Garrison Keillor’s Confessions of a Listener

Keillor weighs in on podcasting and the return of community radio. Everything old is new again and vice-versa. Makes me want to run out and start podcasting my own particular brand o’ lunacy…

AlterNet: Confessions of a Listener: “The deregulation of radio was tough on good-neighbor radio because Clear Channel and other conglomerates were anxious to vacuum up every station in sight for fabulous sums of cash and turn them into robot repeaters. I dropped in to a broadcasting school last fall and saw kids being trained for radio careers as if radio were a branch of computer processing. They had no conception of the possibility of talking into a microphone to an audience that wants to hear what you have to say. I tried to suggest what a cheat this was, but the instructor was standing next to me. Clear Channel’s brand of robotics is not the future of broadcasting. With a whole generation turning to iPod and another generation discovering satellite radio and internet radio, the robotic formatted-music station looks like a very marginal operation indeed. Training kids to do that is like teaching typewriter repair.
After the iPod takes half the radio audience and satellite radio subtracts half of the remainder and internet radio gets a third of the rest and Clear Channel has to start cutting its losses and selling off frequencies, good-neighbor radio will come back. People do enjoy being spoken to by other people who are alive and who live within a few miles of you.”

Bush and Blair’s IM chat

Actually written by Danielle Crittenden. Brilliant.

kickass43: hey
sxybritguy10: hey
kickass43: u up
sxybritguy10: cant sleep
kickass43: dont have that problem
sxybritguy10: noticed
kickass43: man I can fall sleep on a bicycle 🙂
sxybritguy10: lol. wish that was the only accident at g8
sxybritguy10: bloody cursed summit
kickass43: u brits r tuff folks
kickass43: u take bombs well
kickass43: ur arresting the badasses
kickass43: got plenty more room at gitmo if u need it
sxybritguy43: thnx. ur da man

More at the link.


Dir: Howard Brookner
Knowing I was reading the Burroughs bio, Mr. C____ lent me an old tape of documentaries, including this one by Howard Brookner on El Hombre Invisible.
To me, it was like watching an adaptation of the book. Brookner hit the same marks, and included many of the same quotes, though glossing over a lot of the novels post-Naked Lunch. It was good to put face to name, and the doc, shot between ’79 and ’82, includes some meetings with old friends and family: Allen Ginsberg (in his non-beard phase), Lucien Carr, Bill Burroughs Jr. (months before he died, virtually homeless), Burroughs’ brother (who roughly dismisses Naked Lunch to his face), and the author’s last assistant (and one of the executive producers) James W. Grauerholz, who comes across like one of John Malkovich’s slippery characters. There’s also footage of Burroughs’ NYC “bunker” and clips from the experimental films he and other friends shot, and many readings from his works (most notably Nova Express). In the credits we find that Jim Jarmusch worked as sound man for many of the NYC shoots–a quick IMDB search shows that Brookner worked as crew on Jarmusch’s first film, “Permanent Vacation.”
This is a great doc, but is currently out of print on VHS or DVD. Here are some photos I found of the NYC bunker.
Brookner died after making only one feature film, Bloodhounds of Broadway, which boasted a major cast, but flopped seriously at the box office.

Land of the Dead

Dir: George A. Romero
We had to wait twenty years for the fourth installment of George Romero’s zombie opus,
but I would say it was worth the wait. Nothing too advanced has happened since Day of the Dead that would alter Romero’s viewpoint. We’ve had lesser attempts (the Return of the Dead series), and some comical takes on the mythology (Peter Jackson’s most excellent “Dead Alive” and Simon Pegg’s adulatory “Shaun of the Dead”), as well as some atrocious updating (“28 Days Later” and the “Dawn” remake). So the door was still open to Romero to advance the mythology in this film and he doesn’t disappoint. Older scripts are kicking around that show what would have happened if the money had arrived ten years ago. However, Romero wrote this just before 9/11 and his sense of doom and the encroaching police state are just right for the times we’re in.
The rich live in a walled off citadel called Fiddler’s Green (a vertical version of the mall in “Dawn”, but reimagined as if the humans in that film had never left), overseen by Dennis Hopper’s Kaufman. Outside lie the impoverished class, unable to enter the citadel, but separated from the zombie-fied world outside by electric barricades. Addicted to drugs, drink, and gambling, infected with prostitution and revolutionary fervor (there’s a thin subplot of a people leader who still has, of all things, an Irish brogue), the masses are glad to be hemmed inside their little camp. A band of rogues in Kaufman’s employ (as opposed to the lawless road pirates in “Dawn”) make the occasional sortie out into the wastelands to scavenge supplies from abandoned markets.
The zombies, we see, still shamble about like zombies do, but they’ve evolved a bit, now able to understand primitive communication and follow a leader called Big Daddy, a former gas station owner. Romero’s sympathies have evolved–whereas the survivors of the past three Dead films had African-Americans in their cast, this time the charismatic black actor is the zombie leader. Here’s the real underclass.
Well, the plot follows two paths: the zombie army advancing on Fiddlers Green, and the heroes’ journey outside the walled city to capture the armored tank called “Dead Reckoning,” which has been hijacked by John Leguizamo’s character. Much zombie action follows, including a “flip-top head zombie” and much flesh-chunk chewing. The long-awaited massacre of the yuppie scum inside Fiddlers Green isn’t what I’d hoped for though. Hopefully the unrated director’s cut on DVD will satisfy my bloodlust. Bwaa-hahahaha!
Romero’s social commentary is always there and makes the film a bit more than just a horror flick–from the beginning, when “Dead Reckoning” storms through a village and masacres zombies for fun, the images of the raid on Fallujah and other Iraq war battles can’t help but pop up. And while Kaufman doesn’t resemble Bush in any way, the whole idea of Fiddler’s Green is pretty much a Neo-con’s wet dream. The masses outside have their diversions, and can never hope to enter the shining citadel. Romero parallels this idea with the use of fireworks to distract the zombies. Big Daddy finally teaches the zombies to ignore the shiny diversion and attack, which suggests the revolution will only happen once people turn off their TVs, stop worrying about sports and celebrity trials, and, as my friend suggested, stop going to popcorn movies like this one.
All in all, some good eatin’. Ain’t It Cool News has a nice and long, geeky interview with Romero from a year ago. Now that Land of the Dead did good box office, perchance some of the projects mentioned will go forward?