Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Make 'em come up"

Fosco is generally pessimistic about new television series--particularly ones that begin in the Fall on a major network (it's usually the sneaky mid-season cable shows that end up being surprising). But, thanks to a badly-title good review in today's NYTimes, Fosco watched "Pushing Daisies" tonight. The show has been over for six minutes now and Fosco is still breathless with excitement. The show is AMAZING. It's the best thing Fosco has seen on TV in years. The review suggests the show owes a debt to Amelie, and I guess that's true (especially in some of the camera work). But the more apparent debt is to the incomparable Tim Burton: a technicolor world full of eccentricity and the constant threat of menace. Yet, at the same time, it's gentle and sweet. Fosco almost cried at one point tonight.

You need to watch this show.

[N.B.: Fosco apologizes for the semi-gratuitous Ween reference in the title of this post.]

I saw the best minds of my generation...

...censored by the FCC?

There's a great article in SFGate today about the potential for an obscenity fine for airing Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" on the radio. As noted in the article, there is particular irony in this, because

fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg's Beat-era poem "Howl" was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines.

And they aren't kidding about crippling:

WBAI program director Bernard White fears that the FCC will fine the station $325,000 for every one of Ginsberg's dirty-word bombs.

And what dirty-word bombs! Some samples:

  • "alcohol and cock and endless balls" (mmm, endless balls...)
  • "who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy" (wait, is he talking about my college roommate?)
  • "who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love" (oh god, who doesn't love sailors!)
  • "who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may"
  • "the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness" (must restrain self from making joke about "ultimate cunt.")
  • "The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!" (A-fuckin-men, brother.)

You get the point: the poem totally rawks. But there's another reason why this story is close to Fosco's heart. You see, Fosco once aired "Howl" on the public airwaves and got himself into a little trouble.

A number of years ago, Fosco programmed and hosted a twentieth-century classical music show on community radio station WTJU Charlottesville. One Wednesday evening (during drive-time, no less), Fosco aired a work by Lee Hyla which set a recording of Ginsberg reading "Howl" to music. Fosco didn't think about it until the Classical Director showed up at the station... Then, the next day, Fosco had to meet with the Station Manager in order to write up an incident report. By the end of the week, every member of the station had to undergo mandatory obscenity training. The Station Manager was nice enough not to tell everyone who had caused all of the fuss, so it was quite entertaining to listen to the classical and jazz staff speculate as to which rap/rock DJ had caused so much inconvenience for everyone. Luckily, no FCC complaint was ever filed and so there were no fines, etc. However, Fosco did feel simultaneously embarrassed and proud to be (probably) the first classical music DJ to run afoul of the FCC's obscenity policies.

Of course, Fosco still feels that "Howl," as art, should be exempt from all obscenity rules. Come on, people: grow up.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sexual Harassment Tuesday

Fosco doesn't know anything about the whole Isiah Thomas sexual harassment case, except that Thomas has figured out a great way to sound really guilty while proclaiming his innocence:

I want to say it as loud as I possibly can: I am innocent; I am very innocent.

Again, I don't know the facts of the case (except I'm pretty sure Isiah Thomas is not founder of Wendy's); however, I have to question the legal status of "very innocent." To me, "very innocent" sounds a lot like "guilty."

Because it's (apparently) sexual harassment Tuesday, take a moment to read Anita Hill's rebuttal to the repulsive Clarence Thomas's charges in his recent 60 Minutes interview. Let's just say that Thomas isn't even "very innocent." Justice Thomas was a liar in 1991 and is a liar still. He's an embarrassment to the Court and to our country. Can we please never let something like this happen again?

Look for the Union Label (on your midterms).

Did you know that Fosco is a member of the United Automobile Workers? Indeed! All UC teaching assistants are members of UAW Local 2865.

And good news! Yesterday, the UAW and UC reached an agreement on a new contract for teaching assistants, eliminating the need for a (very intellectual and extremely weird) strike by graduate students. Even better: the new contract includes the pleasant surprise of a 5% pay raise! That's one more nice dinner a month for Fosco and his boyfriend Oz. Or, more likely, four more books a month for Fosco.

On the other hand, Fosco is a little disappointed not to strike. He had already spent so much effort creating a sign concept:
See, it says "Fuck UC"! Isn't that cool? I've already had it silk-screened on 300 t-shirts.

And I had been working on some protest songs, including a version of Tesla's "Signs" that substitutes the name of UC President Dynes for the word "signs." It goes something like "Dynes, Dynes, President Dynes..." Well, that's as far as I got. But it was going to be killer.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Or do they accept sexual favors?

Fosco just purchased his copy of Radiohead's forthcoming album "In Rainbows." If you haven't heard, that's the album where you choose how much you want to pay. Yes! You order directly from Radiohead's website and, on the release date, you download the album--all for whatever price you choose.

Fosco decided to be classy and paid £5. Fosco thought this was about $8, but it turns out to be more like $10. Oh well.

Did I pay too much? Well, I have a plurality of company. More details on October 10.

New Philip Roth Novel Not Laugh-A-Minute Romp

Today's NY Times proves that there is nothing easier than writing a brief thematic description of a recent Philip Roth novel. Here's the teaser for their review:

Aging, mortality, loneliness, and loss. Wait--wasn't that his last novel? Or the one before that? Or one of the other ones?

Heck, I bet the Times didn't even have to read the novel to figure that one out.

Next week: "Richard Ford's new novel is a plain-spoken exploration of the disappointments of middle class American men." Oooh, can't wait to read that one. Hey, readers, write your own pre-reviews!

[N.B.: Fosco believes that Philip Roth is, without question, the greatest living American author.]