Friday, October 17, 2008

Roseanne Cash announces she's running...for VP

I love Roseanne Cash. I love her music. And I love the conversation we had several years ago on the day we started this crazy war. She has a great, truly funny, smart, self-depricating essay in The Nation on why she is qualified to be VP.

Now I just need to get her to make good on her promise to come to New Orleans.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Does "Joe the Plumber" make over a quarter million a year?

The McCain campaign has latched onto Joe the Plumber, the poor working class man who will be unfairly punished by Barack Obama, just for being a hard-working plumber. But this conversation started with the plumber saying he's getting ready to purchase a business that makes over 250,000 a year. There aren't many of us that can say the same thing these days. And, more than that, a business that clears a quarter million doesn't get taxed until the books are balanced. So is he talking gross or net? And if he is clearing that figure, shouldn't he be paying more taxes than me rather than less?

UPDATE: Turns out Joe the Plumber doesn't have a plumbing license. And he owes back taxes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"A fact is a fact" says McCain, as he continues lying

In the final debate last night, McCain did a remarkable thing. He tried to distance himself from the negative campaign he's running while simultaneously forwarding the same inaccurate information that he's been criticized for in the past. In addition to the "2 million dollar projector" he focused on the William Ayers controversy and insisted that Ayers was a key part of the launch of Obama's career. The Chicago Tribune found the facts quite different:

*Obama's campaign really was launched when he got the backing of then state Sen. Alice Palmer (D-Chicago), who wanted him to replace her as she was planning a run for Congress. Palmer's backing gave him entrée into local influential political circles.

Obama and Palmer would later have a falling out that continues to this day. Palmer changed her mind and decided to run for re-election after all. Obama got Palmer and his other rivals knocked off the ballot. Palmer ended up backing Hillary Rodham Clinton's Democratic primary bid.

*Obama's formal kick-off to announce his run for state senate was at the Hyde Park Ramada Inn on Sept. 19, 1995. Obama was introduced by Palmer in a room filled with supporters at the Ramada, fronting Lake Michigan on South Lake Shore Drive, a stroll from the Museum of Science and Industry.

*Around this time, Obama started to attend a series of coffees in the Hyde Park community where he lived, standard operating procedure for political rookies running in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago.

"I was certainly (hosting) one of the first," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, rabbi emeritus at Chicago's KAM Isaiah Israel--located across the street from the Obama home.

"There were several every week," he recalled on Tuesday night when we spoke. "I remember what I said to him: 'Someday you are going to be vice president of the United States.' He laughed and said, 'Why not president?'''

*The Ackermans, Sam and Martha, longtime Hyde Park activists in independent Democratic politics, also held an early event for Obama in their condo on E. Hyde Park Boulevard. (They have since divorced.)

Sam Ackerman told me Tuesday when we exchanged e-mails that "as I recall, the event at Bill Ayers' house (prior to ours) was a fund-raiser for Alice's congressional campaign at which she also introduced Barack as the successor she would like to see elected."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Judith Owen and Sally Mann, belatedly

I've been meaning to post about some of the great shows that have been going on around town, but I've been too busy to get any posts up, about anything. Except Sarah Palin, who has seemingly hacked into my blog to post embarrassing info about herself.

Back in September, Judith Owen played a show at the CAC. Judith is a great songwriter, pianist, and singer. Her style is bluesy, jazzy, folksy--a bit of a Joni Mitchell influence, but with a wicked sense of humor. She also happens to be married to Harry Shearer and loves dogs. Judith has said she'll do raise money for the Sula Foundation, but scheduling is impossible, so we'll see. In any case, the show was great. She played with a small string section, and reworked some songs from her new CD, Mopping Up Karma, which was actually supposed to be released by Capitol a decade ago as producer Glenn Ballard's followup to Alainis Morrissette. Of course, this is another reason I love Judith Owen--she introduces songs by telling the story of how everything has gone wrong, how foolish she's been. And she tells stories about how much she loves Harry. The highlight of the evening was a new song, "Manhole," which is about depression and it knocked everyone's socks off. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.

A few weeks later, at the Ogden, photographer Sally Mann held a discussion about her show there: "What Remains." I thought it would be interesting to hear her speak, but was a little aghast when I saw the show. The entire first gallery focuses on photos of her favorite greyhound after it died. Most of these are photos of the dog's bones, exhumed a year after its death and carefully arranged. These didn't bother me as much as the photos of the dog's skin hung like a cloak on a hook. I asked her about that "process" and she said, "Yes, that is different, isn't it?" The exhibit continues with photos of dead bodies in a "body farm"; a series taken on Mann's farm the day an escaped convict was cornered and killed himself in a grove of trees; a civil war battlefield; and extreme closeups of her now grown children. It was interesting to hear her talk about what she was going through while taking these photos, her thoughts on death and mortality. But I don't know that what she had to say really exists in the photos on display.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Twilight" mania at the New Orleans Film Festival

Last night I introduced "How To Be" at the New Orleans Film Festival. It is an odd little British comedy about a young British man who is, as I like to put it, an incredibly awkward loser. But he's played by Robert Pattinson, who will soon be playing the young vampire heartthrob in the film version of "Twilight," based on Stephanie Meyer's trilogy. He also appeared in the last couple of Harry Potters.

I arrived at the theater 45 minutes early and the teenage girls were already in line. Some had driven from Orlando; others from Oklahoma. Following the film, we were scheduled to be doing a Q and A with Rob, via telephone. In person, another young actor would appear, Mike Pearce. Before the audience was let in, we tested the phone hookup that would allow Rob to hear me speaking into a wireless mic, and allow us to hear him over the speakers of the theater. "How did you end up in this film?" A stand in for Rob offered that he had been out drinking and met a man who said he looked the part. "Do you get all your work while drinking in bars?" I asked. "Yes," the imposter offered.

The screening went well--even the older audience members enjoyed it--and then we went on to the interview session, with Mike and I at the front of the theater answering the first few questions while waiting for Rob to appear on the phone. Poor Mike seems like a nice guy, but he isn't really an actor apparently, and had only appeared in the film as a favor to the director. Eventually "Hello" boomed down from above us, and the girls all swooned, and I was running around the auditorium like a talk show host taking questions that always began with "I'm Tiffany" or some other lengthy introduction. But it was fun. Rob was calling from his car, trapped in traffic on a freeway in Los Angeles. Towards the end he said, "I don't even know where you all are." "New Orleans," I said, and he replied, "New Orleans! Why didn't I go to that one??"

The publicists shot each other a look at the back of the theater.

Afterwords, Mike went out into the lobby for a long autograph session and I went to get a glass of wine.