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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Absolutely Sweet Marie, the song from which this blog takes its name.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I am in a Greil Marcus place at the moment.
Trump has created a government that on paper is only steps away from realizing the dream of generations—the repeal not merely of Obamacare—the name of which trivializes it, as if it’s merely one man’s vanity project, not national policy, part of the republic—but of the New Deal and everything that flowed from it, the repeal of any notion of the Federal government playing an affirmative role in national life, “to protect the general welfare”: the repeal, in essence, of 20th century democracy. That means Social Security, the FAA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, the National Weather Service, and countless other institutions of American life. It means the dismantling of laws and institutions against discrimination of any and all kinds, to the point, perhaps, of allowing states and municipalities to re-institute de jure racial segregation along with the abolition of abortion rights, the abrogation rights of women to legal equality with men, and the criminalization of homosexuality (none of that sounds that far away for me; that was the America I grew up in). It means the junking of the national highway system, a New Deal successor under Dwight Eisenhower, in favor of selling it off to private companies. It means the abolition of Medicare, the most important New Deal successor program, and Medicaid, the Head Start, food stamps, and a thousand other programs. Oh, pundits say, all of that will hurt so called red state voters, Trump voters, right where they live, and they’ll be outraged! No they won’t. They voted for this. They voted for Trump—not out of some narrow sense of what pundits call their own interests, by which is meant their own narrowly defined economic interests, but because Trump embodied the kind of country they wanted to live in and the kind of people they wanted to think they are—and they will support him again. Many people on Medicaid and so many other linked government programs don’t vote, and merely cutting a lifeline won’t lead many of such people to vote. That is at the heart of American electoral history.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Bloomsday!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

We've started watching Handmaid's Tale. Some thoughts:

Billy Wilder (I think) tells us that voiceovers should only be used to tell us things that the camera doesn't show us. I suppose Handmaid is showing us that Offred isn't broken, that she is resisting, at least internally, and okay. The novel is told in the first person for just that reason. I still think it would work better without the interior monologue.

It is visually arresting, no doubt about that. The scene with the oranges is going to stay with me.

The world-building is very good. Still, two seasons of this? I'm really interested in the way that 21st Century television has opened up the cinematic possibilities in long form narrative, but can this story sustain itself over that many hours?

We are Margaret Atwood fans at Outside Counsel, and it is funny to think that this is the work of hers that will enter the canon. It isn't my favorite of her works-- that would be Cat's Eye. Is it her best? I have no idea how that would be determined. Someone once told Hogey Carmichael, "Nobody ever went broke writing songs about the South," and the same may perhaps be said of dystopian novels. Quick, name two other books by Aldous Huxley, you know?

Finally, a tangent. We went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend, and its affirming feminism is an interesting alternative to Handmaid in the Age of Trump.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Bob Dylan's Nobel Lecture.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Greg Allman, Live at Canisus High School. My gosh, a recording!


Tony Conrad, getting his props at last.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Last October I wrote about an episode of police misconduct and what I regard as the inadequate response my complaints received. Several months ago I wrote to Common Council Member David Rivera, the chair of the Police Oversight Committee about this. Apparently my email fell behind a radiator or something, because I did not receive a reply. I wrote a followup last week, and met with the Councilmember this morning. Mr. Rivera has impressed me in the past as a relatively responsive member of Buffalo's Greatest Deliberative Body, but I am not pleased with his response to my overriding concern. The real issue here is the complete lack of any formal  system for receiving and recording civilian complaints. If complaints about police misconduct can only be made to the police then there really is no police accountability. Apparently the only mechanism in place is the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, and the Commissioner, who is a mayoral appointment. If complaints about police misconduct can only be made to the police then there really is no police accountability.

I intend to follow up on this.


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