Friday Night Fun and Culture

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina swept down upon New Orleans destroying places like the Lower Ninth Ward.  Destroying the birthplace of one of America’s greatest cultural treasures, Jazz…

In the aftermath the corporations engaged in a concerted effort to Disneyfy New Orleans the same way they did Times Square. Whiten it up.  Keep the poor be they black or white from returning and in exchange for getting rid of the noise and the funkiness they would Starbuck it and chain restaurant it in to the same bland corporate America that has destroyed this country.  Homogenized and pasteurized, plasticized and pre-packages for your comfort and consumption.

We saw the two posters below at a Gallery in Memphis when we went to the Media Reform Conference and while the Gallery was closed I was able to track down signed copies.

The vibrancy is returning to New Orleans.  I urge everyone to watch the series ‘Treme on HBO

Photo by Suzan Cooke.. Dr. John at Lakewood Theater Dallas Tx 8/19/210

An for a little taste of the Doctor…..

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When Media Giants Wed: NOT a Feminist Love Story

From NOW Media Alerts

August 20, 2010

By Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

When big media companies merge or partner it’s rarely a good thing. Sure, it might be profitable for those at the top and stockholders. But generally it’s bad news for the little people — otherwise known as their viewers, listeners, readers and users.

Why is this a feminist issue? Because the ever-increasing consolidation of media ownership means fewer and fewer people decide what you and I have access to through our TVs, PCs, mobile phones, radios, newspapers, etc. Having just a few big conglomerates in control of our communication, news and entertainment options makes it that much harder for new and independent providers to compete. What we’re left with is a landscape of limited viewpoints and voices, newly erected roadblocks and higher prices. Try getting a feminist message out when the big-moneyed ranks are closing in and tightening their grip.

We’ve got two such potential calamities on our hands right now. First up is Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC-Universal. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are reviewing the proposed merger, which would be “the largest consolidation of media power in American history” according to Washington, D.C.’s NewsChannel 8, which ran a multi-page ad in Politico on behalf of local news consumers across the U.S.

In addition to the tens of millions of cable customers and Internet users it already boasts, Comcast would take control of the NBC network, 10 local NBC affiliates in major markets, 16 Spanish-language stations, numerous top-tier cable networks, a wealth of original TV programming and movies from Universal Studios.

NOW is part of The Coalition for Competition in the Media, which has expressed vocal opposition to the buyout. Others concerned about the deal include Bloomberg and the American Cable Association.

Corie Wright, policy counsel for Free Press, explains it like this: “In its current form, this proposed merger suffers from a sizeable public interest deficit. If this merger is allowed to go through, consumers will have less, not more choice, especially if they seek access to independent or diverse voices. It will mean less innovation in the emerging market for online video, fewer local voices and diminished media diversity.”

At the same time, media giants Google and Verizon are entering into a dangerous dance of their own. Just last night, at a public hearing in Minneapolis on the future of the Internet, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had this to say: “I believe that net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time.”

What is net neutrality? Quite simply, it’s the principle that protects choice of content and equal opportunity on the Internet. Net neutrality levels the playing field by promoting the widest possible dissemination of speech. But there are no explicit laws enforcing net neutrality, and this latest venture puts the principle at risk. As Google was once a solid defender of net neutrality while Verizon was not, this partnership is terribly discouraging.

Earlier this month the two companies put forth a joint proposal suggesting a legislative framework they admit is a “compromise” on net neutrality. The compromise is focused on the wireless market, just as more and more people are accessing the Internet via their cell phones and other mobile devices.

What we could end up with is a “tiered” wireless Internet, with some content delivered to our cell phones at a faster speed courtesy of content providers that are able to pay for preferential service. NOW has been warning that a plan like this could hurt non-profit organizations and others lacking the same deep pockets as big corporations. The beauty of the open Internet has made it possible for NOW to connect with so many people and to help them, in turn, connect with their elected officials and with each other. Unlike traditional media, the Internet makes it affordable and relatively simple to educate and empower millions. Is that all about to change?

As we’ve seen with the Wall Street and oil disasters, big companies cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. In the quest for greater profits and market domination, it’s usually the consumers who suffer. The media industry is no exception. The stakes are high, and we’re not just talking about your ability to watch Glee or download your favorite tunes — we’re talking about the ability to cultivate an effective movement for women’s rights and secure equality for all. It really is that important.

Make sure you’re signed up for NOW’s action alerts, so you’ll receive furture emails on this issue

Read more about NOW’s work on media issues

Are Muslims Replacing Queers as America’s New Scapegoat?

Thought for the day and maybe forever:  “The left wing and progressives have always stood for inclusion and equality. The right wing and conservatives have always stood for exclusion and elitism/inequality.”

I’m an Atheist and therefore freedom of religion is important to me since the very concept implicitly includes the freedom to not believe.

I was a child in the “good old days” of the 1950s which were good only if you were white, right and well to do and what we described as WASP.

To be queer was so outre as to be sufficient reason to be driven from small town America to seek ones life in the ghettos around America where we could find a modicum of acceptance among “liberal and sophisticated people” described as artistic.  Indeed queer was considered so taboo that they describe LGBT/TQ kids as “sensitive” rather than as queer.

Racism and anti-Semitism were alive and well and anyone who said either were wrong was a “Goddamned Red”.

They also had choice name for people whose ethnic back grounds didn’t conform to the WASP ideal were were being programmed to think of being “normal”.

It was a time when using racial and ethnic slurs was widely accepted.  People who argued for politeness of language were not being “politically correct”, they were “Goddamned Reds”.

The charge of  “Political Correctness” has been cut loose from its founding root in the left wing communities where it was used as ironic chastisement for people who were getting carried away with their own superior level of consciousness.  When it used by right wing it is an euphemistic way of calling someone a “Goddamned Red”.

But heaven forbid one point out to the right wing that their ideology bears a great deal more resemblance to something found in Nazism than in the US Constitution.

They wrap themselves in the flag and wave a Bible in your face while wiping their asses with the Constitution.  In the world according to the right wing the US is a “Christian Nation” and the Constitution only has one amendment, the Second Amendment.

I was a child of the 1950 but I came of age in the 1960s.  Oh wasn’t that a time?  To be young and radical meant hearing everyone’s call for equality and social justice.  It didn’t much matter to those of us who read Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath as high school students and were so moved as to take Tom Joad’s soliloquy to heart.

Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there . . . . I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’-I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there.

From Wikipedia:

At the time of publication, Steinbeck’s novel “was a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read.” [5] Steinbeck scholar John Timmerman sums up the book’s impact: “The Grapes of Wrath may well be the most thoroughly discussed novel – in criticism, reviews, and college classrooms – of twentieth century American literature.” Part of its impact stemmed from its passionate depiction of the plight of the poor, and in fact, many of Steinbeck’s contemporaries attacked his social and political views. Bryan Cordyack writes, “Steinbeck was attacked as a propagandist and a socialist from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. The most fervent of these attacks came from the Associated Farmers of California; they were displeased with the book’s depiction of California farmers’ attitudes and conduct toward the migrants. They denounced the book as a ‘pack of lies’ and labeled it ‘communist propaganda’.[6] However, although Steinbeck was accused of exaggeration of the camp conditions to make a political point, in fact he had done the opposite, underplaying the conditions that he well knew were worse than the novel describes[7] because he felt exact description would have gotten in the way of his story. Furthermore, there are several references to socialist politics and questions which appear in the John Ford film of 1940 which do not appear in the novel, which is less political in its terminology and interests.

I’m watching the hysteria being whipped up by the right wing and the cowardly acquiescence of so many in the Democratic Party who seem more concerned with acting like good Germans by not rocking the boat and I think this is how something like the Third Reich happened.

People were too afraid to say, “No, this is wrong.  Too afraid to not join the lynching mob.”

Yesterday I quoted  Pastor Martin Niemöller . Last night Tina and I went to see Jr. John and the Lower 911. In one of their songs they inserted a song I used to sing on special occasion when I faced the thugs in blue with their clubs and Mace, “I shall not, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree standing by the water, I shall not be moved..”

I wasn’t Black, yet I stood for African American Civil Rights.

They were never going to draft me, yet I opposed the draft.

I was not a Native American yet I supported AIM

I was not a Chicano migrant farm worker, yet I supported the United Farm Workers

I am not Muslim (Indeed I find their religion among the most misogynistic of all religions and abhorrent on many levels),, yet I support their constitutional right to freedom to practice their beliefs.

The scapegoating of Muslims and blaming the entire world of people who practice Islam for the acts of 18 people who committed 9/11 is ugly, stupid and ridiculous.

Let them have their cultural center and their equal rights.

The memory of LGBT/TQ people having to fight various city halls for the rights to open and maintain our community and cultural centers is to fresh for me to join the lynching mob.

It appears as though beating up on Muslim people has become the new sport of the right, replacing LGBT/TQ bashing.  Or perhaps it has just momentarily supplanted it.

It is all the same hatred that is the stock and trade of the right wing.  Do not be fooled if it puts on a different mask.

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Franken tells FCC: Without ‘Net Neutrality’, a ‘handful’ of corporations will control the Web

From Raw Story:

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, August 19th, 2010 — 6:58 pm

Since his election in the nail-bitingly close campaign against former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, former Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken has emerged as one of the strongest voices in favor of so-called “Net Neutrality” policies being considered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Franken has called “Net Neutrality” the most pressing free speech issue in modern day America, and supports policies which would require Internet service providers to treat all legal traffic equally.

Speaking Thursday evening before an FCC public hearing on “Net Neutrality,” Franken insisted that the U.S. government cannot allow companies to write the rules by which they’ll later be forced to play.

“We don’t just have a constitution problem here, we have a First Amendment problem, okay?” he said.

Continue reading at:

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