I will definitely be reading that book.
Now for the book I read this week, Scott Saul's BECOMING RICHARD PRYOR.
Should you read it?
I do not know.
I am a big fan of Richard Pryor's comedy. The book helped some with that in terms of increasing my marvel over how he did this or that. But it also made me think, "I really would not have liked him."
Why? Well Sammy Davis Junior and his wife may have been fine dining with Richard Pryor as he beat his wife, even sending her flowers the next day, but I would not have been. And I get it, he was under a lot of pressure. I get it that he came up with characters where a man beat a woman because he was beaten down by society.
I get it, but it still doesn't make me like him as a person. And I liked him a lot before reading the book. Now I am doing the thing where you realize that the art is what you trust, not the person.
It might have been different if the book did not try to rush to an ending and treat his illness and the 80s, 90s, etc to more than a few pages.
But what stands out is how much damage he did to women.
A thread the writers addresses (somewhat) in terms of the art? That Mr. Pryor started out brave and fearless and then his comedy was not -- in films, especially.
There is a lot to unpack there but it is not unpacked. It is an observation made -- a very important one -- but not explored.
Lily Tomlin is in the book. She and Mr. Pryor were both contemporaries and friends.
I bring that up because Lily was seen as 'radical' when she was starting out. Did she sell out or go soft?
I do not think so. I think we, as a society, caught up to her. As we caught up to her, we embraced her and what once seemed radical became what we expected.
I think the argument can be made to some degree that something similar happened with Richard Pryor. I also think that some of the films -- THE TOY, BREWSTER'S MILLIONS, etc. -- it needs to be remembered that there were not a lot of African-American movie stars. In the 70s, there was Diana Ross. And that was it for women. Other African-American women made films and had leading roles but they were not stars. In terms of men? There was Sidney Poitier and there was Richard Pryor. You can toss in Billy Dee Williams if you would like. An argument can be made for him in the 70s.
But the point is, prior to the emergence of Eddie Murphy, there were very few African-American movie stars. And Mr. Murphy is the first one that the studios cater to in that they create films for him and pay him what he is worth. Richard Pryor did not have that. He was always underpaid. He was offered poorly written roles (Mr. Saul does a strong job explaining how Mr. Pryor took an insulting role in SILVER STREAK and made it into something to be proud of). And that is when he was offered, most of the time, he was not offered them.
As the 70s receded, films became less diverse and more and more stereotypical if they did have a role for an African-American. Now Eddie Murphy smashed all that away and deserves great credit for that. However, we need to be aware that by the 80s, Richard Pryor was picking the best of some really bad offerings.
If you are interested in Mr. Pryor, I would recommend the book. If you really like him? I would recommend you take a pass on it.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
The mayor of Mexico's capital presented the keys to the city on Wednesday to the father and brother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently jailed in London facing possible extradition to the United States on charges of violating the Espionage Act.
"It is an honor to give you the keys to the city. It is a act symbolic of what Mexico City represents: freedom of expression," Claudia Sheinbaum said.
Gabriel Shipton said the ceremonial gesture of awarding Mr Assange the keys to the city was a "surprise" and he was "blown away" by the support for his brother in Mexico.
Mr Assange has been in British custody since being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019.
The WikiLeaks founder could face a 175-year prison sentence if extradited to the US and convicted of the charges.
Lopez Obrador has often pledged his support for Assange, urging US President Joe Biden to release Assange, whom he considers "the best journalist of our time."
The Mexican president has also said that "Mexico's doors are open for Assange," offering him political asylum.
"I left a letter to President Biden explaining that he did not commit any serious crime, Assange, he did not cause anyone's death, he did not violate any human right, and that detaining him would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression and freedom. And I explain that Mexico offers protection and asylum to Julian Assange", Lopez Obrador said in July.
He said if the US does not free Assange, he would start a campaign to remove the Statue of Liberty in New York City.
In June, Assange’s lawyers sued the CIA, accusing the agency of spying on him while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.
“The legal proceedings in the U.K. are just a thin veil that is held in front of Julian’s persecution,” said Gabriel Shipton at Tuesday's conference.
He called the security company hired by the Ecuadorian embassy a “CIA asset” and accused the agency of installing cameras and microphones in the facilities in order to record Assange’s meetings with lawyers, doctors, journalists and other visitors.
“This legal proceeding — you have one side that has all the knowledge of the legally privileged conversations with Julian and his lawyers, all his legal documents, which is no legal proceeding at all,” he said.
Gabriel also extolled the effects of his brother’s work with WikiLeaks on Mexican society, saying that it allowed people to make more informed decisions about their government.
In the final primary contests before the November midterms, the Democratic Party once again spent millions of dollars to help fascistic Trump acolytes and “stolen election” liars defeat more moderate Republican opponents and advance to the general election.
The final three primaries were held Tuesday in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware. Attention was focused on New Hampshire, where the state’s two House seats and one of its Senate seats, currently held by Democrats, are considered vulnerable. In the narrowly divided House of Representatives, the Republicans need to pick up only five seats to win the majority.
The Senate is currently split 50/50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote. It will take only one seat changing hands there to tip the balance to the Republicans.
Trump did not endorse any of the Republican primary candidates in the three states’ races, unlike earlier contests in states such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Ohio, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada and West Virginia, where Trump-endorsed candidates were victorious. Trump-endorsed candidates lost their primaries in Georgia, Alaska and Wisconsin.
However, in New Hampshire, Republicans who ran as full-bore MAGA Republicans and promoters of the lie that Biden’s election was the result of massive vote fraud defeated more moderate candidates who were backed by Republican Governor Chris Sununu, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
In at least two of three critical races, the most fascistic Republicans benefited from TV ads paid for by Democratic political actions committees or other Democratic campaign groups.
[. . .]
While Biden and the Democratic leadership as a whole either tacitly or openly support the policy of boosting fascistic Trump Republicans against more moderate candidates in the Republican primaries, scattered voices in the party establishment are denouncing it as a disastrous policy that plays into the hands of Trump.
Former Indiana congressman Tim Roemer, who headed up a letter from former Democratic lawmakers criticizing the party for using the tactic, said: “This is a deeply, deeply precarious and dangerous strategy to deploy. It risks elevating these liars and giving them a platform for another three or four months—even if they end up getting beat—to drumbeat their message into the electorate and further erode trust.”
In fact, it thoroughly exposes the fraud of the Democrats’ claims to be defenders of democratic rights and the Constitution against the openly fascist politics of the Republican Party under Trump.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Democratic Party has spent $53 million in Republican primaries this year. It has intervened in nine states and at least 13 primaries to boost the most far-right MAGA candidates, many of them Trump-endorsed. These include criminals such as Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who were present at the White House and the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and personally participated in the events that culminated in the attack on Congress.
Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras slammed the Venice and Toronto film festivals for “providing a platform” for the Clinton family to engage “in a kind of whitewashing.”
Her comments come as TIFF this week hosted the Canadian premiere of Poitras’s “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” a documentary about the artist and activist Nan Goldin, and just days after the film won Venice’s top prize, the Golden Lion.
It is the rare doc to land slots at the superfecta of Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York, and Poitras said she thought “long and hard” about whether or not to voice criticism at the same venues feting her latest work. Nevertheless, she said, “journalists need to ask hard questions.”
Poitras argued that Clinton was “engaging in a form of whitewashing,” accusing the former secretary of state — who was at TIFF to promote the upcoming Netflix doc In Her Hands, about one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors and the first doc from her own production company — of being actively involved in and supporting the increase in U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan while in office.
The documentarian — speaking following All the Beauty and the Bloodshed‘s screening at TIFF on Monday — raised the subject of Clinton, which she admitted she was initially hesitant to do, while discussing Julian Assange (who featured in her Oscar-winning doc Citizenfour and was the subject of her 2016 film Risk) and the current attempt by the U.S. government to extradite him from the U.K. and charge him under the Espionage Act. The effort, she claimed, was “literally the most important issue facing journalism globally right now.”
Poitras said there was “nothing more serious that threatens the First Amendment,” because what the U.S. was trying to do was charge Assange for “publishing, for literally revealing war crimes in the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
She offered Clinton “a challenge”: to call for the end to the “prosecution and persecution” of Julian Assange. “Because all she has to do is pick up her phone, because she has all their numbers on her phone, and these are the most powerful people in the world.”
“This is literally the most important issue facing journalism globally right now is the U.S. prosecution of Assange over the Espionage Act,” Poitras said. “There is nothing more serious that threatens the First Amendment, not just in this country, but also threatens journalism globally, because what the U.S. government is doing is they are trying to extradite him, bring him back, try him under the Espionage Act for publishing, for literally revealing war crimes in the U.S. occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan.”
She continued, “The last years have been terrifying for journalists. First, the Obama administration — it mobilized the Espionage Act more than it had ever been used, targeting whistleblowers and journalists. And now it’s escalated not just to whistleblowers and sources under Obama, now it’s being used towards a publisher [Assange].”
Poitras also suggested it was hypocritical for Venice and TIFF to simultaneously program the Clintons’ work while showcasing No Bears, the latest film by jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi. She noted, “The U.S. government’s effort to indict and prosecute Assange is, I would say, not dissimilar to imprisoning Jafar Pahani in Iran.”
Why is it that certain states, which seemingly have it all — abundant wealth, a storied history, an educated elite, a distinctly articulated cultural heritage and a collective will-to-meaning by the populace — botch their chances at becoming prosperous, stable nations, thus denying the citizenry their place in the sun?
This is the question that we have been asking in recent months as we contemplated the anarchy that has come to define Iraq’s political culture in our time — certainly since 2003, when the US earnestly attempted but dismally failed to graft on the country a neoliberal system of government.
Anarchy, we all remember from Poli-Sci 101, is not anarchism. The latter (from the Greek anarchos, “without authority”) is a political philosophy that, as a movement, seeks to abolish those institutions in society that exercise authority over people’s lives, leaving it to citizens to arbitrate their own disputes and determine their own destiny (sure, dream on, utopians), whereas the former refers to the falling apart in a polity of the social contract between ruler and ruled, leading to endless suffering and widespread despair, often followed by intercommunal violence.