Revisiting Taxi Driver in the Age of the Mass Shooter


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Nice article discussing the relevance of Taxi Driver is these times of lone wolf mass shootings. There are some differences.

But there is one critical difference between Travis and real-life shooters. The film, as it molds Travis into a killer, asks us to understand, even empathize with him. His motivations are not as clear as Dylann Roof’s racism or the Pulse nightclub shooter’s homophobia. Travis doesn’t blame one particular group for the filth and depravity of Times Square in the 1970s. Corruption is everywhere. We see it through his eyes: gangs throwing trash at his cab, couples using the back seat as they would a cheap motel. When he finally decides to use his guns, it’s not to massacre innocents, but save one, a prepubescent sex worker named Iris (Jodie Foster).

The complete article

Douglas Markowitz — Miami New Times

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Truth and Beauty in Texas


I recently read this excerpt from “Truth and Beauty” by Robert Flynn in Trinity University Press’ Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists.

That was when I first got the notion of being a writer. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended. We studied penmanship. But we knew what a writer was. A writer was somebody who was dead. And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.

The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence. For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon. Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany. For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.

Read the full excerpt at Robert Flynn’s website

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Lola’s Story


Today’s Needull is the very last article written by the renowned Pulitzer-winning journalist Alex Tizon, his last masterpiece before he succumbed to prolonged illness last month. In the article, he writes about Lola, his household ‘slave’ in the US, who was also his nanny-cum-cleaner-cum-cook-cum-gardener. Lola had joined Alex’s family from his native country, where her family was a victim of classism and casteism spanning generations. In the article, Alex revisits Lola’s past after her death and during his journey through his native Philippines, also takes us on a journey of realisation. As a UAE resident who knows many such ‘slave-owners’, it is an emotional eye opener of sorts for me. Hope it’s the same for you.

We landed in Los Angeles on May 12, 1964, all our belongings in cardboard boxes tied with rope. Lola had been with my mother for 21 years by then. In many ways she was more of a parent to me than either my mother or my father. Hers was the first face I saw in the morning and the last one I saw at night. As a baby, I uttered Lola’s name (which I first pronounced “Oh-ah”) long before I learned to say “Mom” or “Dad.” As a toddler, I refused to go to sleep unless Lola was holding me, or at least nearby.

I was 4 years old when we arrived in the U.S.—too young to question Lola’s place in our family. But as my siblings and I grew up on this other shore, we came to see the world differently. The leap across the ocean brought about a leap in consciousness that Mom and Dad couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make.

Full Article Here

The Atlantic – Alex Tizon

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The weirdness of David Lynch


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You don’t understand David Lynch creations. Period. But, they just refuse to leave your mind for a long time. Twin Peaks is making a comeback and so Lynch fans like me are waiting for something strange and unexpected.

You’ll find there’s no one single way to characterize what goes on in a Lynch film – all attempts sound a lot like creative-writing exercises trying to describe the interior state of a hallucinating psychotic. Starting at the beginning, with Eraserhead (1977), is like grabbing an alligator by the nose, but there it is: from nowhere, during the Carter administration no less, Lynch birthed out what might be the most ingenuously strange American film ever made. We’ve been trying to articulate what the hell this cult oddity is ever since, from the wailing mutant baby to the Lady in the Radiator, and somehow we’re right back where we started, wondering when the mere suffocation of dream logic ends and Lynch’s one-of-a-kind perspective on stuff begins.

The complete article

Michale Atkinson — Rolling Stone

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How America’s Obsession With Hula Girls Almost Wrecked Hawai’i


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This is a long weekend read where you will get to know all the history you wish to know about Hula.

Cook and his men—and the merchants, whalers, artists, and writers who followed—mistook the hula’s sexually charged fertility rituals as a signal the Hawaiians’ youngest and loveliest women were both promiscuous and sexually available to anyone who set foot on their beaches. In her 2012 book Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire, historian Adria L. Imada explains how natural hospitality of “aloha” culture—the word used as a greeting that also means “love”—made Hawaiians vulnerable to outside exploitation. To Westerners, the fantasy of a hula girl willingly submitting to the sexual desires of a white man represented the convenient narrative of a people so generous they’d willing give up their land without a fight.

The complete article

Lisa Hix — Collectors Weekly

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Why Switzerland is the Happiest Country in the World


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You think of the world neutral and probably Switzerland will pop up in your mind. A unique country where things happen on time and supposedly people are the happiest. But, is there a downside to being the happiest country? Lack of diversity?

Of the two million foreigners in Switzerland, 1.6 million are of European origin. “Probably the biggest challenge facing migrants is integrating into Swiss living,” Zurich resident and expat, Cynthia Luna, told me. “The Swiss are a culturally reserved and risk-averse people. Newcomers are unaware of the numerous unspoken codes of conduct and will not know if they made a social faux pas.”

The complete article

Jillian Richardson — The Development Set

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We might not have left the time of crisis yet


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Today’s needull is review of the book – Annie McClanahan’s Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture (Stanford, 2016). The crisis that happened in 2008 might not be over yet despite the positive reports in newspapers.

Following Marx’s intervention, McClanahan pulls out from her close readings of these texts a central contradiction of our time: as subjects in a time of debt, we are called upon to follow and act upon our desires and needs for shelter, sustenance, and security, but then are then turned into pariahs of unregulated desires once the moment of crisis hits. McClanahan demonstrates how, in these ideological explanations of crises, the structural level of capitalist macroeconomics always drops out. What Dead Pledges restores to our understanding of the 2007–2008 crisis is how capital accumulation depends on individuals taking out credit and debt; but explanations for the crisis have consistently misplaced the blame onto those of us who have been forced, by a declining productive sector, to turn to debt to reproduce ourselves and to survive.

The complete article

Brian Whitener — The New Inquiry

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