Friday, November 28, 2003

Yet again, I find myself deficient in posting to this blog in a timely matter. Of course, with the end of the academic quarter fast approaching, I suppose I have an excuse. Except, of course, that I did not spend the time I wasn't posting on academic matters, so I suppose that's a lame excuse.

I suppose the most notable events of the past week or so revolve around last Saturday. I spent the morning and afternoon in Julian, surveying the fire damage on a class trip. Friends of the professor was kind enough to allow us into their home, and onto their property to witness the effects of the fire. Driving through Cuyamaca, it was shocking, even when you're expecting it, the extent of the damage. There were isolated patches that were spared, but virtually the entire park (at least as visible from the roads) was just black rubble. And of course you pass the empty holes that were once houses, where now only a chimney and a bit of rubble are. It was remarkable that the professor's friends still had a house; two neighbors did not, and trees were burnt less than 50 feet from their house. It was helpful to see the damage, but I could not help feeling like a tresspasser. The people we met were friendly, and unlike the signs I saw on Wildcat Canyon yesterday, no one was pre-emptively asserting the right to shoot looters, I felt that it was not exactly right to go gawk at people's recently incinerated dreams. I'm glad I went, though.

That evening, after driving to Julian and back, I drove to Los Angeles to see Michael Moore. I like his movies unequivicably, and his television shows, especially T.V. Nation, were for the most part spot-on. And I imagine the left needs voices like Moore's. All that said, I must say I had ambivalent feelings about the evening. I should say first that I was over thirty minutes late, having got off the freeway at Wilshire rather than Sunset and getting lost. When I arrived, Moore was just finishing a discussion of Rush Limbaugh's recent problems, which I really wish I had heard. He then tore into Joe Scarburough, essentially claiming that their was substatial evidence he murdered an intern. It seemed like a rather incindiary charge to raise simply to work up a crowd, seeing as a mass rally is not the best place to detail the allegations in detail (perhaps if I'd read his new book already, I'd be more familiar with the matter). Besides, going after someone on MSNBC is like, to quote Triumph, "pooping on poop." He read a chapter from his new book, Dude, Where's My Country, written from the voice of God. Its intent was to lambast the right's claim of divine guidance, yet it came off, if possible, as even more pompous. At least Bush claims his views as those of God; Moore takes personal credit for being right on every issue. And the humor fell flat. I think that's my main complaint; Michael Moore ain't as funny as he used to be. Yes, times are bleak, but that's all the more reason to give the people something to laugh at as you try to mobilize them again the Bush junta.

Other things that bothered me: He should just give up on Clark. Moore sent out an e-mail urging Clark to run, so I think he feels obligated not to immediately abandon him, but let's face it, Clark is a huge disappointment, who has no chance of getting the Democratic nomination unless the party leadership imposes their will on the voters. Also, in discussing Kucinich, Moore mocked him for saying he's in favor of abortion rights yet morally opposed to abortion. He compared that to a candidate who was morally opposed to inter-racial dating. If Moore can't see the difference, he's more out of touch with middle America than most of the politicians and corporate honchos he ridicules.

There were other things that bothered me, but I'm being too negative. I paid almost $30 to see him (the ticket prices were a bone of contention brought up during Q&A; apparently the prices were beyond Moore's control, as it was part of a larger lecture series at UCLA), and so must have been positively inclined towards him. And he did have some good things to say about the war and what needs to be done to mobilize against Bush, and a contest he organized pitting the dumbest Canadian in the audience against the smartest Americans (the Canadian won in a landslide) was funny. But overall, as I said, I think Tucker Carlson actually has a point (God forgive me for saying that) when he says Bush has made the left lose its sense of humor, much like Clinton did to the right. I love Al Franken, but watching him get interviewed makes me squirm sometimes now. I completely understand where he's coming from (except his unconditional love of Clinton), but its frustrating. Laugh! Political satire is supposed to be funny! Bowling for Columbine dealt with horrible facts about our culture, yet didn't lose the comedic elements Moore has always used to help get his message across to mainstream audiences. But I'll shut up now, no need to keep beating up on a good man and a great filmmaker.

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