The grey suit in NXNW [1959/2017)

Maybe.

After many long years.

I finally got a decent suit.

But the pinnacle is still Cary Grant in North by Northwest.

Perhaps more important than Dorothy’s slippers.

The grey suit.

Gray?  Grey.

Because Archibald Leach (Grant’s real name) was from Bristol.

Now.

The debate rages on.

Was it Norton & Sons (Savile Row) or Quintino (Beverly Hills)?

And this is a very important matter.

Basis in fact.

Innocent lives are at stake here.

Vanity Fair (at least they employed Tosches for a time) contends it was a British suit.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/03/behindthescenes200803

But The Independent counters that it was an American (Beverly Hills) tailor.

My first thought is always The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (novel 1955, film 1956).

1959.

Something in the air.

Advertising.

Madison.

Shopping.

5th.

Whatever you do, don’t buy a property at 666 5th Avenue.

Mr. Kushner made that mistake.

Can you change an address?

Can we inch the building over a bit?

666 1/2?

But finally, that eternal quote of Mike Ruppert:

“The CIA is Wall Street.  Wall Street is the CIA.”

What could all this mean?

What could ANY of this mean?

It’s well-known.

But the real danger is Finnegans Wake.

Is it unpredictability?

The real danger is changing stripes.

Spots.

Markings.

Camouflage.

A mask.

My daily trousers are sweatpants.

And then we must bring in Erik Satie.

As dangerous (harmless) a man as ever lived.

The “Velvet Gentleman”.

Seven gray velvet suits.  All identical.  One for each day of the week.

A revolution in simplicity.

But there are many, many hours of piano music to wade through.

Through which.

It’s not just the Gymnopédies.

Or even the Gnossiennes.

SS.

It’s a veritable Voynich manuscript of eccentricity.

Quixotic.

Mercurial.

Bizarre!

But with Magritte we got the grey bowler.

And Max Ernst:  “The hat makes the man.”

But did he say it in English?

Not bloody likely!

And so rail-thin Cary Grant, almost certainly homosexual, looks stunning…dapper…a paragon of class in North by Northwest.

And it is a rare time where I (and many other men) say:  “Wow…I want that business suit!”

Because I didn’t grow up rich.

And it took me till age 40 to get a passable sack.

Brooks Brothers was expensive.

Still is.

I’m low-rent.

High-brow.

A conundrum.

I don’t want to sell oil.

I’m a city boy.

They won’t take me on the farm.

So what am I?

Do I ride around on a horse?

Do I spit tobacco into a cuspidor?

[not anymore]

We must go away.  To come back.  And see for the first time.

What was Jia Zhangke talking about?

Or from?

The I Ching?

Or some Zen text?

Advertising.

Memetics.

Messaging.

COMMUNICATIONS

We are drawn to the suit.

The breezy ease with which Cary Grant negotiates New York sidewalk traffic.

Every remark quick.

Never at a loss for words.

And the characters all pay attention.

From Martin Landau to Eva Marie Saint:  menswear.

Three buttons.

[a detail I missed…too late]

Buttons on cuffs.

Cufflinks.

Two-piece.

The most remarkable aspect, though, might be the “grey suit with grey tie” effect.

I mean, “what the fuck”?!?

It is slightly “off”.

Not the color-matching.

That’s fine.

But the concept.

Or this hypothetical exchange:

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Gray.”

“Gray?”

“Yeah, I don’t know…I just like gray.”

“What about it do you like?”

“I don’t know…it’s sorta mysterious?”

“Ok…but, I mean, it seems sorta drab, don’t you think?”

“Well, I’m not in the market for a gray bikini…”

Ah!

There’s the gender.

Men.

Do men fancy grey?

Is it one of the colors they’ve been “given”?

And women.

Do they really fancy pink?

I suppose some diabolical seamstress has plotted the complementary colors of all the world’s hetero couples.

Grey and pink.

Pink and green.

Orange and blue.

Red and green.

Purple and yellow.

Ad absurdum.

All I can say is this.

I feel spectacular in my new gray suit.

I’m a little closer to Daniel Craig, though mostly in the Cary Grant body type.

Or, put differently, I’m an extremely-poor-man’s Daniel Craig 🙂

I, too, would look scrawny next to James Bond.

Which segues nicely into the 007 franchise.

Suits…again.

Whether in Jamaica or parts unknown.

The sartorial fastidiousness would play a major role in framing Bond as “not just another guy”.

Taste.

An eye for detail.

Quality.

And personality, though understated.

The grey suit.

It the biggest weapon in my fashion arsenal (as of today).

And thus we turn towards commerce.

Another run, perhaps, of job searching.

Selling myself.

But at a certain point you just gotta say, “Fuck it!”

I’m a cool person.

I ain’t out to hurt nobody.

I read books.

Big fucking books.

About math and shit like that.

I’m a nerd to the nth power.

I know that.

And I’m fine with that.

Because I see the value in that.

So now I may have to bludgeon the HR receptors with a whole new level of qualifications.

Can I do it?

Can I be a lawyer?

Can I be a PhD?

[notably, perhaps, in advertising]

And beyond.

Because life has led me to this impasse.

We worry about bread on the table.

And some milk to stay healthy.

Heat in the winter.

Cooling in the summer.

Most of all…in all this mess of writing…I am thankful.

Thankful for a chance.  A chance to do the right things.

And thankful for family.  Thankful for time.

Thankful for intuition.

And thankful for failure.

Have your cake.  Or eat it.

Thank you, my friends…for your support.

I am happy today.  Hard day, as always.

And I pray the good happenings for each of you…in your lives…

-PD

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? [2000)

This is a damn fine film.

Maybe yesterday I would have spoke as much with a mouthful of tobacco.

But today I take a more measured approach.

And still I must proclaim:  this film has aged like a fine wine.

I can find little fault with it.

No film will express all that we hold inside…exactly as we’d express it.

And so this is as close as we get to serendipity on a Tuesday night 🙂

Yes sir…let me tell you ’bout it.

I write to stay alive.

[now I’m telling you about me…or the film…by way of me]

We come from a long/short tradition.

Film critics.

Critics.

All the way back to the earliest Homer in the Greek.

Rage.

I owe Nick Tosches a debt of gratitude for pointing that out.

My favorite living writer.

This film [we’re back to the film] could have gone off the rails early on.

Like some errant Ken Burns pablum on PBS.

But the Coen brothers are of the most deft cinematic touch.

I have delved very little into their oeuvre.

Most recently I broached the subject with Fargo (a fine film), but Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? is a bona fide 😉 masterpiece.

You see, you must be conversant in naïveté as much as in erudition.

You must run the gamut from Delmar to Ulysses in order to evoke an appropriately universal sampling of the human condition.

Blind on a Pullman.  Nay.  Blind Sheriff Murnau.  Closer.

Blind but now I see.

Precisely.

Bill Moyers couldn’t get to Shakespeare in the recessed library.

Only God could move fate.

To see beauty.

For a moment to dream of a better life.

Saved from cancer.

I know not.

We feel it’s Isaiah.  Or the Oracle of Delphi.

Pythia.  As in pithy.

Icy.

You don’t get credit for half a master’s degree.

Ain’t no one in the world impressed by that.

Even if they should.

People like awards.  Bob Dylan said.

Grammys.  Nobels.

Sells records.  Books.  DVDs.  Tickets for admission.  Memorabilia.

But I doff my hat to Tosches and Quintilian.

We are all excursus.  As Céline was all ellipses.

[…]

The Sheriff is Cooley.  As in Spade.

A mean son of a bitch.

But we don’t care none about these transgressors no more.

The electorate has spoken.

50 states.

From the words Tommy Johnson.

It’s just a cool drink of water from Robert.

And we won’t even get into Lonnie.

We hear the devil is white.

Go to any American university and you will hear the same.

Indeed, our film only falters when it attempts to be too heavy-handed.

We uncloak what is cloaked in ourselves.

And this is the curse of critics.

No critic is writing about their subject.

In reality.

The underlying gist is always autobiography.

To admit as much should be refreshing.

But that is for you to decide.

Just sing into the can.

Voice your opinion.

On shellac.

For generations to plunder in treasure hunts of old South junk stores.

Searching for the Sugar Man/Soggy Bottom…Robert Johnson already dead when he became   sought after.

A prophet in his own land.

All is dream.  And religion comes to the silver screen.

The common man can relate.  And so can I.

With my Bible on my nightstand.

I ain’t ashamed to say.

I depend on God.

See Messiaen if you need abstraction.

Because Debussy gave the clouds first…and the sirens last.

And feasts or parties in between.

Night swimming.  Nocturnes.  Campfires.  Skip James.

Pulled from routine.

We were nearly eaten alive.

And we would have dived into that abyss out of desperation.

Yet the hand of the Lord was upon us.

Not for any deed which had ingratiated ourselves to Him.

But for grace.

Mercy.

Love.

No horror here.  Just a toad.  And Mark Twain.

And how to keep tobacco dry on a Mississippi River boat.

Uncle Sweetheart smells blood.

Years before Masked and Anonymous.

So be careful not to fall in love with your own reflection.

She said he was hit by a train.

And she looked good in a bikini.

To three pathetic roustabouts with no prospects.

Chewed up and spit out by both Tropics to wade in the water of possibility.

Nerds can box.

Maybe know an arcane martial art.

Don’t fuck with us.

But protagonists of epic poetry need something more than a couple of jabs and pinches.

Circumstances must have placed them in a true imbroglio…the mother of all situations.

The Gordian knot.

Ulysses is a lying bastard.  A mad man.  Advertising.  Op side coin propaganda.

But these are skills.  For gainful employment.  And we hover to ethics for guidance.

On how to wield words in the age of microblogging and memes.

He needed a story.

Chained together.

An inspiration.

Because we’re (for all intents and purposes) inseparable.

We can dream of $500,000 ($400,000)…as the “major D”…even the mâitre’d…if we’re feeling saucy.

Dream of land.

But what was Everett’s dream?

We know only later.

To spend 84 years in jail.

Released:  1987.

Incarcerated at age 3?

Not counting on these two to do the taxes.

The KKK took his baby away.  –Joey Ramone

Seems very Bohemian Grove.

But we don’t know these things.

We only know what we’ve gleaned from D.W. Griffith.

These synchronized David Dukes are meant to evoke a temple of doom.

It is the hinge (brisure) in the whole film (if we are doing a deconstructionist reading à la Derrida).

And thus auteur theory is vindicated.

Joel Coen had something to get off his chest regarding the treatment of blacks, JEWS, Catholics, etc.

We could deconstruct from there.

It’s easy.

Top psychiatrist Steve Pieczenik does it breezily when he traces Jill Stein back to her Jewish Chicago roots which give her the privilege to run as an agnostic.

But the Coen brothers are timeless artists here.

They have found the trick.

Hillary’s coven must have been on hiatus for the past few weeks.

Demoralized.

But it’s hard to fight back the tears as they get in front of that lozenge mic I’d associate with RCA…

As the Soggy Bottom Boys emerge from obscurity.

And they have a fan base (constituents).

And these mythical performers were not even confirmed to exist.

In the flesh.

Ah, but public relations…

He was proto- “drain the swamp” with his little man and broom.

But the planets shifted.

And he’s on a hot mic inserting both feet into his mouth, one at a time, very slowly, with each succeeding word.

The way politics works.

In Mississippi.  Louisiana.  Texas.

Suck on a cigar.  Think it over.  Maybe some cognac or brandy.

And seize upon an opportunity.

To hire the best.

The best who have appeared on this stage at this moment for this very reason.

Three years after Titanic and the Coen brothers wanted a weightless freak show of inanimate objects floating as Japanese melange symbolism.

I am the man with the can.  Not Dapper Dan.  And no record-cutting lathe.

Just a tin of tobacco.  My floating life.  And all we’ve been through.

Memory soup.

We pull up to the aquarium to peer into the mysteries of other realities.

And, by so doing, try to make sense out of our own.

-PD

Trump vs. Clinton, October 19 [2016)

As I write this, the United States is undergoing a soft (so far) coup d’état and, thank God, a countercoup (also soft…so far).

There are no tanks in the streets.  No physical bridges closed.  But the competing coups are very real and in progress at this time.

This might be hard for my international readers to wrap their heads around.

Likewise, my domestic readers (if there are any) are perhaps equally perplexed by the statements I’ve just made.

For different reasons, these two audiences (my dear readers) have probably not heard ANYTHING about this coup.

And yet I am not exercising hyperbole.

You WON’T hear anything about these competing coups in the media of the “new world order” (or, more accurately, the “old world order”).

Nothing on the BBC.  Nothing from AFP.  Maybe (maybe) something from Russian or Chinese or Iranian sources.  Maybe something from North Korea.

As for the US, there is a complete blackout on all the major channels of media communication concerning this digital coup taking place.

WikiLeaks is very much a part of it.  But even more so, it is the globalist Clinton cabal against a very brave movement seemingly spearheaded by US military intelligence.

I cannot claim to understand exactly what is going on.

But Hillary Clinton is being warned by the US intelligence community and US military to stand down.

Meaning, she has been warned publicly that the game is up.

The main spokesman of the countercoup has been the extremely brave and wise Dr. Steve Pieczenik.

And so, dear readers, you might be able (from this) to fathom just why I have decided to write once again on this Presidential election.

There are no more debates.

The third and final one.

In what is turning out to be an American revolution.

While moderator Chris Wallace was not perfect (he grilled Trump just as the transparently partisan previous moderators had), he did a generally passable job here.

Hillary got the first question.

Clinton:  “You know, I think when we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election.”

Translation:  “I know you don’t like me (and that includes my ‘voters’), but just remember that without me you won’t get to have abortions any more.  AND…you won’t have someone to take the guns away from the rednecks.  So vote for me, even though you hate me.  Thank you.”

Clinton:  “And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people. Not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy.”

Hahahahaha….ahhhhhhh…this lady cracks me up!  The hubris!!!

Hillary then speaks of “dark, unaccountable money”:  something on which she’s an expert.

And that, my friends, is at the heart of the countercoup.

As I write, Hillary Clinton is under so much investigation by the FBI (including the Clinton Foundation) it’s not even funny.

Hillary punctuates her sermon with “That’s how I see the court.,” but there might be another court she’ll be seeing very soon (one which is trying HER).

Hillary’s self-righteous proclamation of “standing up to the powerful” is absolute bollocks.

She continues, “I would hope that the Senate would do its job…”.

This lady is one to talk!  Look at the “job” SHE did as Secretary of State!!!

Unbelievable that her Janus routine is so seemingly effortless.

Hillary says that the Senate’s job is to, “…confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them.”  Actually, that’s one of two options…of “doing their job”.  And by not even getting to that fork in the decision tree, the Senate is saying (regarding Obama’s nominee), “Hell no!”.

But in Hillary’s world, peons like the Senate just “confirm”.  They don’t question.  They just take orders.

Well, not for long…Hillary.

Trump:  “Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people.”

Yes, we all hope Ruth Bader quits.  It would only be fair, seeing as how Scalia was most likely whacked down on the Texas border.

Hillary almost breaks into fake Southern drawl when she feigns respect for the Second Amendment:  “I lived in Arkansas for 18 wonderful years.”

And I’m sure she hated every minute of it.  Such a boring task being a social climber in a backwoods like Arkansas!

But, you see, Hillary has been waiting for this her whole life.  And that’s why she is refusing to stand down (so far) as the US intelligence community has requested (John Brennan notwithstanding).

Hillary:  “But there is no doubt that I respect the second amendment.”

No, in fact there are VERY BIG doubts that you do.

But how do we know that Hillary is fake?

Because she can’t even come up with her own words.

As she apes Obama (“common sense regulation”), we know which side of the fence she sits on.

She is all about confiscating firearms BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY (like the fake Sandy Hook “shooting”).

Hillary:  “And you know, look. I understand that Donald has been strongly supported by the NRA, the gun lobby is on his side. They’re running millions of dollars of ads against me…”

Nice try…complaining that your overwhelming advantage in corporate donations (and the related, overwhelming ratio of Clinton to Trump ads) has not been enough.

Hillary:  “…and I regret that”.

The only thing she regrets is that Robby “Take The Money” Mook couldn’t convince the NRA that Hillary was pro-gun.  And not even a shyster like David Plouffe could have convinced them of that!

Trump:  “And I don’t know if Hillary was saying it in a sarcastic manner but I’m very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA and it was the earliest endorsement they’ve ever given to anybody who ran for president.”

Sarcastic.  Facetious.  Disingenuous.

Indeed, every Hillary statement is something other than what it seems.

Every word out of her mouth is a false flag.

Hillary Clinton refers to abortion as “health care”.

I shit you not!

Hillary:  “So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice…”

Oh boo hoo hoo!

Hillary again resorts to euphemism in calling euthanasia (death, murder…), “healthcare decisions.”

This is a pretty sick, diabolical woman.

Hillary:  “We have come too far to have that turn back now.”

There have, even by CDC statistics, been 52 million (million!) abortions in the United States…since just 1970.

Let me put that in perspective.  If North Korea nuked South Korea tomorrow and killed EVERY SINGLE South Korean, there would by 50 million dead South Koreans.

Are you beginning to get the magnitude of the drive-thru nature of US abortion?

Clinton:  “The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make.”

Or, for Hillary, joyful.

Clinton:  “I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

So Hillary is all for the freedom of mothers to murder babies, but she’s up in arms (no pun intended) when the safety of “toddlers” is endangered by firearms.

Right.  Makes perfect sense.

In other words, the government would be taking firearms to protect “toddlers” (District of Colombia v. Heller), but the government shouldn’t dare interfere with the murder of unborn children.

Got it?

Just wanna make sure we’re clear on Madame Secretary.

Trump scored his first credulity points merely by tone of voice (and amplified by ethical position) when he intoned, “…but it’s not okay with me.”

Exactly.  Hillary Clinton wants to globalize death.  She wants to export it in the form of war.  She wants to import it in the form of mass immigration.  And, not least, she wants the citizenry unarmed so that she and her pals like George Soros can more efficiently exterminate any lowly Americans who disagree with her governance.

Trump:  “And that’s not acceptable.”

Thank you, Mr. Trump.

When Trump describes late-term abortions in some detail, Hilary retorts that his descriptions are “scare rhetoric.”

Right…  Get an abortion.  Everybody’s doing it.  And get a new pair of sunglasses.  Accessorize your abortion.  Make it festive.

Hillary:  “You should meet with some of the women I’ve met with. Women I’ve known over the course of my life.”

You mean like Saudi spy Huma Abedin?  Or do you, more accurately, mean “girls”?  How does Jeffrey Epstein figure into your respect for women?  Because you and Bill know him quite well…and Jeffrey (the sex offender) Epstein likes ’em YOUNG!  [And, as has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt, Hillary prefers females to males (as far as arousal goes).]

But Hillary reframes…like the slimy lawyer she is:  “…choices that any woman and her family has to make.”

Oh.  So it’s not a woman’s right to choose?  It’s a family’s right to choose?  So the decision is equally incumbent upon the man’s consent?  Or is he just supposed to “confirm” like your dream Senate?

Hillary:  “You know, I’ve had the great honor of traveling across the world on behalf of our country.”

She came.  She saw.  He died.

Yes, Hillary Clinton actually said (not in this debate), “I came.  I saw.  He died” in reference to Libya and Gaddafi.  After “died”, she let out a little gleeful laugh.

I wonder if that same laugh greeted the news that Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died in Libya on account of Hillary?  I wonder if she even cared enough to laugh?

Probably not.  Because killing Gaddafi was an accomplishment (for her).  Something to put on her résumé…always social climbing…always for this moment…as Princess of America…so close…

I will give Hillary credit.  At least she’s conversant with natalist Romania (probably because of the insidious (artful!) propaganda of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days).

Hillary:  “…decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith.”

Which “faiths” condone abortion?  I know not all are as strict as Catholicism (at least until Pope Francis ruins the religion), but there aren’t any “faiths” coming to mind that would be in “accord” with abortion.  Perhaps my religious scholarship is lacking.

Trump isn’t drooling out the same globalist shit.

Donald:  “We have no country if we have no border.”

Are you seeing why this guy is winning?  NO ONE has EVER said that at the highest levels of US government.  People here have NEVER had a choice to vote for someone so opposed to the globalist grand design.

But Trump isn’t just taking on the suit-and-tie gangsters like David Rockefeller and George Soros. Like a goddamned Eliot Ness, he’s taking on the “bad hombres”:  the drug lords.

This man has huge, brass testicles to go down this path.

And we love him for it!

Clinton:  “…I was thinking about a young girl I met here in Las Vegas…”

I BET YOU WERE!

Hillary only dislikes scare tactics WHEN SHE’S NOT USING THEM!

Listen to her frame deportation of illegal immigrants in Auschwitz terms:

“every undocumented person would be subject to deportation. Here’s what that means. It means you would have to have a massive law enforcement presence where law enforcement officers would be going school to school, home to home, business to business. Rounding up people who are undocumented. And we would then have to put them on trains…”

Maybe Soros recounted his remorseless collusion with the Nazis.  Maybe they shared a laugh.  Maybe the metteur en scène Steven Spielberg “authored” the above paragraph.

But it’s not working.  The propaganda.  The social engineering.

But Hillary dug her own grave.

Trump could kick back and watch her self-destruct.

Wallace: “Secretary Clinton, I want to clear up your position on this issue because in a speech you gave to a Brazilian bank for which you were paid $225,000, we’ve learned from Wikileaks, that you said this. And I want to quote. ‘My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.’”

Trump:  “Thank you.”

Clinton: “If you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy.”

Of which you have none left.

The game is over.

Your goose is cooked.

No more bald-faced lies about “energy” (the borders would only be open for energy…yeah right), Abraham Lincoln (her “public” and “private” positions doctrine…which she claims to have taken from Honest Abe [you can’t make this shit up]…by way of a Spielberg movie [I knew he had to be involved, somehow…that hack!]), etc.

Hillary Clinton called one of our ostensibly greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln (aka Honest Abe), a liar on national television.

This woman!  Like the pot calling the stovepipe hat black…

The game’s up Hillary.

Time to stand down.

Or, in legal language (which you might be hearing an awful lot of in the coming months), cease and desist.

-PD

Ucho [1970)

A banned film.

From communist Czechoslovakia.

Party as nightmare (like O slavnosti a hostech).

But different.

Walls on all sides.

Claustrophobic.

As if Jeremy Bentham was tomorrow appointed head of the NSA.

From the single, centralized watchtower.

Stares out the embalmed ego of Bentham.

Auto-icon.

It’s just a skeleton stuffed with hay.  Dressed in Bentham’s clothes.

Like the panopticon.

A straw man prison.

Dear friends, I know of no film which conveys the horror of the 21st century.

Quite like this gem of resistance against totalitarianism.

This was the underbelly of communism.

The “evil empire” of which Reagan spoke.

His words seem funny today.  His unscientific, hypocritical words.

Because the Red Scare in the United States was typified by the same methods on display.

Here.

Surveillance.

Which I fear will not subside anytime soon.

Nor has this wave even crested.

“Mass surveillance doesn’t work,” Mr. Snowden wrote. “This bill will take money and liberty without improving safety.”

Finally The New York Times prints something worthwhile.

And even Hillary Clinton’s “History made.” ad can’t deflate the importance of Snowden’s words.

And so if you want to see the 12-tone paranoia of the communist “big brother” state (now that we are living in a “capitalist” big brother state), I would heartily recommend The Ear by director Karel Kachyňa.

It was banned for 19 years in Czechoslovakia.

Because it got real close to the truth.

It painted the communist party leaders as a bunch of jerks.

It portrayed the constant suspicion upon bureaucrats as a living nightmare.

The Ear.  Maybe some HUMINT at the party.

But largely this film deals with SIGINT (if author Jeffrey T. Richelson can be trusted).

The Ear deals primarily with what Richelson calls “clandestine SIGINT” in his book The U.S. Intelligence Community.

What we encounter in Ucho are “the oldest of these devices” (viz. “traditional audio surveillance devices”).

Wikipedia does a passable job outlining this area of inquiry in the article “Covert listening device”.

But dear friends…describing it so matter-of-factly does no justice to the strain which omnipresent surveillance puts on largely innocent people.

And therefore The Ear is a film which shows the psychological toll that governments exact when they make ethics secondary.

What we get from director Karel Kachyňa is the portrait of a society (his society) which assumes all citizens to be guilty until proven innocent.

This is ostensibly the opposite of the American system, but today’s Amerika is merely the other side of the coin:  same pervasion of surveillance (even if it is “capitalist”).

My hypothesis is that “free market” America has come to all-to-closely resemble the regimes it fought to defeat.  Those “victories”, then, were hollow.  We have appropriated the worst, most tortuous means of our past enemies.

But Kachyňa has another message for us in this masterpiece.

In such upside-down societies, promotion might be the worst form of punishment.

Beware, my coopted friends.

 

-PD

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles [1987)

When I was a kid, this was a big family favorite.

It was one of those rare times when profanity got a pass.

That second time Steve Martin goes off…on Edie McClurg (the rental car lady).

But even funnier is the first time Martin pops off…in the Braidwood Motel in Wichita, Kansas…and John Candy just takes it.

Yes, there are some priceless moments in this film.

In some ways, this film defined an era.

Trading Places was an early-decade success (1983) for John Landis.

And then Walter Hill succeeded with a similar type of story, treated in his inimitable way, in 1985 (Brewster’s Millions).

But by 1987 the decade needed summation…and this particular genre which transcended classification needed a testament.

This is that film.

Funny enough, this was the same year the Coen brothers really started hitting ’em out of the park (Raising Arizona).  That film also is a veritable classic, but it is forward-looking.  It is almost like comedy in the hands of a David Lynch.

John Hughes was seemingly retrospective with Planes, Trains and Automobiles…like the J.S. Bach of the 1980s…summing up a decade of dirigist American comedy.

Hughes had a lot of career left to go in 1987, but this was a sort of highpoint…especially if considering only his directorial efforts.

Sure…Hughes was more counterculture earlier in the decade, but he wasn’t above putting his heart into a morality play like this one.

But to paint this film as a vanilla affair is not really accurate.

Consider Steve Martin’s yuppie character…a “marketing” professional on a business trip to New York from Chicago.

Martin’s character represents everything that was wrong with America in the 1980s.

Sadly, Neal Page (Martin) represents the problem which persists in America today.

Perhaps Isidore Isou’s famous class distinction fits here.

Neal Page, marketing professional, is an intern (as opposed to externe)…a cog in the wheel of production.

The Neal Pages of today would learn their marketing from an abomination such as Marian Burk Wood’s The Marketing Plan Handbook.

The Neal Pages of corporate America read a Wood phrase such as, “For the purposes of developing a marketing plan, advertising’s two basic decisions concern the message (what content will be communicated) and the media…,” without ever thinking Marshall McLuhan.

A savvy seller of used books might file The World is Flat in “Sociology” (in addition to the more strictly-applicable “Business”) in an effort to unload what must surely be one of the most overprinted books of recent memory.

But what bookseller ever thinks to place Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man (1964) in the “Business” section…or in the Marketing/Advertising “disciplines”?

Marketers, no doubt, would have a glib answer.

But marketers rarely know more than their insular, myopic areas of pseudo-specialty.

The “right” answer…the culturally literate answer…the answer Marian Burk Wood was either too dumb to include…or too convinced that her dumbed-down readers would not get…is McLuhan’s:

“…the medium is the message.”

The first sentence of the fucking book!

Chapter 1 (also, conveniently titled, The Medium Is The Message):

“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message.”

But the character Neal Page wouldn’t have known that…and that’s why he gets “schooled” in business by the portly, genuine Del Griffith (John Candy).

Of course, Candy’s character wouldn’t have known this either…but at least he wouldn’t have been a venal, meretricious, entitled prick like Neal Page.

And so Neal Page didn’t really go the extra mile in business school…  He just took all the bullshit shoveled down his throat as gospel truth.

Therefore, Page wouldn’t have known this gem either…a parallel to McCluhan from just three years later (1967).

Again, the first fucking sentence of the book:

“The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.  All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

Ok, so I gave him two sentences.  Those are the words of Guy Debord from his masterpiece La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) [translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith].

Notice the similarities to McCluhan.

But, of course, Debord was referencing the big daddy of them all:

“The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’…”

Karl Marx.  Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1867).  Translated by Ben Fowkes.

And so today’s marketing professionals are either brain-dead (thanks to authors like Wood) or craven cynics thanks to equally worthless authors such as Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller.

These last two have contributed a tome to the pseudo-discipline of “marketing” entitled A Framework for Marketing Management.

If anything has ever called for the revocation of tenure, it is the appalling lack of intellectual curiosity these two professors (from Northwestern and Dartmouth, respectively) show over the course of their overpriced bible for aspiring C-level automata.

Consider their statement, “…make low-profit customers more profitable or terminate them.”  Now do you see why America has problems?

And again, “Spend proportionately more effort on the most valuable customers.”

Thank God for the Del Griffiths of this world.

People are not statistics to be terminated.

God bless John Candy and John Hughes for poignantly reminding us of the only true value in life.

Relationships.

Not to be “leveraged”.

Just people.

Plain and simple.

As Del Griffith says, “What you see is what you get.”

Genuine.

THAT’S the marketing of the future!

And it can’t be contrived…

 

-PD