Shot Of Rhythm

[ Thursday, May 06, 2004 ]



Wednesday and Thursday, I witnessed the two best professors I know, Tim Tyson and Craig Werner, deliver lectures - on the last day of their respective classes - that absolutely crystallized to me what it means to truly teach. Much like Ms. JoAnne Bland, my hero and the director of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, The Profs understand the inexorable - though not always obvious - connections between the political and the spiritual, the historical and the current, the emotional and the intellectual. Never pedantic or disaffected, their best lectures are the kind that might just start the revolution. Luckily for us, this revolution will be inclusive, and all - regardless - are welcome. There are a few members of the blogosphere who witnessed one or both of these lectures, and they're welcome to comment on them.

I played the last gig of the Blixie season (since two of our members are basically gone this summer) last night, an open mic at the Memorial Union that turned into a brief busking session on State Street that yielded us $30 (and a can of beer). It was incredible to see that much money piling up in my guitar case, but I guess we're good...or something...

On the box right now: Petey Pablo, STILL WRITING IN MY DIARY. The beats on this album are out-of-this-world great. Not a big surprise, with Timbaland, Kanye West and Lil Jon riding the dials. Lyrics are pretty stupid, but this is the party record of the year...


Dove With Claws [10:24 PM]

[ Tuesday, May 04, 2004 ]


Read 'em and weep

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes


Associated Press

WASHINGTON, May 4 ? The Walt Disney Company is
blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new
documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes
President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax
said Tuesday.

The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and
prominent Saudis ? including the family of Osama bin
Laden ? and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Disney, which bought Miramax more than a decade ago,
has a contractual agreement with the Miramax
principals, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, allowing it to
prevent the company from distributing films under
certain circumstances, like an excessive budget or an
NC-17 rating.

Executives at Miramax, who became principal investors
in Mr. Moore's project last spring, do not believe
that this is one of those cases, people involved in
the production of the film said. If a compromise is
not reached, these people said, the matter could go to
mediation, though neither side is said to want to
travel that route.

In a statement, Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for
Miramax, said: "We're discussing the issue with
Disney. We're looking at all of our options and look
forward to resolving this amicably."

But Disney executives indicated that they would not
budge from their position forbidding Miramax to be the
distributor of the film in North America. Overseas
rights have been sold to a number of companies.

"We advised both the agent and Miramax in May of 2003
that the film would not be distributed by Miramax,"
said Zenia Mucha, a company spokeswoman, referring to
Mr. Moore's agent. "That decision stands."

Disney came under heavy criticism from conservatives
last May after the disclosure that Miramax had agreed
to finance the film when Icon Productions, Mel
Gibson's studio, backed out.

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said that Michael D.
Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last
spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr.
Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed concern that it
would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its
theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida,
where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to
Harvey Weinstein; that doesn't mean I listened to
him," Mr. Emanuel said. "He definitely indicated there
were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney
corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell
it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company

Disney executives deny that accusation, though they
said their displeasure over the deal was made clear to
Miramax and Mr. Emanuel.

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company
has the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films
if it deems their distribution to be against the
interests of the company. Mr. Moore's film, the
executive said, is deemed to be against Disney's
interests not because of the company's business
dealings with the government but because Disney caters
to families of all political stripes and believes Mr.
Moore's film could alienate many.

"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to
be dragged into a highly charged partisan political
battle," this executive said.

Miramax is free to seek another distributor in North
America, although such a deal would force it to share
profits and be a blow to Harvey Weinstein, a big donor
to Democrats.

Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes
film festival this month, criticized Disney's decision
in an interview on Tuesday, saying, "At some point the
question has to be asked, `Should this be happening in
a free and open society where the monied interests
essentially call the shots regarding the information
that the public is allowed to see?' "

Mr. Moore's films, like "Roger and Me" and "Bowling
for Columbine," are often a political lightning rod,
as he sets out to skewer what he says are the
misguided priorities of conservatives and big
business. They have also often performed well at the
box office. His most recent movie, "Bowling for
Columbine," took in about $22 million in North America
for United Artists. His books, like "Stupid White
Men," a jeremiad against the Bush administration that
has sold more than a million copies, have also been

Mr. Moore does not disagree that "Fahrenheit 911" is
highly charged, but he took issue with the description
of it as partisan. "If this is partisan in any way it
is partisan on the side of the poor and working people
in this country who provide fodder for this war
machine," he said.

Mr. Moore said the film describes financial
connections between the Bush family and its associates
and prominent Saudi Arabian families that go back
three decades. He said it closely explores the
government's decision to help members of the bin Laden
family leave the United States immediately after the
2001 attacks. The film includes comments from American
soldiers on the ground in Iraq expressing
disillusionment with the war, he said.

Mr. Moore initially planned on producing the film with
Mr. Gibson's company, but last May it pulled out.

"The project wasn't right for Icon," said Alan Nierob,
a spokesman for Icon, adding that the decision had
nothing to do with politics.

Miramax stepped in immediately. The company had
previously produced one of Mr. Moore's films, 1997's
"The Big One." In return for providing most of the new
film's $6 million budget, Miramax was positioned to
distribute the film.

While Disney's objections were made clear early on,
one executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said
the Miramax leadership hoped it would be able to
prevail upon Disney to sign off on distribution -?
which would ideally hoping happen this summer, before
the election and when political interest is high.

Visit Michael Moore's website

Also in the news, the U.S. government has now admitted that over 130,000 troops will be in Iraq through 2005. Welcome to the new world order...

On the box right now: Various Artists, ROCK AGAINST BUSH, VOL. 1. How appropriate...


Dove With Claws [10:03 PM]

[ Monday, May 03, 2004 ]


Woke up this morning with my mind on freedom

I woke up today at 7 AM, couldn't get back to sleep. Is God trying to tell me something about my lifestyle? Not that I sleep in a lot (and I had my alarm set for 8:30), but perhaps there is a little fate at work in my morning insomnia.

To second something Ken blogged about a while back, I am absolutely sickened by the photos of the torture of Iraqi soldiers that have been leaked in the past week. I suppose that the brutal nature of wars make such things inevitable, and I have no illusions about the flawed characters of the soldiers who chose to do such things (or the not-so-flawed characters of those who didn't participate), but I know enough about armed conflict to know that these types of atrocities - on both sides - are more a symptom than a disease. I can only hope that this particular disease comes to a quick end, as bodies pile up and the Thief-In-Chief keeps acting smug in the face of mounting evidence...

Robbie Fulks was awesome last Friday night, as usual. He played a bunch of new stuff, which he says he'll be recording this summer, and I can only assume that it'll make for a great record. Uniformly strong songwriting, with bright arrangements and memorable hooks. He's always been great, but he's never made a truly fantastic record. Maybe that's about to change...

On the box right now: Wilco, A GHOST IS BORN. Okay, okay, I'll buy it when it comes out, but I got a ripped copy from someone. On the first couple listens, it's the weakest thing the great band has ever done, but there are a few tracks - particularly "I'm A Wheel" and "The Late Great" - that definitely rank with their best. YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT took awhile for me to sink into, so maybe this will be the same thing. I certainly hope so, since I've been a fan of Tweedy and company from the first.


Dove With Claws [6:12 PM]