Saturday, January 31, 2015

The King and the Mockingbird (movie review)

The King and the Mockingbird (English title for a film from France), is really not that old:  1980, my year to finish a four year college.

And yet I'd not heard of it until now, a missing puzzle piece in some ways.

The mockingbird, a caring father of baby birds, speaks truth to power, an insufferable King who has a crush on a much younger woman who's already Facebook Friends with a chimney sweep (read:  lower class dude) her own age (and type).

The King plans on asserting white privilege in true royal style, only to be stymied by a bunch of sensitive lions riled to rebellion by a blind yet hope-filled musician, moved by the mockingbird's sly tale telling.

The world Paul Grimault creates is awesome, complete with improbable elevators and a giant robot, shades of Code Guardian, all in a swoopy "New Swine-stein" castle-like setting (with allusions to Mad King Ludwig cite Royal Babylon).

It's a modern police state in a nutshell, with a dictator run amuk.

What a great anthropological study (and spoof) of a theoretical ant hill (of the kind humans build).  I'm so glad I got to view this restored (and dubbed) version.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Throwaways (movie review)

I learned a lot this evening, from the documentary certainly, but also from the intro and Q&A.  The Clinton Street Theater has gotten more active and into a groove with KBOO, which is groovy, no complaints from my corner.

I don't go to that theater as often as John Waters says I should (fun clip), but Alexia's loyal participation in Rocky Horror on Saturdays maybe counts towards my good will karma.

We were fortunate to have one of the co-directors, the behind-the-camera guy who films Ira, the big affable gent on the system's throwaway list, as the system has no need for talented documentary makers with prison records.

Cable TV, on the other hand, does, and Ira is a poster child for those 1980s and onward public access studios the cable companies were asked to make, in exchange for mining the populace.  I've availed of the same resource, as did my co-workers at CUE.

Ira did exactly what sociologists who envisioned this symbiosis imagined should happen:  he turned his camera on the surrounding social ills and produced content for a concerned community audience.

The film poses some serious questions.

What is the fate of those decrepit city neighborhoods, with every child left behind?  Do those face gentrification, demolition, or the continuing malign neglect?

Art colonies, connected with universities or not, sometimes do wonders for a neighborhood I don't deny it, so I'm not saying one scenario fits all, yet I think brand new cities, such as Old Man River (OMR), deserve their day in the sun, so our generation might lay claim to some bold experiments, not just dreary wars.

Let a lot of people start over, build it in to our workflows that they can.

The days of exporting your loose ends to Australia or North America are at an end.

Ira's story tells of the new Jim Crow laws, which stigmatize him as a felon who keeps paying his "debt to society" long after the years in the Staten Island prison have been served.

Denied food stamps.  Ineligible for most work.  He's a throwaway on paper.  He doesn't buy that though.  He gets local cable station training in video making and now his award winning collaboration is traveling the country.

In Portland, the movie got itself a packed house, thanks to KBOO and its affiliates doing a good job of spreading the word.

As students of the Civil War well know, making slaves and later corporations into persons might happen in legal language, but society is often slow to see the benefits of following rules.

After the war, many slaves continued working the same property not as slaves, technically, but as serfs.  Slavery became feudalism.  Keeping the old apartheid system going was the name of the game.

Denying former slaves the vote became the object of an intimidation campaign with the KKK an overt symbol.  The movie Selma recapitulates that chapter.

Fast forward to 2015 and the old trigger-happy conditioned reflexes remain, possibly senseless but still engrained.

Jo Ann Hardesty played a leading role in introducing the night's program and clearly had many fans in the audience.  She hosts a regular show on KBOO.

A grass roots health care initiative aiming to cover Oregonians with something more coherent than the usual patchwork invited us to a rally in Salem.

I was encouraged to see people exercising their prerogatives as bona fide stakeholders in ongoing community debates, and perhaps plans for a more democratic tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Shared Calendar

Any member of MMM-PSC may share a calendar with it.  Group participants still need to decide how to organize sharing information amongst themselves.  Just because we all have a calendar doesn't decide which one we share publicly.  Here's one I'm sharing:

Don't be concerned if you don't see much happening. The Google Calendar and the whole idea of a listserv where just proposals in an environment with already-established practices around sharing calendars. Quakers go back to the 1600s.

A lot of generational torch passing was going on, plus some Friends were even leery of Google. What can I say.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wanderers 2015.1.13

I came straight from some AFSC work (May Day planning) and got in a bit late.  Skip was already into it, packed house.  I had laptop business to manage so ending up way in the back in a comfy chair was optimum.  The response was enthusiastic although a lot of braininess makes for some frustration.  People move at different rates.  Skip left best for last:  the actual physical models, which were quite large and interesting to view.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Oregon History and Steam Power

Oregon History Talk

Dr. Carl Abbott of PSU's urban studies program delivered a next-in-series presentation on Oregon's history at McMenamin's Kennedy School last night.  The theater was packed with some standing or sitting on the floor.  People were eager to learn this information, which is not usually shared on television.  The Oregon Encyclopedia and Oregon Historical Society are sponsoring this ongoing series of talks.

River boats helped network and grow the cities and towns together along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and Portland came into the foreground early as a port city.  St. Helens was an early rival, as was Astoria, and even Milwaukie.

However the plank road out to Washington County and a newspaper gave the city its sustenance and identity.  Milwaukie had the shallow sandbars around Ross Island to contend with and Astoria was still too far from the inland action.

Trains supplied the next layer of infrastructure, replacing wagon trains.  At the local level this helped economies like Hood River's as trains now hauled produce from that ecology's lush orchards.

Portland joined the transcontinental network with much fanfare (parades and speeches) in the mid 1800s.  The city far outgrew the others in the state and only now in 2015 are we seeing some signs of better balance, with Portland still the biggest, but not dwarfing the others so completely.

Carl did not have time to explore the road networks in detail, nor the building of the dams and the consequences of electricity for the region.  He was looking mostly at 1850-1950 whereas Oregon's importance as an electrical power source was a story for later.  Aluminum factories and later server farms would take advantage, with California plugging in via HVDC.

Sam Hill features in the road building story, as does Columbia Gorge tourism, photographers especially, which Carl alluded to in his "weekend corner" description of a scenic area suitable for weekend drives.  Carl did mention Les Schwab and his signature chain of vehicle maintenance facilities.

The audience asked lots of questions.  I attended with Denny, a member of Multnomah Meeting, like Carl is, resuming his life in Portland after a stint in Shanghai.   Many other Quakers were there as well.

Carl tells me Dan Pope from the U of Oregon will be covering more of the Silicon Forest chapter. They're doing a chronological series and Carl was doing mostly steam and some fossil fuel, with electricity to follow. I have a standing engagement first Mondays with Dr. Bolton, also of PSU (emeritus) so may not make another of these. I'm glad I at least got to this one.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Donuts Visit

Sitting in Heavenly Donuts awaiting a verdict on a car problem, you'd be expecting an ironic outcome, and maybe that's what this is:  clogged air flow meter, a $900+ item, merely clogged, so take her away for all of $76. 

Plus I got worked done while I bit down. 

Can you top it?  Yay Nissan.