by DJ Pangburn
I recently spoke to noted community organizer scott crow about how average people—people with dreams, vision, grit and motivation—can effect change in a very real and quantifiable way after the vote. This isn't a playbook for smashing some McDonald's or Starbucks windows, but for taking the fight to communities.
A tired cycle exists in American electoral culture. Every two years we vote for federal representatives and senators, and every four years we vote in the presidential election. Each election cycle builds to a critical mass of ideological recriminations, crescendoing on election day.
Americans then rather sadly wash their hands of the mess, and resolve to do very little or nothing to actively make democracy work. There is a relinquishing of the responsibility of democracy to representatives. And as we've seen in the last twelve years of bitter partisan divide, it has produced paralysis instead of results. It has popularized politicians who behave more like actors or programmed holograms than actual problem solvers.
Mr. crow has had a roughly two decade-long resume of working in community organizing circles, most notably as one of the founders of the Common Ground Collective, one of the largest and most-organized volunteer forces in the post-Katrina wasteland. When W's buddy “Brownie” (Michael Brown) was botching the FEMA response, and the National Guard was enforcing marshall law on New Orleans streets, CGC was busy cleaning out destroyed homes, mobilizing free healthcare, clothing and food, and otherwise delivering mutual aid to a grateful New Orleans population.
Much of crow's current work involves helping communities build worker cooperatives and local economies horizontally, which is explained in more detail below.
Author’s Note: This is a long-form interview. I am testing the boundaries of what the Internet generation can handle. There will be no cats here. Are you with me?!
We Are More Than Just Voters & Consumers
The voter, says crow, must pass into oblivion. In his or her place must arise the doer, the creator—that person who sees all potential and jumps into action.
Ancient Rome suffered a political paralysis similar to contemporary America. In Rome voters were mostly irrelevant. Into this political void came the Roman emperors who, while bringing some domestic stability, only hastened Rome's fall. Whereas the great American political paralysis might be a melancholic moment for this country's patriots, scott crow on the other hand sees vast opportunities to do great things.
“There are a set of paths in the middle that we haven't even explored to a great extent in this country,” says crow. “The dominant paradigm tells us that we are just voters and consumers with a void of other alternatives. Life—politics, culture and economies—[involves] more complicated social relationships in this country.”
The trick, says crow, is to be a creator: someone who sees new paths and pursues them energetically. “The [new paths] aren't always going to be easy,” says crow. “But we will be doing them together; block by block and community by community, as needed.”
Asked if voting has any real redeeming value, crow is mostly pessimistic. “Voting is a lot like recycling: if you're so damned lazy that you can't do anything else, then at least do that,” says crow. “It’s the least you can do. Pulling the lever or throwing something in the correct bin; neither require great effort or thinking, but neither have real impact either.”
Community organizers like crow have no time for political saviors. They are individuals who eschew antiquated democratic politics. Dreamers and doers who depart the political reservation for more unknown trajectories.
“We've had this mythology of the Great White Hope, that some great leader who will take us from our chains into the future,” notes crow, a little astonished that so many still buy into the collective democratic hallucination. “When ‘he’ fails—as they always do—we blame the person and not the systems that got us there. We need to look anew at our world and think of the different ways we can engage with the world, our city, our neighborhoods, and ourselves.”
“We have other choices,” adds Crow. “Why is that we demand choices in MP3 players, sodas or schools for example but not in our economic, cultural or political systems that affect everything about us and our world?”
Work Outside Your Social Realm
Rare is the occasion when Republicans and Democrats reach across the aisle these days, but the potential for ideological opposites to do so in community organizing is promising. Crow reveals that lately he's been working more with social libertarians (and radicals of all stripes).
“It's been really interesting because they are people who came out of the Right libertarian movement in Texas,” says crow. “These were people who had voted for Ron Paul at different times, and they started to move beyond electoral politics and into this social revolution. They're much more diverse than the typical analysis would lead you to believe. There are rural people, city people, age and intergenerational differences, as well as class, race and economic differences.”
Crow believes there are untold numbers of social libertarians out there ready to get to work.
“If everything fell down today, if everything collapsed, I believe there are more of those people than there are radicals or anarchists in this country who would rally and do things,” says crow. “They might vote but they're also working on community issues like getting clinics started or launching cop watch programs. I've found them to be really engaging and the experience has been quite eye-opening and refreshing.”
Issues Do Not Exist in Isolation
Americans have the tendency to engage issues in isolation. For the extreme (and even the mainstream) conservatives, “socialism,” “immigrants” or “gays” are the viruses corrupting the system—other domestic and international considerations be damned. A matrix of interrelated issues work at one another like a neural network. One cause may have several effects. And that cause may itself be the byproduct of other variables.
“If you want to stop hunger, you can't just go, Well, I'll just feed somebody and it's over,” says crow. “You start with that and then ask, Why are they hungry? Did they not have access to good schooling? So then we need to fix the schools or create new ones. Did they not have good access to jobs? Then we need to create good jobs with a living wage, dignity and respect. Or did they have healthcare issues that aren't being addressed, even just basic stuff? Well then we need to get community clinics in every community so that people can have their basic needs looked at before they become major issues like cancer or diabetes.”
Crow had to look toward more revolutionary movements for this sort of education.
“I had to look at what the Black Panthers and the Zapatistas did for their communities,” says crow. “I had to look at what the Spanish anarchists did when fascism was taking over. They were inspiring in that they helped their people and rebuilt their world. Those are just political references. In every subculture, whether it's religious groups, charities, or hip-hop communities, there are examples of people doing things themselves without waiting for government or other people to do it.”
“In what I like to call 'anarchism with a little 'a',' we need to explore ideas of direct action so that we're not waiting on others to fix the problems,” adds crow. “We will it ourselves. Mutual aid, cooperation, collective liberation—the idea that we're all in this together. But there also needs to be an awareness that you are in this yourself.”
Crow points out the unvarnished political reality: no leader, party or group is going to do this for Americans. But there is a more salient point. Even if a single leader or political party had this sort of desire, the country is far too big and complex for such national policymaking. They are mere band-aids on gushing wounds.
“We need to de-centralize and localize to solve the problems around us, while looking to support other communities doing the similar things and connect on larger issues,” says crow. “And to do this we have to first look at history.”
Create Localized Economies
“It's absolutely cliché to say we need to think globally and act locally,” says crow. “But that's exactly what we need to do while we are creating localized economies (gift, barter or local currencies), opening the common spaces from the holds of corporate private property (like shopping malls) and becoming neighbors again.”
“We need to know what is happening around the world and share the information, successes and challenges that we face in our communities to help each other,” adds crow. “What happens to a rice farmer in India or a landless peasant in Brazil or a family in Appalchia is of utmost importance to me in thinking of supporting each other.” The internet and social media in particular will help in this flow of information.
Perhaps the most important lesson in the recent trend of localization is that scaling down just might be what saves us. It doesn't require a singular savior but hundreds of millions, indeed billions of them. Centralized government and corporations haven't worked for humanity, argues crow. And who would disagree in this second decade of the 21st century?
“Centralizing corporations—these giant pyramids with elites at the top—aren't working out for the rest of us,” adds crow. “And it's not just the 99%—it's not working out for any of us, not even some of the elites.”
Government and industry aren't the only institutions ripe for a downsizing, according to crow—the world's social movements could use it as well. “Instead of having one big movement, what if we have thousands of decentralized movements that are working toward common ideals?” suggests crow. “We need to value difference.”
In crow's practical wisdom this means not one ideological boat but many boats full of a multitude of dreams and ideas. “We start to move at our own pace,” foresees crow. “And we help each other along but maintain our autonomy and differences as individuals, neighborhoods, communities, etc., at the same time cooperating when necessary to reach the goals.”
Organizers like crow have noticed that even corporations are starting to see things this way. “Instead of trying to centralize, they're breaking it down,” says crow. “They see networks having advantages over their traditional hierarchies. Advertising is doing this in the corporate world in what they call micro-marketing.”
Crow also wants people to stop confusing convenience and choices with democracy. This is a difficult proposition in America, a country that has trained its citizens from an early age to expect convenience. And what is voting if not the culmination of convenience culture and democracy?
“A choice of 50 different soft drinks doesn't make us any more democratic than any other country,” says crow. “Especially when those 50 soft drinks are made by five or ten companies. The same could be extrapolated to political parties. There's a perception of choice, but its not meaningful or real and definitely not democratic.”
The worker cooperative has certainly entered the popular American lexicon, but it wasn't always so. Intrigued early on by the co-op's possibilities, crow says resources and literature on the subject were sparse. So he and other Austin organizers educated themselves and just started building their own. Eventually it led to horizontalization: the process of co-ops and other services overlapping in communities. Crow has spent the last several years building horizontal worker cooperatives and consulting when he can.
“There's no boss and everyone involved makes the same wage and has the same amount of say in their futures,” says crow. “I'm interested in creating localized jobs for people with dignity, respect and a living wage. These businesses have the potential to be small scale economic engines for localized economies, where we start to close the loop in taking care of our own transportation, healthcare, cultural and educational centers in neighborhoods or communities.”
Crow envisions a community in which these services would be offered to anybody who needs them. “These services would be offered in various neighborhoods and they would start to overlap,” says crow, with enthusiasm that is contagious. “Imagine instead of big box stores taking up acres of land, there were farm stands, free health clinics or small functioning schools on every corner. Community members of all stripes could actually benefit instead of corporations and governments sucking the resources away.”
Empower the Disempowered
A certain percentage of the US population believes that the poor and disempowered can only be lifted up through tax breaks and the good auspices of job creators. While job creation has its economic and political benefits (cynically, employed populations are much more passive than its opposite), it often doesn't empower any individuals in the labor force. There is the perception of power: a wage pays the rent and all of life's necessities. Beyond that, is there any substantial and meaningful empowerment?
“At Ecology Action [a recycling co-op] we often supported the homeless people that surrounded us,” says crow. “First by not criminalizing them but treating them with dignity and respect, then by allowing other service organizations to provide services live HIV information and testing, a needle exchange (which is illegal in Austin). Third we also provided a downtown space where people could sleep after hours as long as they followed guidelines we set up with them.”
Ecology Action, as crow notes, also held meetings with the transient population and made them reinforce the guidelines amongst themselves. “We never called the cops unless severe violence was taking place,” says crow.
Crow remembers one man's empowerment in particular.
“There was this one guy who just had a streak of bad luck, who didn't have a drug or alcohol problem, and he lived on our lot for a year and volunteered,” remembers crow. “We ended up hiring him in and he worked for Ecology Action for almost 3 ½ years. His experience as a 55 year old black man, who had never heard of horizontal organizing but worked at a job where his voice counted was an eye-opening, transformational experience for all of us. When he left he said it was the best job he had ever had.
“It didn’t make us saints or saviors,” says crow. “But it was a small piece of what we could do. And it's not the only example.”
Crow points to the Occupy movement when speak of power sharing. “It was the first grassroots movement of movements in this country, very decentralized,” says crow. “I went to 24 different Occupy camps across the country last year and all of them looked very different. “But there were very similar elements to them: the ideas of participatory democracy, power sharing amongst the people, the use of affinity groups, mic checks, general assemblies and spokes council models, etc. All of those things came out of at least 20 years of anarchism and decentralized organizing in this country.”
Community organizers like crow also see small businesses as integral to real empowerment. “The real engines of this country are small business,” says crow. “Corporations have more concentrated wealth, but there are still more small businesses employing more people everywhere. Some small businesses are starting to make themselves more egalitarian.”
Crow sees a trend of sharing power and resources because it makes sense. But he's quick to point out that this is not just his myopic view. “It's happening all over the world,” says crow, thrilled by this subtle cultural revolution. “And it's happening not because of one voice but many voices.
“There's more worker cooperatives, more intentional communities, consumer cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives than ever before. They're on the rise. And what's beautiful about it is that nothing is driving it but need and necessity.”
Shift Culture, Be An Innovator
Boring, informational leaflets aren't just going to cut it any longer, says crow. Not when corporate media can tailor its advertising message to individual subcultures in communities.
“If we don't create our own counter-advertising, we're just shooting ourselves in the foot,” says crow. “Living in this present political and economic system, we must use its tools. Creating beautiful posters, books, social/web media and videos.”
There is no better advertising than creating something better, says crow. People often need “to be shown by example what it can look like,” says crow. “Make it appeal it to people. Traditional advertising is part of that. Crimethinc has been doing it for 10 years. Just Seeds Artist Cooperative and Little Black Cart press are some other groups that have developed aesthetics with knowledge.”
“Our roles as radicals of all kinds, activists and organizers is to move ideas from the margin to the mainstream—that's really what we do,” says crow, who reminds us that slavery was at one point culturally and economically embedded in America's DNA. “We would not have built this country the way we did without slavery,” says crow. “Working to abolish slavery was an act of sedition—a crazy, radical idea.” This type of cultural shift, says crow, is what is needed in America.
“We need to stop protesting and think of other ways of doing things like creative interventions and valuing aesthetics along the way,” says crow.
No Government Required
It's almost a cliché to say that it only takes a small group of people to make change in this world. But it is a cliché that crow believes in wholeheartedly.
“After Hurricane Katrina, Common Ground Collective (CGC) was one organization of many that was doing things. At the most, we had 28,000 people involved from 2005 to 2008,” says crow. “In that time we served over 150,000 families. It had a huge political, social and cultural impact not only on New Orleans but on grassroots organizations around the United States.” The life-transforming experiences of so many CGC volunteers reverberated.
“Many Occupy participants and organizers came through it,” says crow. “CGC volunteers also went to Haiti as first responders. On the East Coast, Occupy Sandy and other decentralized grassroots efforts have taken CGC's models in new directions. Occupy Sandy organizers reached out directly to some of the core CGC organizers who either went and put boots on the ground or consulted.”
Crow believes that people have more power than they can imagine.
“Change is scaleable,” says crow. “It doesn't take much for ideas to spread. Look at all the bad ideas governments and corporations have spread over the decades. Remember Crystal Pepsi or the War on Iraq?”
Experience More & Be Content Not Knowing the Answers
Not knowing all of the answers doesn't bother crow at all. He believes a community organizer or cultural innovator should be prepared to learn. Lack of answers can function as the seeds for new ideas.
“I learned from the Zapatista Revolution that as revolutionaries you don’t have to have the answers just be willing to look at and be open to possibilities,” says crow, who believes the old days of “1-2-3- steps to revolution” failed and are now dead.
“My other role as an organizer—and part time futurist—is to be an innovator to challenge our own radical assumptions and ways of engaging as well as envisioning and spreading new ideas or ways to engage,” adds crow.
“I do this because I love people and have seen for decades that we have the creativity—once we add the determination and willingness to make substantial and powerful changes, we do,” concludes crow, ever hopeful against the prospect of the unknown.
“We are always standing on the edge of potential—so how is it going to look?”
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
from The Fox Is Black
This short film/instructional video by Russian art collective FaceHeads is a simple, clever exercise in spontaneous art-making. Narrated by an anthropomorphized chunk of cardboard, Instant Face Maker details how to create a myriad of accidental characters by marking a page full of erratic lines and superimposing a set of eyes on top.
I love the way this short embraces the intuitive and accidental side of creativity. By reducing the parameters, the participants have to use their imaginations to assign meaning to the random shapes on the page. It’s surprisingly easy to do once the only context is a pair of eyes and its immediate surroundings. The human brain loves to find order in chaos. You can find more work by FaceHeads here.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
A short documentary focusing on the relationship between people and the camera. Combining interviews with NYU professor Tom Drysdale and random people on the street, the film explores the disparate ways men and women respond to being photographed and the reasons why.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Ansel Adams, Photographer (1957) - Records the life and work of Ansel Adams. Dwells on his equipment, home, interests, and his attitude toward art, photography and life.Watch DEVELOP Tube on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/developphoto and on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DEVELOPPhoto
Larry Dawson Productions, San Francisco.; International Film Bureau.
Director and photographer, David Myers; script, Nancy Newhall; commentator, Beaumont Newhall; music Don Worth.
This film was copyrighted in 1957 and was not renewed. In the U.S. films copyrighted between 1923 to 1963 are in the public domain if copyright is not renewed.
A/V Geeks' Skip Elsheimer has rescued more than 24,000 16mm educational films from landfills, dumpsters, basements and school libraries. He spent most of the nineties collecting film from school and government auctions. Skip shows the films "every chance I get and have planned various projects, to exploit their hidden celluloid riches. The (A/V Geeks at http://www.avgeeks.com/) web site is a virtual home of a very big collection."
Some of these important cultural artifacts have not been seen in over 80 years. All of these gems in the A.V Geeks archive can provide an entertaining and insightful glimpse into our past. At the time of this writing 8/12, over 700 films and videos can be watched and downloaded: http://archive.org/details/avgeeks
Tumblr feed of all the films they've digitized thus far: http://av-geeks.tumblr.com/
More on Ansel Adams: http://www.archives.gov/research/anse... and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/ansel/sf...
More on Beaumont Newhall: http://www.mocp.org/collections/perma...
DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel is an educational resource which features interviews, profiles, lectures and films about photojournalism, fine art and documentary photography.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
also check out:
I try to get myself up and moving as early as possible. Optimum is to be on the treadmill while it is still dark outside. As I plod away on my elliptical machine, I listen to music coming through two speakers, at high volume, that are aimed right at my face. I hope that this will wake me up. I cannot overstate to you how much of a morning person I am not. My incentive is that if I get to work early, I can get it all done early and be back in my own world.
In the evenings, I usually am pent up from a long day at the office. By the time the sun is setting, I want to get out and into the world. As it grows dark, I can feel setting in the melancholy that often accompanies the evening. I need noise, movement and light to stay on track and attempt to outrun my mind. I thought adulthood and middle age would greet me with a degree of calm. It didn't happen.
Over the years, I have set up a coffee route. I go to different coffee places in L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. Starbucks is a usual stop. They are plentiful and, at this point, I have developed a Pavlovian attraction to the amber lighting and interior design.
In an attempt to cover my man-without-much-happening-in-the-evenings-ness, I go to different locations, trying never to frequent one too often. I do this in hopes that the friendly people behind the counter conclude, "Hey, it's that '80s rock guy again, so cool that he comes in here now and then...," rather than, "Damn, that guy is here all the time, what a fucking psycho." There is a difference, you see. You see it, don't you? Of course you do.
So, when I am off the road and living in our fair city, I am in some coffee place for at least an hour a few nights a week. I look forward to it all through the day.
There is an indescribable optimism I feel when I walk into these places. That initial blast of warmth and coffee-filled air makes me think that anything is possible.
This is akin to the feeling I get when I walk into an office supply store. When I see all those pens and paper, all the opportunities to organize and facilitate achievement, I can almost convince myself that, if I buy a notebook, I will somehow be able to come up with enough ideas to cover all the pages in record time, maybe before I even get out of the parking lot!
With the endless fluorescent lights above, all my thoughts become REALLY LOUD and I think I will, by sheer proximity to all the items, be transformed into a virtual Bulgakov with Lautréamonticidal tendencies!
Please don't mistake this for naiveté or deeply embedded delusion -- I am far too old and mean for any of that. It's desperation, pure and simple.
When I enter the coffee place, I have the expectation of some, well, coffee and, optimistically, a cavalcade of cranial chaos, an unrelenting stream of information that is so damn powerful and important that I will be unable to stop the blur that is my left hand as it goes manically from left to right and descends down the page.
This is when life truly hums. It vibrates through my system and I am unstoppable. I cannot attain this velocity sitting in my office. I just can't. I have been writing in crowded, busy places for so long, I have co-joined environment and thought to where this is how I get it done. Being back at the office or at the house feels like motionless suspension in comparison. Like Congress.
I must say, I would rather be around caffeinated people than inebriated ones. I like seeing all those laptops open, all those devices being stared at with such concentration, all those people engaging in conversation that is not dulled by the effects of a depressant like alcohol. The bioelectricity and mechanical accoutrements is a turn-on. Seeing people engage in this way makes me think that we are going to be OK. I could be wrong about all of this in actual fact, but this is how it looks to me.
I have it in my mind that in the coffee place, there is an implied level of intellect amongst my co-caffeiniacs that would preclude violent behavior. And perhaps all those brains whirring at once will rub off on me. Valued reader, I need all the help I can get.
One of the odd enjoyments in life is to be alone in a room full of people. To have them there as unknowing human filler in your wide shot. This is where your personal listening system comes in handy. I don't use just any earbuds. I rock Shure SE535s. They are my ear bros. When the music is roaring down left and right canals, their mouths move but I am not obligated to hear what they are talking about. The music is always good, as the visual is always trippy.
This constitutes a good night out for me. I am perhaps what you would consider a lightweight.
I collect nights spent in cafes all over the world like charms on a bracelet. Saigon, Casablanca, Cairo and other destinations all have cool coffee hangouts after dark.
I listen to a lot of music in my room. However, without distraction, I am distracted, so out I go. Music for the simple joy of listening is one of life's high points, but music as the propellant for work is tapping into the mainline.
I have noticed on my coffee acquisition ops around here that I keep seeing the same people. It makes me wonder if they have these routes as well. Perhaps we silently scoff and regard each other as the losers with nowhere else to go. All I know is, as soon as you give someone the slight nod of recognition and they nod back, you are one of those people -- a regular.
Henry Rollins: The American People Kicked Your Ass, Republicans
Henry Rollins: Noise Music Is the Real Thing
Henry Rollins: Gay Marriage Is Punk Rock
Monday, February 18, 2013
2012 was a terrific year for us at The Sparrow Project, but we need your financial help to continue our campaigns into 2013. Our Spring 2013 budget is currently at a $5,800 deficit and we will need to supplement that amount with donations by people like you by April 1, 2013 in order to continue our campaigns. You can choose an amount that best fits your budget and make a one-time or recurring pledge by simply clicking on the donation box on the right side of the screen. Any donation, no matter how small or large, will help us reach our Spring 2013 goals!
With your help we are able to publicize actions and coordinate events for fledgling non-profits and grassroots groups without having to charge them!
To view case studies of a handful of our many successful projects in 2012 visit: http://www.sparrowmedia.net/case-studies/
To read an archive of our press releases for 2012 visit: http://www.sparrowmedia.net/press-releases/
The Sparrow Project specializes in giving amazing causes access to the media and attention that they deserve. We'd like to give everyone who fights for justice a similar opportunity to shine.
Love & Liberation,
Cofounder, The Sparrow Project
Sunday, February 17, 2013
This 2 minute 39 second video is the official trailer for the upcoming documentary, “Finding Vivian Maier.” It tells the story of one of the greatest photography finds in recent history, and of the brilliant work of a photographer no one had heard of just a decade ago.
In case you’ve been out of the loop on this story, here’s a brief overview. In 2007, Chicago historian John Maloof purchased a box of 30,000 prints and negatives that was sold by a storage locker, and then another lot from a fellow buyer at the same auction.
It was the work of previously unknown amateur street photographer Vivian Dorothea Maier, who worked for forty years as a nanny in Chicago. She passed away in 2009, but had compiled a body of work that weighed in at roughly 100,000 images.
After the images started being shown to the public, people discovered that the work was of the same caliber as many of the biggest names in photography. Due to the critical acclaim, the work was very quickly picked up by media outlets and also exhibited in countries around the world. In 2011, Maloof published a book on Maier’s work, titled, “Vivian Maier: Street Photographer.”
As excitement over Maier’s photography grows, Maloof is finding himself with an increasingly valuable mountain of images on his hands. He currently owns 100,000-150,000 negatives, 3,000+ vintage prints, hundreds of rolls of film, audio interviews Maier gave, original Maier cameras, and various documents.
In all, he personally owns roughly 90% of the Maier’s lifetime work. Imagine how much the collection may one day be worth if Maier’s name becomes remembered as one of the greats of American street photography.
You can view many of Maier’s photos over on the official website that was created for her after the discovery of her images.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
“The Occupy Wall Street movement may have faded from the headlines in the aftermath of the eviction of Zuccotti Park more than a year ago, but the issues that originally sparked it and the activism it inspired remain very much alive.”
This was the opening to a blog post called Who Were the 99 Percent? from co-authors of the recent study Changing The Subject: A Bottom-Up Account of Occupy Wall Street in New York City.
Regrettably, as reported by Allison Kilkenny in the Nation, many in the media have twisted the study’s findings regarding the makeup of OWS by dismissing the movement in an entirely new and spurious way: “this was a damned if they do, damned if they don’t moment for Occupy--they’re either poor, dirty hippies or the sons and daughters of the wealthy elite, but never, ever Americans exercising their First Amendment rights”.
Fortunately, we don’t need outside justification to know that ‘We Are the 99%’, and as the study depicts, nothing will extinguish the flame compelling us to speak out and inspiring us to act.
-- from the ‘Your Inbox: Occupied’ team
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
from Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds
It’s a little-known fact that James Brown hosted his own television dance show in the mid-70s. Future Shock was kind of a semi-local Atlanta/semi-syndicated imitation of Soul Train with the Godfather of Soul in the Don Cornelius role.
Future Shock was videotaped at WTCG TV studios in Atlanta before Ted Turner turned it into TBS. Most of the programs are thought to be lost now, but a few have survived. Much of what I’ve seen features the “hardest working man in show business” sweating profusely, sporting a mustache that did not suit him, rambling, slurring his words and looking like he was the hardest snorting man in show business.
“Future Shock cannot be stopped!”
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
With the news that a five-member panel of the FCC are considering creating a series of super powerful free WiFi network across America, it’s to be expected that the corporate lobbyists for the $178 billion wireless industry are already working overtime to scuttle these plans.
Conversely, according to The Washington Post, there has been an equally aggressive push coming from tech giants like Google and Microsoft for free WiFi networks “who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor”:
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.
If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, connections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public WiFi could allow many consumers to make free calls from their mobile phones via the Internet. The frugal-minded could even use the service in their homes, allowing them to cut off expensive Internet bills.
In a country where Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer and doesn’t really even pay a living wage, this sort of monthly savings for what has become a necessity of modern life would seen quite attractive for the common man. The costs are surprisingly minimal, too.
But what of the poor, put-upon media barons who won’t be able to continue sticking the masses with a monthly cell phone bill? Should the management and stockholders of AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Intel and Qualcomm be disallowed from skimming around a hundred bucks a month from the bank accounts of the average American?
Of course, the wireless telecom and cable providers are determined not to let this happen. In a January letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the architect of this ambitious plan, and a powerful member of the Obama inner circle, several major companies argued that the government should concentrate on selling the public airwaves to private business, and raising money for the US Treasury that way, rather than going with the free WiFi for all, option.
They would feel that way, wouldn’t that??? LOL.
Naturally, the Republicans are lining up behind this ridiculously blinkered, backwards “free market” approach. Who can forget watching the Tea party dolts who were against net neutrality—because someone on Fox News told them it was something “socialist,” I guess—and braying like buffoons for the privilege of being able to give more power to the telecoms, even if it would mean seeing their own monthly bills rise... because, um, THEIR FREEDUMBS were apparently at stake.
This is a different kind of free market entirely that we’re talking about, one that could alter American lives in profound ways, spurring great innovation and perhaps even unprecedented high tech job creation. The saying goes that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but free WiFi is already occurring in New York City and parts of Silicon Valley. In January, Google announced that it was providing free WiFi for NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood (where Google is headquartered in Manhattan). Soon that will extend to indoor fiber optic wiring as well. Google also rolled out high-speed fiber-optic Internet coverage recently in the Kansas City area, with download speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second. That’s pretty good. In fact it’s approximately 200 times faster than your home broadband connection. It’s not five times faster, it’s 200 times faster. (So much for innovation among the cable companies themselves, eh?)
Google’s blazing fast fiber optic service is beginning to draw hi-tech start-ups to Kansas City. Who would have thought that would happen a few years ago?
Furthermore, the major wireless carriers own far more spectrum than would even be necessary to provide public WiFi, and it would also improve their existing wireless networks for their own consumers. The only downside for this is for a relatively tiny group of stockholders. The benefits for Americans overall? Well, they seem limitless in terms of what can be imagined from 2013.
Designed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the plan would be a global first. When the U.S. government made a limited amount of unlicensed airwaves available in 1985, an unexpected explosion in innovation followed. Baby monitors, garage door openers and wireless stage microphones were created. Millions of homes now run their own wireless networks, connecting tablets, game consoles, kitchen appliances and security systems to the Internet.
“Freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free-market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future and benefits consumers,” Genachowski said in a an e-mailed statement.
He’s 1000% right. Although not seeing the economic benefits flowing upwards at first may discombobulate their tiny brains, how idiotic would even Republicans have to be not to see the logic of this decidedly free market approach? If they balk, they need to be reminded of what the earlier—but far more technologically limited, pre-PC, iPad and smartphone, of course—Reagan-era changes in the management of the public airways wrought for the economy.
This is a real us vs.against them situation. The fattest cats versus EVERYBODY ELSE. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It’s an idea that’s time has come—IF NOT, WHY NOT—and I don’t think it’s going to go away until there’s free Wifi for all. The cat’s out of the bag and it ain’t going back in.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Above: Artists Against Fracking have released a short documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox on the group’s recent tour of fracking sites in Pennsylvania. The group will air a winning TV ad from its #DontFrackNY video contest next week. Below, Yoko Ono’s new television spot in response to NY Gov. Cuomo’s silence and his upcoming Feb. 27 deadline for a decision on fracking. The ad features Ono directly addressing the Governor, a response to her unmet requests for meetings.
“Gov. Cuomo, since you haven’t met with me about the dangers of fracking, I will show you. PS: Nice to meet you, Governor,” Ono says in the ad.
"After visiting with families in Pennsylvania whose water, homes and lives have been hurt by the gas industry, I wanted to show Gov. Cuomo and the public what I saw," she says. "He must know what could happen to New Yorkers -- our air, our water, our climate -- if he allows fracking."
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
The Wrecking Crew - documentary about the famed studio musicians of the 1960s and 1970s
From "Be My Baby" to "California Girls;" "Strangers in the Night" to "Mrs. Robinson;" "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'" to "Up, Up and Away;" and from "Viva Las Vegas" to "Mr. Tambourine Man," the group dubbed The Wrecking Crew played on all of them. Six years in a row in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Grammy for "Record of the Year" went to Wrecking Crew member recordings.In LosAngeles The Wrecking Crew screening: February 9, 2013 8:00PM at Saban Theater. Buy Tickets
The Wrecking Crew, a documentary film produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of legendary late Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, has played around the world in the festival circuit with over a dozen awards and rave reviews and other accolades.
The film includes wonderful interviews with Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Roger McGuinn, Gary Lewis, Dick Clark, Al Jardine, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz as well as many of the Crew members themselves.
A labor of love by director Tedesco, the film is also ultimately a love letter to the legacy of his late father and musician friends in the Crew. Documenting the work of musicians on such iconic songs, however, can be cost -- and distribution -- prohibitive. According to the American Federation of Musicians, the film may one of the largest soundtracks of any film in history, with 131 music cues. With songs by Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds, Mamas and Papas, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys and dozens of others, the cost of licensing the music for the film is estimated at more than $300,000.
With the help of social media and donations, the film has made great progress making the release a reality where other films of this nature never make it to the public.
Please come and join us for this special screening of "The Wrecking Crew."
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The Cat wore a hat. Everyone knows that.
But so did Sam-I am, the mooing Mr. Brown and the fat fish from “One Fish, Two Fish” — a tiny yellow hat.
The Grinch disguised himself in a crinkled Santa hat.
All over Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books, his characters sport distinctive, colorful headwear — unless they are the kinds of creatures that have it sprouting naturally from their heads in tufted, multitiered and majestically flowing formations.
So it’s no surprise that the real Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a hat lover himself. He collected hundreds of them, plumed, beribboned and spiked, and kept them in a closet hidden behind a bookcase in his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He incorporated them into his personal paintings, his advertising work and his books. He even insisted that guests to his home don the most elaborate ones he could find.
“Believe me, when you get a dozen people seated at a fairly formal dinner party,” his widow, Audrey, said in an interview for an 1999 educational video, “and they’ve all got on perfectly ridiculous chapeaus, the evening takes care of itself.”
Now, as part of their efforts to keep the Seuss brand fresh in the eyes of young readers, Random House Children’s Books, his longtime publisher, and Dr. Seuss Enterprises have collaborated on an exhibit that for the first time will display some of his hats to the public.
The show, timed to the 75th anniversary of his book “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins,” will open Monday at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and then travel to 15 other locations over the course of the year. About a dozen hats will be displayed.
Paintings done by Geisel for his own enjoyment that include the hats are also part of the exhibit, but because of space constraints in New York those paintings will be shown separately at the Animazing Gallery in SoHo.
Theodor Geisel was born in 1904 in Spingfield, Mass., at a time when hats were a much more common part of a man’s wardrobe. Still, Geisel, who was something of an iconoclast and prankster, enjoyed them more than most, largely because of their costumelike quality.
During a brief time studying at Oxford University, he wore a cap. As he traveled to 30 or so countries in his 20s, he wore a Panama hat. It was then that he started his collection.
After his sister Marnie returned from visiting him in the autumn of 1937, The Springfield Union-News quoted her as reporting: “Ted has another peculiar hobby — that of collecting hats of every description. Why, he must have several hundred, and he is using them as the foundation of his next book.” She added, “I have seen him put on an impromptu show for guests, using the hats as costumes,” and “he has kept a whole party in stitches just by making up a play with kitchen knives and spoons for the actors.”
Robert Chase, co-founder and president of Chase Art Companies, which represents modern and contemporary artists, is the curator of the hat exhibit. He said the hats showed up early in the advertising work and editorial cartoons of Geisel, who died in 1991. “By putting a hat on a character” Geisel “realized he could give that character a lot of personality,” Mr. Chase said. “In some cases the hat became a punch line.”
In one of the humorous ads he did for the insecticide Flit, for example, Geisel showed a mosquito busting a hole through a surprised woman’s tiny flower-decorated hat. The ad helped jump start his career as a commercial artist and copywriter and became part of one of the longest-running campaigns in advertising history, built around the line “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”
While hats in Mr. Geisel’s personal collection clearly make appearances in his paintings, it is harder to draw a straight line from his hat collections to his children’s books, Mr. Chase said, although there are examples of where the connection is clear.
The collection does feature a red Robin Hood-like cap with feather that is exactly like the one that kept reappearing on Bartholomew Cubbins’s head. A tall blue military cap with red yarn balls that is also in the show under the name Triple Sling Jigger, seems to have been the inspiration for a hat in “The Butter Battle Book,” Mr. Chase said.
Then there is the striped, red-and-white stovepipe hat that is clearly the twin of the one worn by the most famous, mischievous cat of them all. Mr. Chase said he has no documentation as to which came first — the hat on display or the illustrated one in “The Cat in the Hat.”
But even when the hats in the collection did not directly inspire the drawings in the books, they certainly seemed to inspire the man. The exhibit quotes from a book called “Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel” to illustrate how this sometimes worked:
As editor in chief of Beginner Books at Random House in the late 1960s, Michael Frith worked closely with Geisel, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. When they were stumped by a word choice, Mr. Frith said, Geisel would often bound to the closet and grab a hat for each of them — a sombrero, or perhaps a fez. There they would be, sitting on the floor, Mr. Frith remembered, “two grown men in stupid hats trying to come up with the right word for a book that had only 50 words in it at most.”
PLEASE read my previous Dr. Seuss post
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books). The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]
Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?
The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources -- the main concern of U.S. planners -- have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.
Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.
The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism -- mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.
Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, U.S. policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining.
Declining because of economic weakness?
Partly because the world is just becoming more diverse. It has more diverse power centers. At the end of the Second World War, the United States was absolutely at the peak of its power. It had half the world’s wealth and every one of its competitors was seriously damaged or destroyed. It had a position of unimaginable security and developed plans to essentially run the world -- not unrealistically at the time.
This was called “Grand Area” planning?
Yes. Right after the Second World War, George Kennan, head of the U.S. State Department policy planning staff, and others sketched out the details, and then they were implemented. What’s happening now in the Middle East and North Africa, to an extent, and in South America substantially goes all the way back to the late 1940s. The first major successful resistance to U.S. hegemony was in 1949. That’s when an event took place, which, interestingly, is called “the loss of China.” It’s a very interesting phrase, never challenged. There was a lot of discussion about who is responsible for the loss of China. It became a huge domestic issue. But it’s a very interesting phrase. You can only lose something if you own it. It was just taken for granted: we possess China -- and if they move toward independence, we’ve lost China. Later came concerns about “the loss of Latin America,” “the loss of the Middle East,” “the loss of” certain countries, all based on the premise that we own the world and anything that weakens our control is a loss to us and we wonder how to recover it.
Today, if you read, say, foreign policy journals or, in a farcical form, listen to the Republican debates, they’re asking, “How do we prevent further losses?”
On the other hand, the capacity to preserve control has sharply declined. By 1970, the world was already what was called tripolar economically, with a U.S.-based North American industrial center, a German-based European center, roughly comparable in size, and a Japan-based East Asian center, which was then the most dynamic growth region in the world. Since then, the global economic order has become much more diverse. So it’s harder to carry out our policies, but the underlying principles have not changed much.
Take the Clinton doctrine. The Clinton doctrine was that the United States is entitled to resort to unilateral force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” That goes beyond anything that George W. Bush said. But it was quiet and it wasn’t arrogant and abrasive, so it didn’t cause much of an uproar. The belief in that entitlement continues right to the present. It’s also part of the intellectual culture.
Right after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, amid all the cheers and applause, there were a few critical comments questioning the legality of the act. Centuries ago, there used to be something called presumption of innocence. If you apprehend a suspect, he’s a suspect until proven guilty. He should be brought to trial. It’s a core part of American law. You can trace it back to Magna Carta. So there were a couple of voices saying maybe we shouldn’t throw out the whole basis of Anglo-American law. That led to a lot of very angry and infuriated reactions, but the most interesting ones were, as usual, on the left liberal end of the spectrum. Matthew Yglesias, a well-known and highly respected left liberal commentator, wrote an article in which he ridiculed these views. He said they’re “amazingly naive,” silly. Then he expressed the reason. He said that “one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers.” Of course, he didn’t mean Norway. He meant the United States. So the principle on which the international system is based is that the United States is entitled to use force at will. To talk about the United States violating international law or something like that is amazingly naive, completely silly. Incidentally, I was the target of those remarks, and I’m happy to confess my guilt. I do think that Magna Carta and international law are worth paying some attention to.
I merely mention that to illustrate that in the intellectual culture, even at what’s called the left liberal end of the political spectrum, the core principles haven’t changed very much. But the capacity to implement them has been sharply reduced. That’s why you get all this talk about American decline. Take a look at the year-end issue of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal. Its big front-page cover asks, in bold face, “Is America Over?” It’s a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything. If you believe you should have everything and anything gets away from you, it’s a tragedy, the world is collapsing. So is America over? A long time ago we “lost” China, we’ve lost Southeast Asia, we’ve lost South America. Maybe we’ll lose the Middle East and North African countries. Is America over? It’s a kind of paranoia, but it’s the paranoia of the superrich and the superpowerful. If you don’t have everything, it’s a disaster.
TheNew York Timesdescribes the “defining policy quandary of the Arab Spring: how to square contradictory American impulses that include support for democratic change, a desire for stability, and wariness of Islamists who have become a potent political force.” TheTimesidentifies three U.S. goals. What do you make of them?
Two of them are accurate. The United States is in favor of stability. But you have to remember what stability means. Stability means conformity to U.S. orders. So, for example, one of the charges against Iran, the big foreign policy threat, is that it is destabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. How? By trying to expand its influence into neighboring countries. On the other hand, we “stabilize” countries when we invade them and destroy them.
I’ve occasionally quoted one of my favorite illustrations of this, which is from a well-known, very good liberal foreign policy analyst, James Chace, a former editor of Foreign Affairs. Writing about the overthrow of the Salvador Allende regime and the imposition of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1973, he said that we had to “destabilize” Chile in the interests of “stability.” That’s not perceived to be a contradiction -- and it isn’t. We had to destroy the parliamentary system in order to gain stability, meaning that they do what we say. So yes, we are in favor of stability in this technical sense.
Concern about political Islam is just like concern about any independent development. Anything that’s independent you have to have concern about because it might undermine you. In fact, it’s a little ironic, because traditionally the United States and Britain have by and large strongly supported radical Islamic fundamentalism, not political Islam, as a force to block secular nationalism, the real concern. So, for example, Saudi Arabia is the most extreme fundamentalist state in the world, a radical Islamic state. It has a missionary zeal, is spreading radical Islam to Pakistan, funding terror. But it’s the bastion of U.S. and British policy. They’ve consistently supported it against the threat of secular nationalism from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt and Abd al-Karim Qasim’s Iraq, among many others. But they don’t like political Islam because it might become independent.
The first of the three points, our yearning for democracy, that’s about on the level of Joseph Stalin talking about the Russian commitment to freedom, democracy, and liberty for the world. It’s the kind of statement you laugh about when you hear it from commissars or Iranian clerics, but you nod politely and maybe even with awe when you hear it from their Western counterparts.
If you look at the record, the yearning for democracy is a bad joke. That’s even recognized by leading scholars, though they don’t put it this way. One of the major scholars on so-called democracy promotion is Thomas Carothers, who is pretty conservative and highly regarded -- a neo-Reaganite, not a flaming liberal. He worked in Reagan’s State Department and has several books reviewing the course of democracy promotion, which he takes very seriously. He says, yes, this is a deep-seated American ideal, but it has a funny history. The history is that every U.S. administration is “schizophrenic.” They support democracy only if it conforms to certain strategic and economic interests. He describes this as a strange pathology, as if the United States needed psychiatric treatment or something. Of course, there’s another interpretation, but one that can’t come to mind if you’re a well-educated, properly behaved intellectual.
Within several months of the toppling of [President Hosni] Mubarak in Egypt, he was in the dock facing criminal charges and prosecution. It’s inconceivable that U.S. leaders will ever be held to account for their crimes in Iraq or beyond. Is that going to change anytime soon?
That’s basically the Yglesias principle: the very foundation of the international order is that the United States has the right to use violence at will. So how can you charge anybody?
And no one else has that right.
Of course not. Well, maybe our clients do. If Israel invades Lebanon and kills a thousand people and destroys half the country, okay, that’s all right. It’s interesting. Barack Obama was a senator before he was president. He didn’t do much as a senator, but he did a couple of things, including one he was particularly proud of. In fact, if you looked at his website before the primaries, he highlighted the fact that, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, he cosponsored a Senate resolution demanding that the United States do nothing to impede Israel’s military actions until they had achieved their objectives and censuring Iran and Syria because they were supporting resistance to Israel’s destruction of southern Lebanon, incidentally, for the fifth time in 25 years. So they inherit the right. Other clients do, too.
But the rights really reside in Washington. That’s what it means to own the world. It’s like the air you breathe. You can’t question it. The main founder of contemporary IR [international relations] theory, Hans Morgenthau, was really quite a decent person, one of the very few political scientists and international affairs specialists to criticize the Vietnam War on moral, not tactical, grounds. Very rare. He wrote a book called The Purpose of American Politics. You already know what’s coming. Other countries don’t have purposes. The purpose of America, on the other hand, is “transcendent”: to bring freedom and justice to the rest of the world. But he’s a good scholar, like Carothers. So he went through the record. He said, when you study the record, it looks as if the United States hasn’t lived up to its transcendent purpose. But then he says, to criticize our transcendent purpose “is to fall into the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds” -- which is a good comparison. It’s a deeply entrenched religious belief. It’s so deep that it’s going to be hard to disentangle it. And if anyone questions that, it leads to near hysteria and often to charges of anti-Americanism or “hating America” -- interesting concepts that don’t exist in democratic societies, only in totalitarian societies and here, where they’re just taken for granted.
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. ATomDispatch regular , he is the author of numerous best-selling political works, including recentlyHopes and Prospects  andMaking the Future . This piece is adapted from the chapter “Uprisings” in his newest book (with interviewer David Barsamian),Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (The American Empire Project , Metropolitan Books).
Excerpted fromPower Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, published this month by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright (c) 2013 by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian. All rights reserved.
© 2013 TomDispatch. All rights reserved.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Human, All Too Human was a BBC television documentary that originally aired in 1999. Taking its title from Nietzsche’s book of aphorisms Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, the three-part series covers the lives and work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. Although biographies, the overall theme was an exploration of the philosophy of Existentialism, as developed by these radical European thinkers.
The final episode, The Road to Freedom, focused on Sartre, whose name, of course, is synonymous with Existentialism. Sartre thought that it was up to each of us to create meaning and purpose in our lives in a Godless universe and the film—one of the only (if not the only) film about Sartre made in English—includes interviews with his life partner, feminist novelist and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir.