Thursday, September 28, 2006

October Literacy Strands

More mumbo jumbo from the Reading Writing Workshop Fools on The Hill

American Rhetoric

From Remember The Titans (courtesy of Anybody know what this place is? This is Gettysburg. This is where they fought the Battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin' the same fight that we're still fightin' amongst ourselves today.

This green field right here was painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys, smoke and hot lead pourin' right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men:
'I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family.'
You listen. And you take a lesson from the dead. If we don't come together, right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed -- just like they were. I don't care if you like each other or not. But you will respect each other. And maybe -- I don't know -- maybe we'll learn to play this game like men.

Monday, September 25, 2006


After viewing "Gettysburg" and researching the topic I come away thinking, these guys were just as insane as Rumsfeld and Company. Rushing headlong into battle knowing most wounds would lead to amputation or death and for what? I combined archival images with Denzel's speech from "Remember The Titans"

Civil War: The Santa Fe Trail 1

I reached down into my bag of tricks for videos to excite the 8th graders into learning about the Civil War. I chose Gettysburg over the Burn's documentary, thinking Burns would be too slow moving. Gettysburg was too slow too-at least in the beginning. I should have started with the 1940 pre-Civil war tale of the Cavalry vs. John Brown. Wildly inaccurate with John Brown portrayed as the heavy, instead of savior. Lots of grist for the mill in terms of the filmakers' point of view. In learning about the film I found out that Lincoln's son Todd heard Raymond Massey (who played Brown and Abraham Lincoln in several films) speak in the 1920's and said his voice was similar to his father's. In this scene, Robert E. Lee leads the Federal troops
against John Brown at Harper's Ferry. Flynn plays JEB Stuart, Reagan plays George Custer.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

All The Leaves Are Falling Down

The kindergarten kids created fall pictures. I recorded their responses. While I try to match sound files with kids, here's a kidsong karaoke version.There are hand motions that accompany

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Nail Em Up

I saw All The King's Men tonight. Great in parts, disappointing in many others. Why does the hero of the underdog always have to be corrupted? I suspect a ruling class false flag device. I dedicate "nail em up" to the bureaucrats at Tweed, Columbia Teacher's College and the Regional Superstructure of the NYCDOE (especially Region 9) for the recently released disappointing reading scores.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sounds Of Sojourner-Week 2

In this week's episode: Pictured clockwise from top left- chunking, Steve Irwin's death (not Jeff Corwin), Hugo Chavez, and the Harlem Tea Room. Also a plug for Edwin's aunt's restaurant, Marysol's (?), Mrs. Braun's (the former Cosby scholar) love of Starbucks, an upcoming event at Sojourner's Place, fire drills and getting spoiled by Jody's grandma.Here it all on episode 2 of Sounds of Sojourner

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Listening And Speaking

I'm no expert on Early Childhood Ed, but I don't think those above mentioned literacy components are stressed enough (especially speaking) in the world of the mini lesson. I took a crack at it with the kindergarten by having them tell me about certain scenes from a movie on Puerto Rican families. Click on the sound icon in the slide show to hear the embedded narration for each slide

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Don't Want A Pickle, I Just Want.....

Actually, I could easily take care of a quart of half sours by myself. The 6th Annual Lower East Side Pickle Festival, 9/17/06-great weather, a nice crowd, mother and daughter Lehon's and a surprise encounter with Aunt Lilly and Cousin Lois. The slide show combines pics I took with some info on the festival, some Crossing Delancey production photos and "Come Softly To Me" (used in the movie) as a soundtrack. I used the Fleetwoods instead of the film's Roches' version. I remember my mother taking me to the original Guss in the 50's when his store was on Hester (across from Gertel's). For my money the "Pickle Guys" (on Essex Street) are better than the current version of Guss.

Live From New York

I think I'm Ray to Jody's Bob. Jody and I got to know each other last year when he would hang out in the guidance office with Marty B. and myself at lunch. He's moved his seat of operations to the library and I think this could become a regular, "News of the Week in Review," Friday feature. 100% nonscripted. This is part 1 of two.

Ground Zero American Gangster

The pic is of 116th and 8th Ave. (Frederick Douglass) today. From the NYMag (mid 1990's) Frank Lucas story: "During the early seventies, when for a sable-coat-wearing, Superfly-strutting instant of urban time he was perhaps the biggest heroin dealer in Harlem, Frank Lucas would sit at the corner of 116th Street and Eighth Avenue in a beat-up Chevrolet he called Nellybelle. Then living in a suite at the Regency Hotel with 100 custom-made, multi-hued suits in the closet, Lucas owned several cars. He had a Rolls, a Mercedes, a Corvette Sting Ray, and a 427 muscle job he'd once topped out at 160 mph near Exit 16E of the Jersey Turnpike, scaring himself so silly that he gave the car to his brother's wife just to get it out of his sight. But for "spying," Nellybelle was best. "Who'd think I'd be in a shit $300 car like that?" asks Lucas, who claims he'd clear up to $1 million a day selling dope on 116th Street. "One-sixteenth Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenue was mine. I bought it. I ran it. I owned it," Lucas says. "When something is yours, you've got to be Johnny-on-the-spot, ready to take it to the top. So I'd sit in Nellybelle by the Roman Garden Bar, cap pulled down, with a fake beard, dark glasses, long wig . . . I'd be up beside people dealing my stuff, and no one knew who I was....Twenty-five years after the end of his uptown rule, Frank Lucas, now 69, has returned to Harlem for a whirlwind retrospective of his life and times. Sitting in a blue Toyota at the corner of 116th Street and what is now called Frederick Douglass Boulevard ("What was wrong with just plain Eighth Avenue?" Lucas grouses), Frank, once by his own description "tall, pretty, slick, and something to see" but now stiff and teetering around "like a fucking one-legged tripod," is no more noticeable than when he peered from Nellybelle's window.Indeed, few passersby might guess that Lucas, at least according to his own exceedingly ad hoc records, once had "something like $52 million," most of it in Cayman Islands banks. Added to this is "maybe 1,000 keys of dope on hand" with a potential profit of no less than $300,000 per kilo. Also in his portfolio were office buildings in Detroit, apartments in Los Angeles and Miami, "and a mess of Puerto Rico." There was also "Frank Lucas's Paradise Valley," a several-thousand-acre spread back in North Carolina on which ranged 300 head of Black Angus cows, including a "big-balled" breeding bull worth $125,000.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

American Gangster

Some of the teachers were planning a Friday neighborhood walk with their kids to view the set for a new movie, "American Gangster," starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. It was being filmed between 122-123rd Streets and Malcom X Blvd. (Lenox). I checked it out at lunchtime and caught a lucky shot of Denzel, before being shooed away by the usual set "thugs." To the left of Denzel is director Ridley (Gladiator) Scott. DenzeI appeared very pensive, looking like he was getting into his role, I did some research on the movie and found that it was based on the life of the infamous Harlem "druglord" Frank (Superfly) Lucas, with an extended NYMag piece by Mark Jacobson providing the inspiration. Here's the link to it. It's an incredible view of the drug trade in Harlem in the late 60's, early 70's. Here's a slide show I put together of pictures I took, along with some background info and shots of the stars.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Los Pollitos

Some nifty "footwork" here. I was working with kindergarten kids on hispanic heritage month integration. I was using the Maya and Miguel site from PBS that has really good flash games. The kids knew the "Los Pollitos"
song from Pre-K and the teacher started leading them in song. I found the sound file online and "joined" them. Here they are acapella

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tech Integration And 9/11

I found the kids I was working with (7th and 8th graders) not really into discussing the topic. I thought I had a good plan-archived movies I had from ny1 of the ceremonies of the past years as a push into the content
This was followed with utilizing the NYTimes excellent "Portraits of Grief" series that I saved in acrobat and the CNN database of victims. The kids had to toggle between the site and word and just write a story about a person that interested them. I also tried to capture some of their memories on audio, but I guess I'm no David Isay. Here's the results in a slide show form. The last slide (Arlene) must have lived in either Knickerbocker Village or Al Smith Houses

National Hero: Keith Olberman

Unlike the cowards and lackeys of abc, this guy has kahones

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Have You Had Enough

It's been about 30 years since Rickie Lee Jones recorded her first hit song. This is her latest composition.
As mentioned on the following sites:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Flim Flam Reading

Dedicated the those folks at Columbia Teacher's College getting rich off of this program
video removed
A perfect home for these Laura Nyro lyrics:
Hands off the man the flim flam man
his mind is up his sleeve and his talk is make believe
Oh lord the man's a fraud he's flim flam man
Hands off the man the flim flam man he's the one in the Trojan horse
making out like he's Santa Claus
Oh lord the man's a fraud he's a flim flam man
he's a fox he's a flim flam man everybody wants him
the people and the police and all the pretty ladies disarm
the beautiful gent you know he has hardly a cent
he pays his monthly rent with daily charm
Hands off the man the flim flam man
his mind is up his sleeve and his talk is make believe
Oh lord the man's a fraud he's flim flam man
he's so cagey he's an artist he's a fox he's a flim flam man
don't believe him he's a flim flam man

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where Or When 2

This time I matched the larger versions of some the matching Abbott and Levere sites along with the MCNY's text. "The matching New York scenes is nice school project. There are many archival images ready for the amateur to do his or her matching. It would also be an interesting project to take along enlarged old images to the site and do some interviewing of an on-site senior citizen as a prop to spark memories of that scene.

Where Or When

I stumbled across Douglas Levere's New York Changing site. It preceded the book he published last year on the topic: "Douglas Levere Revisits Berenice Abbott’s New York presents pairs of images by contemporary photographer Douglas Levere and world-renown photographer Berenice Abbott. Abbott’s iconic photographs, drawn from the MCNY's permanent collection, were taken in the 1930s and first published in her landmark book, Changing New York (1939). More than six decades later, Levere used the same camera Abbott had used and returned to the same locations at the same time of day and the same time of year. Indeed, he took on the role of detective as he successfully sought to understand and replicate every aspect of Abbott’s process. When seen side by side, these two remarkable bodies of work reveal much about the city and the nature of urban transformation.  Perhaps more than anything else, these carefully crafted images powerfully suggest that in New York, the only constant is change." I included some of those matched pairs, set I thought somewhat appropriately to Rodger's and Hart's "Where Or When."This was a big favorite of my father's to sing at weddings and bar mitzvah's. There were a few times he actually pulled it off with some success. The version used is an abridged Benny Goodman one.
The amazing Hart lyrics, that capture the essence of Deja Vu, complete with the verse:
When you're awake, the things you think Come from the dream you dream
Thought has wings, and lots of things Are seldom what they seem
Sometimes you think you've lived before All that you live to day
Things you do come back to you As though they knew the way
Oh the tricks your mind can play
It seems we stood and talked like this, before We looked at each other in the same way then
But I can't remember where or when The clothes you're wearing are the clothes, you wore
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then But I can't remember where or when
Some things that happened for the first time Seem to be happenin' again
And so it seems that we have met before And laughed before, and loved before
But who knows where or when Some things that happened for the first time
Seem to be happenin' again And so it seems that we have met before
And laughed before, and loved before But who knows where or when

Monday, September 04, 2006

Old School, New School

video removed
I haven't seen Idlewild. I am sure I would like some of the period sets and musical numbers. Reviews say that the director didn't go to school on some of the classic 30-40's musicals. The plot evidently is just as stale as the old schools', but I'm sure there's nothing in Idlewild that can compare to the Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway. From Stormy Weather, done at probably 1% of Idlewild's budget

You say you want a literacy connection? Here's those meaningful lyrics-hey they're more meaningful than much of Outkast
Boys - what you gonna say down there? Oh Boys - what you gonna say down there?
Palamar, Shalamar, Swanny Shore Let me dig that jive once more
Boys - take it right on down to the gator Oh boys - gotta take a side elevator
Can't you hear those hip cats call Come on boys let's have a ball
The jip-jam-jump is a jumpin' jive Makes you dig your jive on the mellow side
The jip-jam-jump is a solid jive Makes you nine foot tall when you're four foot five
Now, don't you be that ickeroo Get hip, come on and follow do
When you get your steady fool You met your jump like the gators do
The jip-jam-jump is a jumpin' jive Makes you like your eggs on the Jersey side
The jip-jam-jumpin' jive Makes you hip hip on the mellow side
The jip-jam-jump is a solid jive Makes you nine foot tall when you're four foot five
The jip-jam-jumpin' jive Makes you hip hip on the mellow side
Now, don't you be that ickeroo Get hip, come on and follow do
When you get your steady fool You met your jump like the gators do
The jip-jam-jump is a jumpin' jive Makes you like your eggs on the Jersey side
The jip-jam-jumpin' jive Makes you hip hip on the mellow side
Skibbel-de-doo . . .Now I told you 'bout the jumpin' jive
Jip-jam-jum the jumpin' jive I know you dug this mellow jive
Cause you dig it on the mellow side

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Woo Woo DBQ

This is pretty hot and could qualify for the top ten. The Library of Congress has a collection of special pictoral editions (rotogravures) of the NYTimes during the World War I years. I downloaded some of the individual pdf files and then captured ad portions of them. What's next-the obvious slide show. However, the added wrinkle here is that I used to find the image of the corresponding street address today.I inserted them in the slide show after the old address mentioned in the ads. This couldn't be done in the Brooklyn Eagle Ads since a9 maps only exist for Manhattan Streets (and only some of them).I was just thinking for local history sake it would be great if more NY newspapers were digitized, like the Amsterdam News and the NY Post (when it used to be a real newspaper)

I then made up a quiz for the slide show that you can view here

Local Hero Star, Peter Riegert

Here's the forementioned Peter Riegert. King of the Corner was a great movie. A lot of aging father/son touching scenes. Here's part of an interview with Peter where he mentions his teaching days: "Long before we knew him as an actor, Peter Riegert was a teacher. It was 1968, and the Lindsay administration was under fire over the emotional issue of community control of schools in the largely black and Hispanic Ocean Hill/Brownsville school district, a movement that resulted in strikes by the predominantly white teachers union. “This was the height of the war. This was my way of doing something other than just protest the war,” he says. “It became clear very quickly that I wasn't a good teacher or couldn't be a good teacher because I didn't want to be a teacher. You know, I didn't have any passion for teaching. I had a passion for not supporting a war." After his teaching stint, Riegert worked in 1970 for one of the most compelling characters in New York politics, Bella Abzug. “So I'm typing away and I feel this presence over my shoulder,” he says. “So I turn around and looming over me is Bella. In her inimitable way, she just kind of looked as me as if I was either a pathetic soul, or, ‘Is this the best we can do?’ Somebody would challenge her in terms of her ideas and a full-fledged debate would go on right at the subway stop or wherever we were. I'd never done this before, and she would like yell at me, ‘That's not the way to do it. Don't just stick the pamphlet out - you've got to say my name. You got to tell them who's on the pamphlet.’”

Here's a link to an interesting interview with Peter about "King of the Corner"

Local Heroes, Windsor Terrace: Wayne Barrett

Wayne lives around the corner from me. He's a long time Village Voice editor and journalism professor at Columbia and Hunter. I know him from Ocean Hill Brownsville teacher rookie days. Wayne was so committed to the cause that he lived in Ocean Hill for a while. He left teaching after a few years to go into journalism full time. Coincidentally, the star of the movie "Local Hero," Peter Riegert, taught as well in Ocean Hill in 1968-9. Wayne is one of the few NYC journalists who is not afraid to take on the powerful and tackle taboo subjects. Unfortunately he is so anti-UFT that
he chooses the Bloomberg/Tweed faction over them. They both reek, but the UFT reeks less. Years ago when I came to teach on the LES I was going to approach Wayne about having some prospective journalism students intern at the Voice. I was told by a "clubhouse principal hack" (the other Lenny) whose pal Shelly Silver was stung by Wayne, that Wayne was strictly off limits. Hopefully the books that he co-wrote on Giuliani will help hurt his Presidential chances. Here's a blurb on his latest called, "Grand Illusion": Rudy Giuliani emerged from the smoke of 9/11 as the unquestioned hero of the day: America's Mayor, the father figure we could all rely on to be tough, to be wise, to do the right thing. In that uncertain time, it was a comfort to know that he was on the scene and in control, making the best of a dire situation. But was he really? Grand Illusion is the definitive report on Rudy Giuliani's role in 9/11-the true story of what happened that day and the first clear-eyed evaluation of Giuliani's role before, during, and after the disaster. While the pictures of a soot-covered Giuliani making his way through the streets became very much a part of his personal mythology, they were also a symbol of one of his greatest failures. The mayor's performance, though marked by personal courage and grace under fire, followed two terms in office pursuing an utterly wrongheaded approach to the city's security against terrorism. Turning the mythology on its head, Grand Illusion reveals how Giuliani has revised his own history, casting himself as prescient terror hawk when in fact he ran his administration as if terrorist threats simply did not exist, too distracted by pet projects and turf wars to attend to vital precautions. Authors Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins also provide the first authoritative view of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, recounting the triumphs and missteps of the city's efforts to heal itself. With surprising new reporting about the victims, the villains, and the heroes, this is an eye-opening reassessment of one of the pivotal events-and politicians-of our time."

Here's part of a recent NPR interview with Wayne and co-author Dan Collins

Local Heroes, Windsor Terrace: Nancy Kalish

I haven't done a Local Hero segment in a long time. Nancy actually lives in the South Slope, but it's close enough. Nancy is friendly with my wife and they have collaborated successfully. She has co-written a book on the abuses of homework.Some blurbs: "Parents of America, unite! You have nothing to lose but your frustration. The Case Against Homework is an important book that takes on the 500-pound gorilla--homework overload--long ignored by educational policy makers. Every parent of a school-age child should buy it and follow the authors' excellent advice in order to protect their children from an educational system gone haywire."
--Dan Kindlon, author of Raising Cain, Too Much of a Good Thing, and Alpha Girls
"A wonderful book that is not just about homework but about the sadness and futility of turning children into drudges who learn--if one can call it learning--without passion, without love, and without gaining independence. Every educator, every politician, and every parent should read this book and take it to heart."
--Mary Leonhardt, author of 99 Ways to Help Your Kids Love Reading
"Most parents have experienced the negative effects of homework on family harmony, family time, and play time, but they accept it as a necessary evil. Bennett and Kalish reveal that the homework emperor has no clothes; there is no good evidence to support piling on homework, especially in the younger grades.”
--Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting
"This book makes a strong case against the nightly barrage of homework. It sends a critical message about how to improve the health and well-being of our children by cutting back on busy work."
--Denise Pope, author of Doing School, Stanford School of Education lecturer, and founder of Stressed Out Students

Here's your link to amazon to purchase the book

Can You Surrey, Can You Picnic?

The Sunday Times' City Section has an article about the efforts to save the Van Tassell and Kearney Sales Ring Stable on 13th Street and 3rd Avenue.This was the perfect opportunity for the manic depressive to collect some old horse and carriage pics and combine them with the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, "Surrey With The Fringe on Top." The picture attached
comes from the site. Here's the text:The private omnibus, built on the lines of the public version, was first developed about 1870. It had a covered passenger section, with seats along the two sides and a door with a step at the rear. Some that were made for country use had a forward facing seat mounted on the roof behind the driver’s seat. Lighter versions without the roof seat were made for use in the city, and these were sometimes called “opera buses” in America. The extension of the roof over the driver’s seat is similar to that on a rockaway, hence the name. The omnibus was owned by Mr. E.B. Smith of Philadelphia. It was known to his family as “the church wagon.”
Van Tassel & Kearney were not carriage builders; they were auctioneers and dealers in carriages and harness. At one time they held the New York agency for the important carriage building firm of Henry Hooker & Co., of New Haven. This omnibus is very similar to a carriage shown in the Hooker catalogue of about 1898 and named the “Stamford wagonette.”
Here's the Surrey lyrics:
When I take you out tonight with me Honey, here's the way it's gonna be
You will set behind a team of snow-white horses In the slickest gig you'll ever see.
Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry When I take you out in the surrey
When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top Watch that fringe an' see how it flutters
When I drive them high-steppin' strutters Nosy pokes will peak through their shutters and their eyes will pop!
The wheels are yellow, the upholstery's brown The dashboard's genuine leather.
With eisenglass curtains you can roll right down In case there's a change in the weather
Two bright side-lights winkin' and blinkin' Ain't no finer rig I'm a thinkin'
You can keep yer rig if yer thinkin' that I'd keer to swap Fer that shiny little surry with the fringe on the top
Would you say the fringe was made of silk? Wouldn't have no other kind but silk
Has it really got a team of snow-white horses? One's like snow, the other's more like milk.
All the world'll fly in a flurry When I take you out in the surry
When I take you out in the surry with the fringe on top. When we hit that road, hell-for-leather
Cats and dogs will dance in the heather Birds and frogs'll sing all together and the toads will hop!
The wind'll whistle as we rattle along, The cows'll moo in the clover
The river will ripple out a whispered song, And whisper it over and over
Don't you wish you'd go on forever Don't you wish you'd go on forever Don't you wish you'd go on forever
And you'd never stop? In that shiny little surry With the fringe on top

Don't Stop The Carnival

With Brooklyn's Carnival approaching on Labor Day I'm reminded of the composer of "Don't Stop The Carnival" and the world's greatest living jazz musician, Sonny Rollins.


Here's the climatic and prescient scene from Three Days Of The Condor

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A New Look At DBQ's

I cropped out some of the advertisements from the archived Brookyn Eagle (online at the Brooklyn Public Library) and combined them in a slide show.

I then created a quiz based upon the slide show that I posted on my quizmaker account at Discovery

Three Days Of The Condor And Nine Days Before 9/11

I saw this the other day. Still a great flick and remarkably prescient in regard to the current political climate. Now if you think that remark is pseudo, check out the reviews from Amazon laden with Japanese Go terminology :
In his 1979 novel "Shibumi" (part political thriller, part cynical attack on Western civilization and part satire of the thriller genre), written at the end of that genre's possibly greatest decade, Trevanian explains the six parts of the Japanese board game symbolizing the concept of effortless perfection and inspiring that novel's title: Fuseki (the opening stage or strategic premise), Sabaki (an effort to quickly, efficiently terminate a problematic situation), Seki (a neutral standoff where neither side gains an advantage), Uttegae (a potentially sacrificial strategic maneuver), Shicho (a running offensive) and Tsuru no Sugomori (literally, "the confinement of the cranes to their nest:" the elegant capture of the opponent's stones).
Like other books published then and influenced by the shocking Watergate revelations, "Shibumi" asks what happens if government is hijacked by a secret association not bound by anything but its own interests and hunger for power. One of the most important novels on whose legacy Trevanian builds in his book is James Grady's "Six Days of the Condor," adapted for the screen by director Sydney Pollack in this hugely successful fourth (of seven) collaboration(s) with Robert Redford; costarring Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow and Cliff Robertson. But while Grady's novel centered around the Vietnam trauma, the movie's screenplay, besides shortening the critical time frame from six days to three, changes the focus to the era's obsession with oil; thus effortlessly proving one of the story's key points: Assuming a group of insiders truly managed to commandeer key governmental structures, the respective substantive context would be of little import, because *any* such action would constitute a terminal violation of public trust, and the consequences for any individual caught in the resulting web of intrigue and deceit would be equally disastrous.
"Three Days of the Condor" begins with the assassination of virtually the entire staff of a New York CIA office of "reader researchers," agents responsible for the detection of possible clues to actual or potential Agency operations in literature. The massacre's sole survivor is Joe Turner, codenamed "Condor" (Redford), who literally happened to be out to lunch when the assassins hit. After his discovery of the bloodbath, his superiors promise to bring him "home," using his inside friend Sam as a confidence-builder. But at the assigned meeting Sam is shot, too, and Turner himself only escapes by the skin of his teeth - again. Realizing that his own organization is somehow involved in the hit and that he is no longer safe in his own apartment, Turner hides in the home of photographer Kathy Hale (Dunaway), whom he takes hostage, but who is a loner like him and eventually develops a fondness for him, agreeing to help him trying to discover the truth behind the terrifying labyrinth of lies and double standards in which he suddenly finds himself.
While "Condor"'s tale does have a clear premise (the interests of those responsible for the massacre) and both the mass-assassination and the following events are merely moves in the lethal game into which Turner is thrown against his will (and where his greatest advantage is his unpredictability), against the overbearing opponent he faces, he alone has little chances of emerging victoriously; of, in the terminology of Shibumi, "confining the cranes to their nest:" All he can hope for is a long-lasting state of Seki; a standoff and perhaps temporary ceasefire (a conclusion later also reached in John Grisham's bestselling "The Firm"). The inference, of course, is that it takes more than a single individual's discovery of a government-undermining conspiracy to take down the conspirators - and as in Watergate, the press is seen as a crucial vehicle for reaching a mass audience and taking the events out of the perpetrators' control.
Due to the universality of its theme, the importance of "Condor" far exceeds the story's 1970s context. Indeed, it is as relevant now as it was then; and so is the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Woodward-Bernstein account on Watergate and its corresponding movie ("All the President's Men;" also starring Redford, alongside Dustin Hoffman and Jason Robards). But this is also a magnificently filmed movie, sharply edited and using New York City's wintry urban landscape for full dramatic effect. Robert Redford gives a career-defining, tightly controlled performance as cornered bookworm-turned-spy Joe Turner, matched in every respect by Max von Sydow's hired assassin Joubert, who has no cause of his own, finds his occupation "quite restful," never concerns himself with his missions' "why" but only the "when," "where" and "how much," and paints delicate little figurines in his hours of relaxation. Faye Dunaway's Kathy is not merely another victim of Stockholm syndrome (a hostage's identification with their captors' motives); she truly comes to understand Turner because of their likeness: Her photos are expressions of her loneliness as much as Joe's solitary stance against an entire governmental organization; beautiful but sad November pictures of empty streets, fields and park benches, shot in black and white and an intricate, subtle metaphor even during their love scene. Cliff Robertson's CIA man Higgins finally is the perfect foil for both Turner and Joubert; not as far along in his career as he should be but, although sympathetic to Turner's plight, fully buying into the legitimacy of the Agency's "games" and ready to do whatever it takes to keep an embarrassment from becoming conspicuous.
Turner's and Higgins's last meeting is poignantly set against a Salvation Army choir's performance of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and its chorus "Oh tidings of comfort and joy;" ending in a still shot of Turner's face starkly reminiscent of Kathy's photos. Yet, "Condor's" story is open-ended: What would he do, were he still around today?
"What is it with you people - do you think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?"
Since September 11th two years ago, most of us are probably more willing to believe that there can be evil (albeit unseen) forces active within our society which can suddenly result in death and destruction. What sets this film apart from most others in its genre is the introduction of a guileless central character (Joe Turner played by Robert Redford) who seems to pose no threat to anyone and yet he becomes involved in a deadly situation which neither he nor we understand. Director Sydney Pollack was perhaps influenced by Alfred Hitchcock who, in so many of his own films, subjects an innocent person to undefined but nonetheless nerve-chilling terror.

Return To Glory

I was cleaning up some blog errors and typos and noticed that a youtube Glory video could gave been included in last month's story on the 54th Regiment. Well here it is and the youtuber who posted it had a Guns and Roses soundtrack. I always just assumed, like your typical 58 year old close-minded guy, that Guns and Roses was heavy metal crap, but that's about the 10,000 time I've been wrong.
"What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach...
So, you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it!
Well, he gets it! N' I don't like it any more than you men." *
Look at your young men fighting Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying The way they've always done before
Look at the hate we're breeding Look at the fear we're feeding
Look at the lives we're leading The way we've always done before
My hands are tied The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide And history hides the lies of our civil wars
D'you wear a black armband When they shot the man
Who said "Peace could last forever" And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy I went numb when I learned to see
So I never fell for Vietnam We got the wall of D.C. to remind us all
That you can't trust freedom When it's not in your hands
When everybody's fightin' For their promised land
And I don't need your civil war It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh I don't need your civil war
Look at the shoes your filling Look at the blood we're spilling
Look at the world we're killing The way we've always done before
Look in the doubt we've wallowed Look at the leaders we've followed
Look at the lies we've swallowed And I don't want to hear no more
My hands are tied For all I've seen has changed my mind
But still the wars go on as the years go by With no love of God or human rights
'Cause all these dreams are swept aside By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide And history bears the scars of our civil wars
"We practice selective annihilation of mayors And government officials
For example to create a vacuum Then we fill that vacuum
As popular war advances Peace is closer" **
I don't need your civil war It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh And I don't need your civil war
I don't need your civil war I don't need your civil war
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh I don't need your civil war
I don't need one more war I don't need one more war
Whaz so civil 'bout war anyway