

Can the US Economy Be Fixed and When?

Fortune magazine ran a great article on the economic situation. The economy will get better only slowly.

The main reasons are:

1 Homeowners have less equity and borrowing power. 2 Shareholders have smaller retirement accounts and less confidence. 3 There are fewer jobs. 4 Meanwhile, although industrial companies’ cash holdings are at record levels, they’re not rushing out to add U.S. workers.

The other big issue: 8 million jobs lost! Only a million “new” jobs created over the last three years.

If the economy needs consumer spending, where is the money for consumers to use supposed to come from?

Gervais at the Golden Globes

I don’t watch The Office. Nor am I a big fan of awards shows but I thought Ricky Gervais was very funny at the Golden Globes.

Clearly, he has an irreverent attitude toward Hollywood. He is not fawning and he is not particularly respectful. The Washington Post’s Hank Steuver complained that Gervais told lame jokes. His Scientology joke about the sexual orientation of two actors was spot on as the Brits would say, particularly since people I know have first hand experience with one of those actors. I and others are over these actors hiding their behaviors!!!

Another informal reviewer like myself agrees.

The article says Robert Downey Jr. summed up the attitude so well. Give me a break. Downey’s introduction of the five nominees in the category of best actress by saying that they would have given better performances if they slept with him was Creepy. Oh, the women laughed–except for the much younger Emma Stone, who probably felt the same creepiness that this smarmy man indulged in the old-time male heterosexual pig behavior of viewing her as his sexual play toy that I did.

The Post reviewer agrees Downey’s view of Hollywood. Please let us go on and on about our indulgences. If you dare make biting remarks about us or call us on our indulgences then we’ll snarl at you.

Bruce Willis effectively responded to a funny Gervais. Gervais referred to the actor as Ashton Kutcher’s Dad. Humorous given the Demi Moore tie in. Willis said,”Sometimes Hollywood does provide you with outrageous fortune.”

My respect for Willis shot up immensely. He acknowledged the humor and showed that he knows the world in which he works. In addition, he slyly commented on another part of that world, having to attend award ceremonies and accept jokes about one self!

The Post also included a Hank Steuver review of a teenage television show that is airing on MTV. Whether I agree with the review or not, I think having two articles by the same person in the same section of the newspaper is both too much and lazy on the part of the newspaper and its editorial staff.  This Washington metropolitan area must have many other individuals qualified to write about entertainment that could have written one of these articles, no? Particularly since the review is a teen show and the reviewer admits that his teen years came in the era of the late John Hughes.

NFL Shockers: Patriots Are Done!!!!

No more number 1 teams in the NFL Playoffs.

Rex Ryan backs up his talk.

NY/NJ Jets win their second biggest game in their history.

I am happy to see Tom Brady no more.

No more Payton Manning and now no more Tom Brady.

The Patriots needed Spygate to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are cheaters!

Jason Whitlock bring this to the table:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

The Jets won the culture war.

After a week’s worth of heated trash talk that exposed the disdain between the Jets and the Patriots, Rex Ryan’s pack of alleged bad boys humbled Bill Belichick’s pack of alleged choirboys 28-21.

 

NFL Weekly Review

NFL WEEKLY REVIEW PAGE

Get caught up on all the action from the divisional-round games.

Not since 1988’s “Catholics vs. Convicts” clash at Notre Dame Stadium has football staged the kind of cultural confrontation we witnessed Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Jets-Pats was more than a typical NFL divisional playoff contest. To some degree, it was a battle for the heart and soul of the league.

“It’s all about a system with (the Patriots),” a Jets executive told me in the postgame locker room. “With us, it’s all about the players.”

Rex Ryan’s New York Jets are America’s No. 1 reality TV show. They’re loud, talented, in your face and occasionally wildly irresponsible (Sex Ryan’s foot-fetish videos, Antonio Cromartie’s baby-mama fetish, etc.). In the buttoned-up, Roger Goodell-disciplined NFL, the Jets come off like the NBA’s Miami Heat.

If you had to compare Bill Belichick’s Patriots to a basketball team, only the WASPy, boys-next-door Duke Blue Devils fit the description.

 

In winning three Super Bowls early in the new millennium and consistently fielding outstanding regular-season squads, Belichick perfected the art of choosing overall team character, locker-room chemistry and adherence to rules of media secrecy over loading up on individual talent.

In places such as Kansas City and Atlanta — where former Belichick-trained executives have power — the “Patriots Way” has a pronounced influence. In other cities, the Belichick influence is more subtle.

The Patriots Way is rejected in New York by Rex Ryan. The Jets say what they want, do what they want and they’re completely unafraid to call bull(crap) on Belichick and the Patriots.

To the Jets, the Patriots Way is Spygate and hypocrisy. The Patriots cheat and they’re phony. They’re Eddie Haskell. The locker room America bought as filled with All-American, high-character good guys is really filled with Wes Welkers, the New England receiver who made the game’s most critical error days before kickoff when he littered a pregame interview with foot jokes about Rex Ryan and his wife.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” LaDainian Tomlinson told me. “She’s off limits. You don’t talk about that man’s wife. (Welker) better be glad he didn’t say anything about my wife.

“This is how I feel: When it happens to them, it’s classless. When they do it, it’s a different story.”

Welker, who was benched by Belichick for New England’s first series, crossed a line. It’s one thing for the media and fans to joke about Ryan’s personal life. The players and coaches are peers. They shouldn’t participate in anything that embarrasses one of their peer’s family members.

 

CONTACT JASON WHITLOCK

If you have a question or comment for Jason, submit it below and he may just respond.

Welker handed the Jets the emotional advantage.

“I felt that it motivated a lot of guys,” said Mark Brunell, New York’s veteran backup quarterback. “It was inappropriate.”

New York fullback Tony Richardson, another longtime veteran, added, “That was personal. Guys will take shots at other guys. But that was personal. There was no reason to bring his family into it. Rex has a son in 10th grade.”

The lone stupidity challenge to Welker’s blunder was Belichick’s strategic blunder late in the second quarter.

Trailing 7-3 with 74 seconds left in the half and facing fourth and 4 at the New England 38, Belichick called for a fake punt. Defensive back Patrick Chung dropped the direct snap and the Jets tackled him for a 1-yard loss.

The Jets capitalized, scoring a quick TD to take a commanding 11-point lead.

The fake was ignorant. There was no reason to force anything at that point. The Pats were getting the second-half kickoff. New England panicked. The alleged “smartest” team in football played a dumb football game.

They fell for Rex’s and Cromartie’s trash-talk bait, and when New York’s superior defensive personnel and flawless game plan stopped Tom Brady and Co. from gliding up and down the field, the Patriots turned amateur with their strategy.

Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Brady chewed up nearly eight minutes of clock with a 14-play, 48-yard drive that featured seven running plays and the Pats sauntering in and out of the huddle as though there would be a fifth quarter.

CBS cameras appeared to catch Belichick complaining about his team’s offensive play-calling.

It’s now fair to question everything about the Patriots.

They haven’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate. Judging by Jay Glazer’s FOX Sports pregame story, Belichick and the Patriots were building special-teams, sideline-tripping walls long before the Jets.

Yeah, the Jets won the culture war.

US Economy: consequence of U.S. corporate behavior

Watch Fox or MSNBC. Doesn’t matter, you hear the grim numbers. High unemployment, eight million jobs lost. Country’s in debt to China.

What’s different is the focus and the answers. On Fox it’s tea partiers and on MSNBC it’s the poor workers, money for unemployment and the need to support the middle class in the US.

We always hear about economic cycles. Supposedly they are cyclical and structural. What I like about the editorial that follows is a discussion of an institutional cycle: enjoy

 

Corporate America, paving a downward economic slide

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The city on a hill and the last, best hope of mankind has entered a new period in its history. We are now America, the downwardly mobile.

The problem isn’t due to the recession. Would that it were. The decade just concluded is the first in which Americans, on average, have seen their incomes decline. Median household income increased by about $4,000 per decade in the 1980s and ’90s: from $42,429 in 1980 to $46,049 in 1990 to $50,557 in 2000 (in 2007 dollars). In 2009, the most recent year for which we have figures, it had declined to $49,777 – but 2009, of course, was a year of deep recession. If we go back to the peak year of the last decade, 2007, we find that median household income was just $50,233- roughly $300 less than it had been in 2000.

Until the housing and financial bubbles burst, of course, we enjoyed the illusion of prosperity through the days of wine and credit. Now we stand on unfamiliar terrain in which almost all the signs of long-term economic health point downward. Our private sector isn’t creating jobs at a rate commensurate with our increasing population, much less at a level to significantly reduce unemployment. The share of our civilian population employed has dropped to 58.2 percent – the lowest level since the early ’80s, when far fewer women had entered the workforce.

The social pathologies long associated with the inner-city poor – single-parent households, births out of wedlock, drug and alcohol abuse – now stalk the white working class in rural and post-industrial regions far removed from big cities. The middle is falling. Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, has noted that as wages and employment levels have fallen for the Americans who have graduated high school but not college, their level of out-of-wedlock births (44 percent) has approached that of Americans who haven’t completed high school (54 percent). Americans with college diplomas or more, by contrast, have a rate of just 6 percent.

The great sociologist William Julius Wilson has long argued that the key to the unraveling of the lives of the African American poor was the decline in the number of “marriageable males” as work disappeared from the inner city. Much the same could now be said of working-class whites in neighborhoods that may not look like the ghettos of Cleveland or Detroit but in which productive economic activity is increasingly hard to find.

This grim new reality has yet to inform our debate over how to come back from this mega-recession. Those who believe our downturn is cyclical argue that job-creating public spending can restore us to prosperity, while those who believe it’s structural – that we have too many carpenters, say, and not enough nurses – believe that we should leave things be while American workers acquire new skills and enter different lines of work. But there’s a third way to look at the recession: that it’s institutional, that it’s the consequence of the decisions by leading banks and corporations to stop investing in the job-creating enterprises that were the key to broadly shared prosperity.

Our multinational companies still invest, of course – just not at home. A study by the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Council Foundation found that the share of the profits of U.S.-based multinationals that came from their foreign affiliates had increased from 17 percent in 1977 and 27 percent in 1994 to 48.6 percent in 2006. As the companies’ revenue from abroad has increased, their dependence on American consumers has diminished. The equilibrium among production, wages and purchasing power – the equilibrium that Henry Ford famously recognized when he upped his workers’ pay to an unheard-of $5 a day in 1913 so they could afford to buy the cars they made, the equilibrium that became the model for 20th-century American capitalism – has been shattered. Making and selling their goods abroad, U.S. multinationals can slash their workforces and reduce their wages at home while retaining their revenue and increasing their profits. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Our economic woes, then, are not simply cyclical or structural. They are also – chiefly – institutional, the consequence of U.S. corporate behavior that has plunged us into a downward cycle of underinvestment, underemployment and under-consumption. Our solutions must be similarly institutional, requiring, for starters, the seating of public and worker representatives on corporate boards. Short of that, there will be no real prospects for reversing America’s downward mobility.