Monday, May 28, 2012 / 12:45 pm

Monkology: Come to the Book Party

FourStory co-sponsors an event celebrating the new volume with 15 of Gary Phillips’s Ivan Monk stories.

by Nathan Walpow

Tags: Gary Phillips | Ivan Monk | mystery novels | crime fiction

Monkology party flyer

Everyone knows about Gary Phillips’s four Ivan Monk mystery novels. But did you know that there are a bunch of Monk short stories too? And did you know that you can find 15 of them in the new collection Monkology?

Okay, it’s not exactly new:  there was the legendary 2004 hardcover limited edition. Which is really hard to get your hands on. Now A Barnacle Book announces a trade edition and e-book, with two additional stories ... Monkology: 15 Stories From The World of Private Eye Ivan Monk.

Next Saturday, June 2, from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, A Barnacle Book, Rare Bird Books, and FourStory sponsor the Monkology Launch Party at Club Fais Do-Do, 5253 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. (That’s between Fairfax and La Brea.) There’ll be refreshments, there’ll be books, and there’ll be the man himself.

Come on down and meet him, buy a book, and have a blast. RSVP here.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012 / 7:09 am

Holy Gayness!

June is gay like a sonofagun in comics.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: gay rights | DC Comics | Marvel Comics | Batman

Same sex love in comics

As June is Gay & Lesbian Pride month, DC Comics is looking to steal some thunder back from rival Marvel, what with the Avengers movie making an 18-wheeler load of mullah worldwide.  I got to see the flick at a screening and save for a couple of odd plot holes, the movies is rock ‘em, sock ‘em.  It delivers.  Anyway, co-publisher Dan DiDio teased at the Kapow comics convention this past weekend in London that this iconic character, long part of the DC Universe (DCU), would be soon batting for the other team as it were.  It was also made clear it was a character who so far hadn’t emerged since the New 52 began.  This was where DC revamped all its existing characters, in some cases jettisoning years of convoluted back stories and plotlines.

Too bad it’s not Wonder Woman, for she’s already appeared in her own title again post the reboot.  Among the trinity of her, Superman and Batman as the pillars of the DCU, she’s always been the weakest in terms of title strength.  Due in no small part to the male dominance of comics readers, while Supes and Batman have monthly multiple titles they star in – and if some other character’s book is flagging, Bats shows up to boost sales – WW only has the one book.  In the good old innocent days, Wonder Woman would often tie up a villainous and busty lass laying on the ground with her Golden Lasso to make her tell the truth (and even though she can fly like Superman she also had an invisible jet!?), as this was the rope’s powers to make you do so when in its grasp.  She’s already pretty butch, so making her a woman lovin’ crime fighter – Batwoman is already out as a lesbian -- with a penchant for kinky dominatrix type confinement would certainly seem to be a formula to up sales among teen males and corrupting girls too I suppose.

Read more ...

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012 / 9:10 am

Why We Have Such Disparity in Wealth

In eight easy steps (with drawings!)

by Donna Schoenkopf

Tags: disparity in wealth | private equity scam | no justice no peace | robert reich

Rich guy smokin' a cigar

Private equity sharing made easy.  

(Admit it.  You have no idea what the hell that is.)

http://bit.ly/JnFiEe

Now that wasn't so bad, was it? 

Let me know how pissed off this made you.

 

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Monday, May 21, 2012 / 12:16 pm

Improve Your Mind with YouTube!

It's the thinking man's waste of time.

by Jim Washburn

Tags: YouTube | college | Obama | drunk fights | komodo dragon | Chris Gaffney | Gandhi


If, like me, you’ve been out of college for a long time, you probably miss the mental stimulation that comes from constantly being introduced to new ideas and drugs. Maybe you’ve been thinking, “I should challenge my intellect and go back to college, by crikey.”

Don’t do it! Your psyche, for one thing, can’t take the sticker shock. Back when I went to UC Irvine, tuition was only $230 per semester. That’s pretty much what you’d pay today, but just for parking. That fee is separate from the numerous other ones now tacked onto the basic UC tuition of $4,656, bringing the actual total to $4,716 per quarter, not counting textbooks, lodging and Pringles.

The other thing is, old people look creepy to college kids. They’re not accustomed to being confronted by such dessicated ugliness in their daily lives, and to mask their unease, they’ll nickname you Daddy-O and break your 78s. Until such time as you can be safely cremated, it’s better to just stay indoors and get your groceries delivered.

Fortunately, the miracle of YouTube is right there at your fingertips, with the sights and sounds of the world. You’ll find the wonders of science, the flight of culture, the weight of history, and lots of footage of  college kids puking real drunken puke, eking every bit of experience they can from their folks’ $15,000 annual outlay.

My musician/journalist pal Dan Forte (aka Teisco del Rey) recently sent me a link to a class by jazz pianist Hal Galper. I’ll confess to being utterly unfamiliar with the guy, but he has some great insights into the connection between the mind and what comes out of your instrument, and it’s probably applicable to many other things in life.   

Read more ...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012 / 10:16 am

Banned From the Grove

Manny Pacquiao on the ropes over anti-gay comments.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: Manny Pacquiao | anti-gay | boxing | payday

Pacquiao in the corner.

Dammit, Pac-Man, why you got to get all up in the same sex marriage tangle?  Couldn’t you have just kept your opinions to yourself leading up to your fight with Timothy Bradley?  Getting yourself banned from the Grove and what not – where he was supposed to tape a segment with the Extra TV show.  Damn you Manny Pacquiao.  Who else do I have to root for in boxing if it isn’t you while I’m sippin’ on that yak?    

I am relieved though that you didn’t quote Leviticus chapter 20, verse 13 that reads: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."  Apparently Granville Ampong in his online piece for the National Conservative Examiner for which you did the interview had the quote in it, and it got attributed to you.  Well, that’s half a bullet dodged.

But a friend of mine, Rick Jacobs, who is gay and is the founder and chair of the Courage Campaign told the LA Weekly online that "American sponsors are going to have to look very carefully about whether they can continue to pour money into his apparently rather empty soul. Not only does [Pacquiao] live in L.A., he makes a lot of money thanks the United States and sponsors here in particular."

In the states, Pac-Man, who holds eight titles, more than any other boxer and a congressman in his native Philippines, stars in a commercial for Hennessy – yak being rapper slang for cognac – and one for an HP TouchPad, worth probably about a million each to him.  Given his paydays for his bouts, such a boycott wouldn’t hurt his in the bank account but clearly he needs to set the record straight as it were.  It’s not like he said “fag” as Kobe Bryant said during a Lakers-Spurs game last year; mad for getting a technical foul from a ref who he called that.

Offer to meet with gay groups and agree to disagree, touch gloves and go back your respective corners.  Come on, Manny, man up.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012 / 11:20 am

Henri, the Existential Cat

He says it, oh so well.

by Donna Schoenkopf

Tags: Henri | existentialism | cat | ennui

Henri

Sometimes . . .

Words do not suffice. 

Here is Henri.

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Friday, May 11, 2012 / 3:20 pm

Tony DeZuñiga Draws No More

Another comics artist gets the short end in the end.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: Jonah Hex | Tony de Zuniga | comic books | DC

Big bad Jonah Hex

Once again I remind you writing and drawing comics ain’t for kids.  Wonderful penciller and inker Tony DeZuñiga, 79, passed away this Friday, May 11 in the Philippines.  Not only being a masterful comics illustrator, DeZuñiga co-created the facially deformed ex-Confederate cold-blooded bounty hunter Jonah Hex with writer John Albano.  Hex first appeared in All-Star Western #10, February-March, 1972.  According to this entry on Wikipedia, DeZuñiga said this of his creation:

"When I went to my doctor, I saw this beautiful chart of the human anatomy. And I saw the anatomy of the figure was split in half, straight from head to toe. Half his skeleton was there, half his nerves and muscles. That’s where I got the idea it won’t be too bad if his distortion would be half.”

Read more ...

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Monday, May 7, 2012 / 7:00 am

Private Prisons, Hip Hop, Conspiracies and Truths

Private prison advocacy met with the hip hop community in the 90s, and made music more violent to reinforce their bottom line.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: conspiracy | hip hop | scandal | Reagan was an asshole

Blacks in Prison

The other day, this was posted on the blog Hip Hop Is Read:

After more than 20 years, I've finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society.[...]

Between the late 80's and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry.[...] [E]arly 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.

The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces.[...] Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. [...] A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them.

Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. [...] The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion.

[...] The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. [...] My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside.

[...] I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.

Read more ...

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Friday, May 4, 2012 / 2:48 pm

The East is Pressboard

A day in the life of pre-fab.

by Gary Phillips

Tags: Ikea | East Germany | communists | labor camps

The East is dancing

In another in the highly infrequent series of addressing where do I get my ideas for stories, comes this tidbit has surfaced via SVT, a Swedish television network.  They ran a report recently claiming after examining Stasi (the East German secret police) files, Ikea knowingly used political prisoners in the former German Democratic Republic to make their pre-fab furniture in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Too, last year German public television channel WDR leveled the same charges at Ikea.  The company denies that they had knowledge of this practice.

But it’s long been known that starting in the 1960s, the furniture giant cum housing developer (see 4/18 post on “Ikealand”) farmed out the manufacture of its cute cubby desks to several of the then communist East Bloc countries for the cheap labor aspect.  Added to that you have the fact that their fonder, Ingvar Kampard, was a member of the Swedish Nazi party in his halcyon youth, you got yourself some elements to work with story-wise.

Read more ...

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Friday, May 4, 2012 / 9:41 am

Young Storytellers: This Magic Moment

The school’s act could be more together, but all that’s forgotten when the kids get cooking.

by Nathan Walpow

Tags: Young Storytellers | children | writing

storytelling

If the school I’m a Young Storytellers mentor at wasn’t so darned close, I’d probably have switched to another by now. Every session there’s a few things that demonstrate their lack of commitment to the program. One time the mentors showed up for the first session and found the school had neglected to pick any students. At one Big Show, entire classrooms of students got up and left partway through.

So the problems this time around haven’t exactly been surprising. After a week off for spring break, we returned for our third session. Which was missing the four fifth grade students, who were off on a field trip. Which the school had neglected to mention was going to happen. So several mentors (me included) sat around during one-on-one time, and the energy in the room was way off.

The next week we got going again. The kids learned screenplay format. I think way too much time is spent on this kind of stuff. Do we really need to spend ten minutes explaining parentheticals to the group when it can be done in two when student and mentor pair up? It’s a delicate balance between group and one-on-one activities, and I think a lot more would get done if we shifted to the latter.

Read more ...

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