The best analysis of the Big Lebowski I’ve ever heard [Repost from 2013 w/Updated working link]

There are many other elements to analyze in the film: the homage to films of the 30’s and 40’s, especially the film noir detective genre and the Busby Berkeley musical of course. There is the satire of the art world, L.A., power and violence, the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy and violence of the rich (and their cop enforcers)…The list is long, but this clip gets at the most important theme, the heart of the matter, in more ways than one.
The dude abides…

P.S. This is a short video clip with a voice-over review from Richard Brody’s “Front Row” series for the New Yorker magazine. In case they move the link again, that should help people search for it. If you find the link at the top is broken, please let me know in the comments and I will fix it if possible.

P.P.S. This is a spoiler for the clip, but if the clip does get taken down permanently, here is the most important part of the review:

After The Dude tells Maude about his experiences as a 60’s radical, Brody comments,

“The historical events The Dude refers to here are real and crucial moments in the American New Left in the 1960’s. The subject of the film is, what remains of the 1960’s, of the spirit of protest, of the anti-militarism of that period? And the Coen brothers provide an answer: No matter how burned-out and gone to seed its heralds may seem, its spirit abides.


Robin Williams is at peace

Robin Williams was one of the kindest, most talented, funniest, most creative individuals to ever walk the earth. He was a ball of energy and light in an imperfect vessel. Now he has cast it off and all of that beautiful energy is truly free. He survived much and experienced more than most of us ever will – and as cliched as it sounds, brought joy to the world. A true loss.

Pryor brilliance

Whoever uploaded this gave it a stupid title – and why do i always manage to find amazing clips that aren’t exactly HD…Well, again, it’s worth putting up with the poor quality because it’s a gem. In a way this is unadulterated Richard. He is in full fuck it mode. Machine-gun truth, hyper self-consciousness, crude, hyper-aware, satirical, ironical, crass, incisive, brilliant, witty, rude, kind, brash, impish, funny, cutting, profound.  He is rich, famous, playing hard, and there is a sadness and self-loathing that cannot be hidden away…It is a Shakespearean struggle.

Common sense

Common sense. It’s a double (actually triple) entendre. Brand is considered “common” in the English class system (yes, even though he is rich now) and is offering what I consider common sense political – and even spiritual – analysis. There is a third meaning as well to those familiar with Thomas Paine.

Of course, nothing he’s saying is new. Many have said it before and many are saying it now, but few have the access to media Brand has, and even fewer have his following. In media terms, his audience – the audience he carries around with him if you will – far exceeds even the most popular television show’s audience on its best night. For example the finale of Breaking Bad garnered a 6.6 million audience share. As of today, Brand has 7,366,715 followers on twitter – and I think it’s safe to assume that number represents a fraction of his fans worldwide who aren’t following him on twitter.

Not only is he articulate – often eloquent – concerning our current situation as humans on a planet increasingly controlled by corporate power and the politicians they pay for, but he has every skill needed to deal with media “journalists” and all of the various and sundry lackeys of the elite who populate our popular media landscape.

Aside from being a skilled debater (he would make a joke here), he is extremely quick-witted and capable of encapsulating complex thoughts in pithy “sound-bites.” While he has many other skills perfectly suited to communicate through the media, his most important trait is his humanity. Simply put, he cares about other people and believes people generally tend toward good impulses rather than ill. Again, there are others who appear in the media who still have their humanity, but Brand can communicate it better than most. They used to call it, “the common touch.”

So, who cares? Well, I guess it depends on who you are. Most people on the left have been trying to communicate some variation of these ideas for quite a long time now, with very little success. The prominent left’s reaction to Brand’s interview with Paxton is a testament to how fractured and divisive the left has become – and an object lesson in what some lefties do with their access to the media. Of course, some of this is airing dirty laundry, but now is as good a time as any if a certain faction of what’s left of the left wants to be on board for any actual popular resistance, let alone “lead” it.

Mark Fisher discusses these issues and how Russell Brand matters in his article, “Exiting The Vampire Castle.”

On December 5th, 2013, Doug Henwood interviewed Fisher for his radio show and podcast Behind the News. Though there is a bit of academic language thrown around, I think he does a nice job of summing up the way I would. Essentially, he supports what Brand is doing in the media, rejects divisive “indentitarianism,” calls for putting class firmly in the center of left discourse, and for getting back to practicing solidarity and common cause.

I want to end here, but because we are where we are, it seems more of a whimper than a bang. These calls have been made before (though I sense more energy building behind the critique of identity politics). The truth is, we have to call out even those calls, because after a certain point, talk and theorizing will beget even more talk and theorizing if that is the bulk of left “action.” I am not diminishing the need for those things; in fact, acting and theorizing are not mutually exclusive – but we will eventually have to do the hard organizing work they did generations ago, because about half of us will have very few other options. This isn’t a static situation by any means. There will be another manufactured crisis. It will be worse than the last one. The same corporations will be responsible.

The elite have embraced Neoliberalism and are using a series of policies based on that economic philosophy to organize the entire world in their image. It is a world where everything is commodified, i.e., made into something that can be bought or sold, where everything owned by the public and everything for the public good is privatized and only exists to generate profit, where no one has privacy and everyone is a number.

While capitalists of the past may have had visions of world domination, it would be difficult even for them to conceive of how much capital has been consolidated and what those capitalists (yes, mostly in the form of corporations) have been able to do with that capital. They are utilizing a neoliberal agenda that enacts and enforces laws using politicians and global organizations to reorganize the very structure of our lives. From food and water to oil and jobs, from education to housing, our lives are being reshaped by global capital. This is the threat. This is what is happening before our eyes. They have more power and wealth than has ever existed in history and they are using it on people in the same way all over the world.

In the end, this may turn out to be their greatest weakness. If exploited and oppressed people understand the same thing being done to them is being done to their brothers and sisters around the world, they can begin to talk. When they talk, they can begin to organize, and then together we can fight the corporate power that exists only to exploit for profit. A worldwide class war perpetrated against working people demands worldwide solidarity and organizing.

Unions like the IWW with international aspirations never really achieved their goals. Now, the consolidation of capital by a relative few corporations and individuals using the same set of policies all over the world may have created the conditions for the first actual worldwide movement of people to come together and with one voice say, “basta!”

Lenny Bruce

This is quite some tape here…sociologically too…

Lenny was a genius of course…

If you watch all the parts, Jonathan Winters even gets a shout out.

He’s a little shaky in the beginning, then starts to roll baby…and we learn some things about a real comedian’s motivations…

And then a little later: Carnegie Hall:

Of course, no comic today could get near the genius of Lenny Bruce. George Carlin was the last of them. Bill Hicks had some flashes of brilliance, but Lenny Bruce was ground down to a pulp and Carlin lived so long – and became so rightfully and righteously bitter – his material in the end amounted to stating brutal facts and telling the audience how stupid and ignorant they were. And they laughed and laughed…

And so it goes…

Waiting for…

This clip is from Waiting for Beckett. It is the only place I can find any of the Steve Martin, Robin Williams production.  You will find it between 4:06 and 10:40, but do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing.  Not insignificantly, it was directed by Mike Nichols and also featured Bill Irwin, F. Murry Abraham, and Lukas Haas.  I – and it seems many others – would love to see the whole thing someday, but it is nowhere to be found.

Williams and Martin appear to nail the comedy in Beckett.  I get the feeling Williams could play every character brilliantly (though I don’t like his improv in the scene – so wrong on so many levels).  Aside from the criticism (“Critic!”), their attempt at playing Beckett is intriguing to say the least.

Aha! I just found this:

It seems the pre-Godot Robin Williams agreed with me about improvising on Beckett’s text.

Here is part I of the documentary, Waiting for Beckett.  Just play the youtube wild goose chase after that to find the other parts.  It is excellent – well worth suffering through the poor quality of the copy.

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Click picture above to read The Believer article by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah,
“If He Hollers Let Him Go, Searching for Dave Chappelle ten years after he left his own show.”

One of the best articles I’ve read in a long while – and it happened to be the only confirmation I’ve ever seen of my thoughts about why Dave left Comedy Central.

Addendum: Dave Chappelle ascended to the mountaintop of comedy. He amassed the goodwill of billions and became a voice that people wanted to hear. He has since taken all of that and thrown it in the toilet. In a time of unprecedented inequality, war, corporate criminality, corrupt politicians, global warming, cops murdering black kids and adults with impunity and countless other horrors, Dave has chosen to punch down and belittle serious crimes while offering nothing original. And it’s not funny.

Can he still be funny? Sure, but his latest attempts at comedy are pathetic and bordering on cruel. He clearly thinks he’s the most macho of all the comics now – in fact, my guess is that he actually thinks he is fighting for comics to be able to say whatever they want. Well, he’s doing it wrong.

He made an extra to tack on to one of his Netflix specials. He tells a long anecdote about how he ended up sitting with a bunch (or let’s call them a murder) of neoliberal politicians at a stand-up gig. He talks about how well they all got along…and then he talks about how great it was to meet prince charles (who he was introduced to by gavin newsome). The episode ends with him meeting obama (who kamala harris had earlier asked dave to call). He’s telling on himself and he doesn’t even know it.

Chappelle has become a clueless, rich, mostly unfunny, celebrity who punches down and has no problem hanging with politicians who are greatly responsible for that oppression, because they do the bidding of the corporations and ultra-rich who purchase them. The saddest thing of all is that people are still eating it up. In the 70’s, Sammy Davis Jr. was pilloried (especially by black people) for running up to Nixon and giving him a big hug. Chappelle hasn’t done that, but he went on national television (SNL) and joked that he would benefit from the election of trump, and then he went even farther and asked people to “give him a chance.” He eventually had to sorta kinda apologize, but was given a pass by most people and all of his fans. There’s no excuse for this. Sammy wasn’t born into a family of scholars. Sammy never heard from the left or had much political knowledge at all. dave obviously knows very little about politics, but he should know better, and that is unforgivable.

To add insult to injury, he is a hypocrite (in his comedy act no less). He claims to know what it’s like to be poor and intimates that he grew up poor. Aside from the fact that he was never poor and has had money since he was 15, he has been rich for decades now. I’m not a fan of “cancel culture,” and actually believe its power has been overestimated, but dave has gone out of his way to cancel himself. Not because he is not “politically correct,” but because it’s clear he has chosen to side with his people, the 1%, against struggling and oppressed people. The irony in all of this is that he probably thinks he’s practicing the “sick humor” and satire of Lenny Bruce and Paul Krassner, but (again) he’s doing it wrong. Lenny and Paul used their talents to go after the rich and powerful and call out hypocrisy. dave is now using his talents to go after the poor and oppressed while hanging with the rich and powerful. It’s sad to watch, dispiriting, and disgusting enough to make your skin crawl – but apparently in the 21st century, all of this gets a pass as he collects his tens of millions from netflix and his fans cheer for more.