Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Onna Movies!

I rarely go to the theatres anymore. What with school, work, activism and the rest of my life its hard to find the energy and conviction to spend 8 dollars of my hard earned money on more mindless Hollywood drivel. Especially since I can download most of the movies that I want for free off the internet.

Last weekend I decided to take the plunge. Bored out of my mind I called a friend up and decided to go see a movie. Not really having the forsight to actually plan what movie we were going to see, or what times the movies were actually playing we just kinda showed up at the cinema. By the time we got there, there were only a few movies playing their last showing. 'Get Rich or Die Tryin', or as someone who was trying to be hard called it in front of everyone "Get Rich or Try Dying" hahahahahaha...what an idiot. As appealing as the thought of seeing the wonderful thespian performance of "Fitty" we decided to pass.

That left 'Ushpizen' and 'Walk the Line'. I asked the ticket taker what Uspizen was. His exact reply was, "Its about Jewish people doing Jewish stuff." hmmmm...ok...way to sell a movie buddy. So left with no choice my friend and I decided to watch Walk the Line.

Now I have always been a Johnny Cash fan. He done the damn thing for close to 5 decades, been through a lot, and recorded some of the greatest country, folk and rock music ever. His version of 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' is my all time favorite. How can one forget classics, like 'Walk the Line', 'Ring of Fire', and 'Folsom Prison Blues'. Add to that his last album with a cover of NIN's 'Hurt' about heroin addiction. The man was a legend, and is worthy of more credit than my meager ramblings on this here blog.

The movie follows the life of Johnny Cash (played by Joaquin Phoenix) and his love affair with June Carter (Reese Witherspoon [I sometimes get her confused with Rene Zellweger]). June had been in the recording industry as a little girl, and Johnny used to listen to her on the radio while he was a little boy. As soon as he laid eyes on her it was love at first sight. It follows Johnny through his rise to stardom, his pharm addiction, and him falling in love with June.

Interestingly enough Joaquin and Reese sung throughout the whole movie. Both sounded amazingly like Johnny and June, and Reese's voice about blew me away a couple of times. Who knew that she could sing?

Well worth the money to go see this movie. It is definetly something I would watch again.

The next day I got suckered into going to 'Good Night and Good Luck.' I had no idea what this movie was about. I only knew it was in black and white and it was critically aclaimed. Why is it that movies filmed in black and white are always critically aclaimed. On top of that it was released by "Warner Independent Pictures" How can a company owned by Warner possibly be independent, isn't that an oxymoron?

First off we went to a suburban theatre in fabulous Owings Mills *retch* (the closest theatre playing the film.) A friend, my lil' sis and I were the youngest people there. In essence everyone was in the 40's or older. Oh my God, I just knew that this was going to be terrible.

You can usually tell what audience the movie is trying to reach by the trailers that are played before the actual feature. First up was some bullshit, followed by more bullshit. Then 'Paradise Now'. This movies follows two Palestinian suicide bombers. Written and directed by Hany Abu Assad, this movie could prove to be very interesting indeed.

Next up was 'Memoirs of a Geisha' Apart from the fact that I have absolutely no desire to see this movie. I have to ask this question. Why did Hollywood feel the need to have 3 Chinese women star in a movie about Japanese Geishas? I have seen plenty of Japanese film to know that there are many qualified Japanese actresses to play these parts. But I guess they wanted the box office appeal of Zhang Zi-Yi, Michelle Yeow and Gong Li *sigh*

Anyways...before this erupts into another long winded rant...

*WE NOW INTERUPT THIS RANT TO BRING YOU BACK TO THE ORIGINAL TOPIC OF THIS POST*

'Good Night and Good Luck' was amazing. I was throughly surprised how good it actually was. It follows Edward R. Murrow and the CBS News team as they attempt to call out and discredit Sen. McCarthy during his anti-communist campaign. The black and white did add to the movie, as you felt like a tv viewer waiting eagerly to hear every word of Murrow's wonderfully written editorials as he closed the news program. You forget that George Clooney is in it, as this is probably the best performance of his career (in a supporting role mind you.) But hey, who needs to be the star when you wrote and directed it right?

Two films that are definetly worth the time, energy and money to see in the cinema.

While there, I found a couple more movies that caught my eye 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe', 'Aeon Flux' (which could prove to be absolutely utterly and completely terrible, but my nerd ass is probably going to see it anyway) and 'Rent'. Apart from the music, which can get a little annoying, has an amazing story.

If you are too cheap to go the movies, I highly recommend 'Rize'.

And if none of these interest you at all...*shrugs shoulders*

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Gift of the Present: The Blessing

I have often said that I do spoken word poetry. I have never really published anything online except for some unfinished things that I have been working on. Yesterday I went to another spoken word fundraiser for Marshall "Eddie" Conway (please forgive the website y'all we are in the process of a major overhaul) I have been inspired to write once again.

I also mention that a large part of my writing process is writing about the writing process. Often times the first two verses (if you are a real person) stanzas (if you believe in academia) are me writing about getting in to character/personae to finish writing the poem. In this case it is the first verse. I could take them out, however I like to paint a picture of what images I had to conjure to write. I think its important to take an audience on that journey also, it heightens their senses.

That is why my spoken word is often hectic and chaotic in the beginning, and short and succinct at the end.

This happens to be one of those that I read the most often. Or at least one that I present at the beginning of an act. Its called the blessing, and I use it to set the tone of what is about to come in my set. Or, if Im MCing, the tone for the rest of the evening.

It is also featured in that little section of text right underneath the title of this blog.

Like many things I write it is dark. However that's how I've always felt about humanity. It's our struggle to overcome through the darkness that makes us real. My works are always about struggle, always about overcoming and always about reality.
_____________________________


The Gift of the Present (The Blessing)

Shhhh....

If you listen on a quiet day you can hear it
The sound of light first hitting the Earth
The world turning on its axis
As torrential rainfall cools the molten magma
Of tectonic plates colliding to create
My sound is the lightning bolt that first hit that primordial ooze of atoms creating DNA
I'm the first breath of life of Adam and Lillith
And now Im the sound of Lillith screaming No! as Adam mounts
Check that...
I'm now the sound of Eve
We no longer discuss Lillith
Im the sound of Man first slaughtering animals for God
My breath is that last breath when that God betrayed and allowed me to be killed by my own brother.

I'm the epitome of death
Dissected and crossectioned so many times that its life
I'm bolemic the way I consume life and throw it back up as bitter and sour as possible
Ridden with guilt I'm like a Catholic who's had sex for the 15th time you can find my in my prayer closet crying
I am equal to the combined efforts of 15 men doing the work of 5 woman just for spice
Concise
Live and direct straight to the point
I've long past that point of no return
The sign hanging over my head says "lost cause" as I stir together prophecy and flaws.
You can find me in the kitchen
Don't complain that this aint your momma cookin this is Chef cookin
Complacency mixed with fallacies
I erupt that fallic symbol of lies mixing in your ejaculate of demise

What
You dont think I see you roll your eyes
Don't act like you don't like it
You consume it on a daily basis as millions tune into that basic umbilical cord Comcast Cable
To contrast labels
Cause "Calvin Klein aint no friend of mine"
I used his label to wipe my behind
Hung it on the wall and presented as art
Its a start
So tell me how else to rebel
I've fallen off that horse so many times that I've fallen and I can't get up
We are walking advertisements and pay to be
Proud whores of the corporate community
Cause "Capitalism Stole My Virginity"
Live on that reality tv

I got slapped cynical
Saw triple vision as my 3rd eye opened
I'm the senseless personification of insanity
My rhymes exist within the hyperbole of parables
No fables are necessary because my messages are grounded in reality
I chased the past in an attempt to catch up with the future
And spun circles around the present
All the while screaming that
I can shit lightning by eating lightbulbs
I don't know if Ill succeed or not
but Ill be sure to tell you

My rhymes do not exist in the
Bling Bling of the handcuffs or
Ring Ring of shots fired in the chest
I'm a security threat
Your post 9-11 nightmare no longer exists
Because I lack fear
Im not afraid because I discovered
The loudest noise is silence awakening for the first time
and I realized I was alive the day I first started to rhyme

The world better watch out
Because its tomorrow

I Hate Finals!

Finals have come around.

Yay for reading!

rather...

Boo for reading :(

I am currently doing my final project on a case in Maryland

The Summary

Blake v State of Maryland, 381 Md. 218, 849 A.2d 410 (2004)

The Supreme Court of the United States just denied writ of certoria a week ago so the Maryland Court of Appeals decision stands.

In the case, a 17 year old was arrested for 1st and 2nd degree murder, armed robbery, armed carjacking and the use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

He was taken in at 4:30am in his boxers, tanktop and with no shoes. In the interrogation room he asked for his 5th amendment right to an attorney. He was taken to the holding cell still in his same clothes.

Half an hour later, the detective, along with a uniformed police officer went to Blake's cell and gave him a copy of the arrest warrant and statement of charges. Both necessary under Maryland state law.

The penalty stated for the crime of 1st degree murder was DEATH, written in bold capital letters on top.

After handing him the charges the uniformed officer said, "I bet you want to talk now, huh," in an imposing manner. The detective told the officer to respect his right to council and that they couldn't talk to him now.

28 minutes later, the detective went back to the holding cell, gave Blake back his clothes. Blake then asked if he could still talk to the detective. He proceeded to incriminate himself during the interrogation and was later taken to another place where a lie detector test was administered. Both times Blake waived his right to remain silent on paper.

At the trial level, the defendant (Blake) filed a right to suppress his interrogation. The trial judge accepted his right to suppress. Stating "...Interrogated by police in violation of Miranda and Edwards. The State must prove his subsequent pro forma waiver was not the result of the previous coercive unlawful police conduct. And they have not met that burden."

The State appealed the decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and they ruled that the interrogation was admissible because the defendant waived his right to an attorney by signing the consent form.

The Facts

1.) Blake, aged 17, asked for an attorney as per his 5th amendment rights
2.) Blake was taken back to his holding cell at 5:25am
3.) Blake was shown his statement of charges at 6:00am
4.) Written in bold capital letters under the punishment was 'DEATH'
5.) The police officer stated "I bet you want to talk now, huh"
6.) The detective responded by saying, "He already asked for a lawyer. We can't talk to him now."
7.) Half an hour later the detective returned to his cell, handed Blake his clothing and Blake said "Can I still talk to you?"

At Issue

1.) Blake is a minor, at age 17.
2.) Blake asked for an attorney as per his 5th amendment rights at this point the interrogation/questioning should have halted, and could only begin after his attorney was present.
3.) Blake, as a minor, is not eligible for the Death penalty in Maryland, despite this on his charging sheet, and despite his DOB written on top, the first line under punishments was "DEATH"
4.) The entire period between when Blake asked to speak to his attorney, and he was later interrogated was an hour.
5.) "Did the police actions in question constitute the functional equivalent of interrogation?

The Ruling

As per your Miranda rights (You have the right to remain silent etc...) once you declare your right for an attorney, one has to be given to you. Police are not allowed to interrogate you any longer.

The police officers statement is tantamount to interrogation, even though posed as a rhetorical question. The statement was could be perceived as denying a persons right under custodial interrogation to an attorney. The basis for the legal opinion of Miranda v. Arizona (thereby creating the Miranda warnings and your right to remain silent/speak to an attorney) coupled with Edwards v. Arizona (once the warning has been given, and someone in custody asks to speak with a lawyer, all interrogations must cease unless re-intiated by the person in custody) proved the deciding factor in this case.

The uniformed police officer, a person of the state, made a comment to intimidate Blake into talking. In essence he was reopening the basis for interrogation. One could argue that his statement was reasonable and rhetorical. However, the detective who was with the officer didn't believe that it was rhetorical. That is why he was so quick to remand the officer after he made his statements.

The fact of the matter is that the interrogation did not cease as soon as they left him in his cell. He asked for his attorney, and they released him back into the holding cell. He was waiting with no clothes or shoes on, and as a 17 year old boy was shown that he could be facing the death penalty. Only half an hour after making his comments did the detective come back. Not nearly enough time for Blakes attorney to show up, or for Blake, legally, to change his mind about speaking with his attorney. It should be viewed as coercion. Which means that the state reopened the interrogation of Blake, and in essence denying his 5th amendment right to council

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of Blake. All evidence gathered through the interrogation and the lie detector test were ruled inadmissible.

The reality
I could go on longer about this case. After all it is 14 page ruling, not long by any standards, but that is because this decision contained no dissenting or concurring opinion.
I find the law fascinating, there are a lot of little interesting things here and there. One has to read and understand and interpret every aspect of every sentence that is read to fully get a basis and understanding for it. A case can change at the flip of a word...and I mean that a word.

If this bored you, welcome to my world...having fun yet?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis

So I've been reading Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, penciled by Darick Robertson. Transmetropolitan follows outlaw journalist Spider Jerusalem in his never ending quest for the truth. This world is located in the not too distant future, where despite our advancements in technology, human kind has decended into further insanity.

This is one of the darkest, funniest comics I have read in a really long time. Spider has become a celebrity despite his hate filled tirades. He even does commercials. Below I have include Spider's take on voting from an advertisement. The sheer insanity of it is what makes it absolutely hillarious.
___________________________
"You want to know about voting.
I'm here to tell you about voting.

"Imagine you are locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pitbulls for fun, and you aint allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight.

"You like to put your feet up and watch "Republican Party Reservation."
They like to have sex with normal people using knives, guns and brand-new sexual organs that you did not know existed.

"So you vote for television;
and everyone else, as far as the eye can see,
votes to fuck you with switchblades.

"Thats voting.
You're welcome."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WHY?

It's raining outside. The sun now sets closer to 4:30pm, and my mood is slowly changing. All I want to do is sleep all day. That's all I ever want to do.

The same thing happens to me at the same time every year. Unfortunately the one bring piece of sunshine left in this cold fall, soon to be winter, is not there, consumed by clouds of their own.

I am all wet, my shoes, pants and cigarettes (that's right, I'm smoking again) are a mess. I decided to walk around today. Exercise is one of the few things that actually keeps me sane. I had the same song on loop. The Roots "Why What's Going On." Music also helps keep me sane.

I was walking down the street, I saw a man with his coat pulled over him sleeping in the rain. A man on the end of the street had a 22oz bottle of beer hidden in a wet brown paper bag. Gotta do your thing I guess. Who could blame him I had a wet cigarette and I was trying to extract as much cancer from it as was possible.

Sometimes the city can be a cold lonely place. I've posted the lyrics to the song below. It gives me inspiration...

*shrugs shoulders*

Perhaps it'll give someone else inspiration also.

Keep on keepin on...
____________________________
"Why (What's Going On?)"

WHY?? [6 x's]

Sky's the limit so you know I'm gonna rise and shine
I gotta do my thing, I'm kinda getting a little tired of all that's hidden
That's the reason I'm a speak my mind, keep from going insane
Now work with it, we in the last innin'
The world keeps spinnin', my peoples steady losin' while the rich keep winnin'
It's like we neva smilin' and the devil steady grinnin'
killin' what we representin'
Even our children and women, 2K4, livin' above and under the law
Young teen joins the marines, says he'll die for the core
Inducted up into the goverment's war as if the land of money and oil
Funny how ain't none of it yours
I can't sleep yo I'm paranoid, it's code orange
It's far from right, I guess that's why it feels so wrong
To see the world get stripped out of every resource
And people pray to Coca-Cola now instead of the gods
What's goin' on?

WHY?? [6 x's]

Keepin' your head above water, hustlin' to survive
Some people chasin' a dream, others just chasin' a high
Some people blind leading the blind, they chasin' a lie
Some people chokin' backs broken barely makin' it by
But still they workin' all they live, they pushin' for the light
Givin' everything they got to stitch them swishes on ya Nike's
Puttin' pockets on our jeans, mining diamonds for them rings
Rewarded with small change and bullets in the brains
And it makes me feel strange everything we take for granted
At times I feel stranded on this planet of mine
Now should I pull the hammer, clap it out, and laugh about it
Or stand up, be counted while I cast my ballot
When the undertaker's busy and the prison's is crowded
People livin' in fear because they vision is clouded
But the sky's the limit, I ain't cryin' you a river
Gotta move me a mountain, I'm a git up and shout it

WHY?? [6 x's]

When I dream it's hounds on my heels gainin' momentum
I'm tired, can't get uninspired or quit runnin'
I can feel they only inches behind, I escape, I survive
Some how I gotta decide how much I want it
Or is anybody listenin' without a pot to piss in
If I disappear I wonder if the world will know I'm missin'
Who my support system, it's not the court system
Gotta letter it said that you're not avoiding prison
People 'neath the microscope 'cause we defining the culture
They smile and insult you like you shinin' their loafers
Them old heads say we need a modern day Moses
When the leaders is posers we needing some soldiers
It's the X generation, The anger is a nature
Got the writing on the wall so clear that I can taste it
Like a kid sniffing glue somewhere trying to escape
Cause we vulnerable and naked
Gotta show 'em we can make it

WHY?? [hook repeats out]

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Lie, I Cheat, I Steal

WWE Hero Guerrero Dies

I used to watch wrestling all the time back in the day. I would switch between the now defunct WCW and the newly renamed WWF. I would watch primarly for the wrestlers of latin decent. Chief amongst these was "Latino Heat" himself Eddie Guerrero. Eddie died Sunday night. By the storyline it seemed like he was going to rewin the WWE championship the following day.

I saw him win the title once before. When Eddie was hit by a chair there was a mistake, and there was a huge cut along his head. He continued to wrestle for another 25 minutes. Blood was everywhere, the entire ring was red. This was pay-per-view, this was the world heavyweight title fight, he needed to give the fans a show. After securing his belt, he collapsed.

I watched Monday Night Raw for the first time in a really long time. Chavo (Eddie's cousin) and Chris Benoit (both of whom he won a tag-team title with) gave some very heartening eulogies to Eddie.

Missing was Vince McMahon, that asshole didn't even have the decency to give an on camera interview. Instead he sent his daughter, crying big tears to deliever the eulogy.

In the end John Cena was supposed to loose the title to Eddie. John Cena ended up winning the match through a DQ, he took off Eddie's shirt "I'm Your Papi," put the championship belt on top of it in the middle of the ring and walked off...

"I lie, I cheat, I steal."

R.I.P. Eddie...


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Future of Palestinian Solidarity

A while ago, a friend and someone who I have done work with sent out an email to many people that he knew asking them their opinions on the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the United States. It was an attempt to assess the current state of the movement and possibly come with some direction forward.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I have not been very active on issues relating to Palestine. I felt that it was much more important to me, as an individual, to work directly in the community that I live in. I felt that to enact real change I would need to engage those who I live with on a one and one real level. I feel that local grassroots organizing is the only way to enact real change.


As such my comments come from someone who was once very active in Palestine solidarity, but now works on other issues. Despite this I continue to keep myself up to date on what is going on in the movement. I thought that this might be an interesting read to anyone who may stumble upon it.

____________________________________

1. Very short bio (one sentence if necessary) so I know what you're currently doing, even if it isn't Palestine solidarity related. Please include your phone number and address if possible.

I am currently working with Critical Resistance, an organization which believes that the police and prison system are not structures that keep us safe, and should be abolished. I also work with the Partnership for Social Justice, an organization whose aim is to free all political prisoners, with a focus on victims of COINTELPRO. We are currently working on the campaign of Panther political prisoner Marshal “Eddie” Conway in Baltimore, MD.

2. What do you feel are the high points of the movement during the current intifada (past five years)? What have we achieved?

There have been quite a few achievements in the last few years dealing with Palestinian solidarity. The most important of these achievements being the beginnings of a dialogue amongst politicians, activists and academics as to the nature of Zionism and how it relates to imperialism and racism. Zionists, and those who support them, have been far too effective for far too long in manipulating public discourse around these issues. The fact that there is wide debate on college campuses; in particular the divestment movement is a positive, and something that was lacking for far too long. Now within many progressive political organizations there is at least a discourse on Palestine solidarity.

3. On a scale of 1 to 5 how would you assess the current state of the movement, with 1 being good and 5 being bad.

3.5

4. If you feel that things are NOT going well, why do you think that's the case? When did the movement begin to decline or get set back? For example, some say that things changed for the worse in the wake of the the 9-11-01 attacks. Others say it was with the beginning of the war and occupation of Iraq.

While Palestinian discourse is prevalent in many organizations, there is largely little work that is being done, in the United States, on the grassroots level. Unfortunately for many issues, especially those dealing with other countries, or U.S. foreign policy, organizing only takes the role of preparing people for one demonstration or another. While there is always a space in the movement for marches and demonstrations, they have largely proved to be unsuccessful. If Israel continues to occupy Palestine despite Palestinian resistance on the ground, than demonstrations do little to sway their policies. Similarly large demonstrations, where people just march, do little to sway U.S. foreign policy. Demonstrations are useful to gain media attention to certain issues. Unfortunately mainstream media rarely chooses to cover these events.

What was needed was an action that was visible, tangible, and local in nature. This is why I was initially active in the divestment movement. However, after leaving school, I felt the need to become more active in local issues that are important to people of color and working class people in Baltimore. I found that it was difficult to get people to become active/mobile on Palestinian solidarity when there were so many issues to be dealt with locally. I feel that for any movement to succeed in the United States it needs to engage and be a part of the local community. The main question is how to get people who are most affected by agents of oppression but are not politically aware, active. If it is difficult for people to be politically active and aware on issues that relate to them directly, how is it possible to get people to become politically aware on issues that affect the globe outside U.S. borders?

The movement has also done a “great” job of dividing and subdividing into smaller groups and alienating themselves from each other. While political discourse is necessary to political movements, it shouldn’t drive organizations to harbor hatred/resentment towards each other, especially when all the issues are agreed upon. Furthermore, to get any major organization to understand and accept Zionism as racist and imperialist ideology has been a constant battle, and one that continues to be waged. Even within the progressive movement in the U.S. it is acceptable to talk about Palestine provided that the discourse does not “disgrace” Israel, and the basis of its political ideology, Zionism. If the progressive movement, the movement where Palestine solidarity should be easily conceived and accepted, cannot agree on the issues surrounding Palestinian resistance, than it would be hard-pressed to convince mainstream America or the government to accept the issue as well.

The lack of a unified political front, very little to organize for outside college campuses, and its inability to relate to the majority of Americans has made the movement stagnant.

The Iraq war helped to galvanize many Americans to begin to see open political dissent as positive, and necessary, for an effective government. Unfortunately there were people involved in the anti-war movement who were wary of mentioning Palestine in any way. They felt that by doing so would “divide” the movement (perhaps the movement needs to be divided if it doesn’t deal with real progressive issues). As there was such a rightful and dire need to organize quickly against the war, Palestine was largely left by the wayside. It was only after the war did the mainstream anti-war movements begin to discuss Palestine. However, many political activists continue to be focused on anti-war activities, while neglecting Palestine solidarity. Something which is understandable, there are only so many issues that an individual can organize around at any given time. Seeing as how there are so many ways for activists to plug in, and an infinite number of organizations to check and question the infinite number of problems dealing with U.S. imperialism and occupation, many activists feel overstretched in their efforts.

What is needed is to rethink the Palestine solidarity movement in the United States. To begin a new discourse, not only on how we can get corporations, institutions and universities to divest from Israel, but how we can engage “real” people on the local grassroots level so that they may begin to fully understand issues surrounding Palestine and how they relate to issues that they face in the United States.