Archive for racial prejudice

The Book Booth: Mockingbird Edition

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Image via: the New York Times

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, @SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

My guess is that many of you have already seen that a "new" Harper Lee novel will be released. The book was apparently written before she began work on To Kill a Mockingbird and involves an adult Scout Finch visiting her father Atticus after the events of Mockingbird. The Gray Lady has the story.  Harper Lee

Of course the news set the twitters aflame with title suggestions, as Salon explains.
Mockingbird Prequel/Sequel

And it set off some controversy. Ms. Lee is now in assisted living and there is some worry that she may have been pressured into publishing this work. I was a bit surprised when the story appeared in the first place. I had the feeling that she had said what she wanted to say in the one book and was content with it. But apparently she is "happy as Hell". And I'm good with it, too, even if it isn't nearly as good as Mockingbird.
Harper Lee is Happy as Hell

Another thing you may have seen this week is the touching letter written by Roald Dahl on the death of his daughter from measles in 1962. Coming on the heels of the new outbreaks of measles in this country and with the boneheads who wont have their children vaccinated, creating a public health menace, well, it gets my blood to boiling.
Roald Dahl's Daughter Died of Measles -

Happier news came from the recent conference of the American Library Association where it was announced that Kwame Alexander won the Newberry Award for his children's novel The Crossover and Dan Santat won the Caldecott for his book The Adventures of Beekle. Publishers Weekly has the story here.

Let us admit it. Even at our advanced ages, we love kids picture books. NPR recently featured some newer titles that look wonderful.  Kids Books for Adults

The news from Hollywood is that James Franco, English student extraordinaire and actor, is set to star in an adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1936 novel, In Dubious Battle. Franco has appeared in other literary adaptations, including a recent film of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. The LA Times has the scoop here.
James Franco

I have been blitzing through that very fine HBO series Boardwalk Empire and in reading the credits (yes, I read the credits), I noticed that Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island, among other great books, wrote for the show as well as served as "Creative Producer". Apparently this development is not unusual in Hollywood these days.
Novelists as Screenwriters and Producers

The Daily Telegraph posted this rather interesting and chronological look at fifty cult novels. And To Kill a Mockingbird is on the list!
Fifty Cult Novels

Finally, for anyone worried about what to read next, Publishers Weekly provides you some previews of books to be in stores this spring, including new works from Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Nick Hornby and Thomas McGuane, to name a few.
Spring Book Preview

Happy reading for us all this weekend and be sure to let us know what you've just pulled off the shelf.

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"Prejudice people are lazy and stupid and smell like ham butts. Without the ham."

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prejudice jon stewart daily show the amazing racism

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst, who's having a little fun with a not-very-fun topic: prejudice, starring-- who else?-- Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. Take it away, Will:

LAZY STUPID HAM BUTTS

Wasn’t what you would call the most favorable week for old white racist men. Then again, these weeks, not many are. How bad did it get for ancient intolerant Caucasian males? Bowling ball dropped on your little toe from a height of nine feet bad. Brazilian soccer stampede bad. Donald Trump testifying at your rent- hearing bad.

First, Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who patriotically refuses to pay grazing rights on government land, tried to stretch his 15 minutes of fame a few microseconds too long, expanding his realm of influence into the field of behavioral sciences by buttonholing a New York Times reporter: “I want to tell you what I know about the Negro.” He proceeded to execute a wonderful performance piece from a 1870s traveling minstrel show. Al Jolson would have been proud.

But, alas, the grizzled xenophobe denied any ironic context and the hemming and hawing that followed would have kept sewing circles in the state of Iowa busy for month. Even his posse of right wing militia supporters disappeared like dew on the sun.

Then, Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was acknowledged to be the voice of an audio recording so racist, it made Mr. Bundy sound like the recipient of an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award. An award about to be bestowed on the exact same NBA owner of which we speak. For the 2nd time. You can't make stuff up like this.

Since African- Americans make up 76% of professional basketball players, and figure prominently in the marketing and as consumers, you could say the NBA’s brand new commissioner, Adam Silver, (yes, it’s a Sterling- Silver thing) was encouraged to take swift action. You could also say carpet tacks make lousy dessert topping.

He banned the team’s owner from attending any games or entering any Clipper facility or participating in any business decisions of the Clippers or NBA. For life. Hope the guy lives to be 110.

He’s even prohibited from using the word clippers. From now on, the Sterling household will only stock nail- trimmers and beard- scissors in their medicine cabinet. “Remember Shelly, it’s my money holder. Not a clip.” For life.

When will everybody realize this whole black/ white thing is plain ridiculous? Nobody’s white. If we were actually white, we’d scare the bejesus out of each other. People would take to carrying around garlic and crosses and wooden stakes to wave and stab. Even albinos are an off- white. Beige. Tawny. Ecru. Eggshell. Desert Stone. And if you ever run into anybody who’s the same hue as that flesh colored Crayon in the big box of 88, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Conversely, no one’s truly black. If they were really black, they’d be absorbing light and we’d keep bumping into each other. Hell, the NBA Finals would be a blur. “And there’s David Lee and a bunch of other guys. I have no idea what’s going on. It’s up. It’s in. Yes!”

Although some founding fathers found support for their exclusionary views in the Bible, prejudice has always been hard to rationalize. Pre- schoolers know that if you take the time to get to know someone, you’ll discover a thousand reasons to loathe and despise them. On an individual basis. Prejudice people are just plain lazy. And stupid. Lazy and stupid and smell like ham butts. Without the ham.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, “Elect to Laugh,” the one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” a calendar guide to personal appearances and info about the documentary film “3 Still Standing” benefit to raise post production money at 142 Throckmorton on May 9th.

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Lookin' Back -- This Week In Entertainment History

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This week in history

This week in the entertainment industry is actually quite memorable. During this week, but in the past, there were some landmark productions from a kid friendly TV series, to a sexually/racially controversial Micheal Jackson video, to a movie that launched a thousand "Ahhh's" and four sequels.

So, here's a bit of nostalgia for you--

On November 10, 1969, 44 years ago today, a classic which endures and continues strongly today: Sesame Street. Here's the first time the audience was asked if they knew how to get to Sesame Street.

On November 14th, 1991, Micheal Jackson caused quite an uproar with the release of this music video. Remember when we used to watch those? Back when MTV had VJ's? And look who's the young lad who carries the narrative.  And we all will recognize the man who plays his father. So here's the video that set tongues wagging for controversial and overt sexuality, not to mention a message of black/white unity.

Finally that brings up another celebrant whose start came on this week. Home Alone, on November 16th, 1990 made Macaulay Culkin, as Kevin, a household name and spawned four sequels. "Ahhhhh!"

So this was surely one memorable week in entertainment. I wonder what this week, in 2013, will bring? So far, the biggest expectation is the return of Thor. In comparison to these landmarks, is that the best we can do?

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