Not Birds of a Feather: Birders

 DATELINE: Central Park 

 Cooper, Starr with director Kimball.

 

If you want to escape viruses and racial problems, you may go to Central Park in New York City where over 200 varieties of birds come to spend time each year. The film is from 2012 and is called Birders: the Central Park Effect..

Seasonal birders are bird-watchers who come in spring or fall to see the most friendly and unusual birds ever to congregate in a small urban space.

One of the most charming of people in this documentary is Chris Cooper, a gay African American man who calls the art of birders “a treasure hunt,” and explains he disappears for a month of delightful fun every spring. He compares birding to stamp collecting.

You may recall the incident (not in the movie) about the white woman (clearly a racist who could never apologize with a name, only calling her victim “that man”) who called police on Cooper who complained her dog was not on a leash and was frightening the birds. Her attack on Cooper went viral.

That shows how even birdwatching has become dangerous in our racially charged world lately.

What a shame about the racist attack on Cooper, but it draws attention to how real the problem is—even when we try to escape the horrors of our society lately.

Cooper is articulate, intelligent, and a marvelous birder to introduce the artful hobby that entails The Central Park Effect on birds.

Other birders in the film include an old woman named Starr Saphir who charged a few dollars to lead people on watching tours. She usually finds a dozen birds, identify them, and give their history. She kept records for each year for decades before her passing in 2013.

Another character in the story compares birders to those seeking movie stars. The stars are not pigeons or geese, but rare birds you may know from books and pictures. To see one in person is like meeting a movie star, according to Jonathan Franzen.

The film now resonates in ways never intended, but it remains a delightful study of human nature in natural setting. If there is bad news, the number of birds is declining everywhere.

 

Any Cost for the Race to Victory

DATELINE: World War II & Big Three

Leave it to History Channel to bait and switch its viewers yet again.

It seems after weeks of calling Race to Victory  a three-part series, it now appears it is multi-part series. Worse yet, History Channel simply tagged on the nextepisode after the third (now penultimate episode). But, wait, there’s even more!

Events superseded individuals in the first two episodes, but we wanted to see more about the interpersonal and psychological ties between the Big Three. This is a glaring omission in an otherwise excellent series. Now it appears this may be coming in the unknown fourth and fifth episode of the show.

We still have no idea what the “race to victory” of the title means. No explanation seems to have been offered, and self-evident strikes us as ridiculous.

 

This is still fascinating stuff: starting with Germany trying to break up the new alliance of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt, by revealing mass graves of Stalin’s victims. It didn’t work because the Allies needed the lesser of the two evils.

The first meeting of the Big Three didn’t happen because Roosevelt was too sick to travel to Asia where Churchill and Stalin actually became friendly. Stalin wanted aid to Leningrad, but Churchill was set on fighting in Africa to protect the Suez Canal.

 

The States were also preparing to take on the Pacific campaign to regain Midway. Both Brits and Americans were breaking Axis codes—and that was the real turning point, but it didn’t hurt to have General Patton show up to give the Nazis a headache.

There are likely many tidbits in this series that only diehard buffs of World War II will know. For the rest of us, this is illuminating and intriguing.

 

 

 

Live Free, Ghislaine’s Motto

DATELINE: NH Hideaway for Child Molester

 Home Sweet Home!

A new episode of Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein is now required! In the past two weeks, Trump fired the prosecutor responsible for the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s eponymous procurer for a couple of decades.

Apparently she believed the motto of New Hampshire: “Live Free or Die,” as the FBI arrested her in Bradford, NH, in the foothills of Mount Sunapee. There, she lived like Prince Andrew’s consort in exile.

She was not exactly living free:  in December she bought a beautiful one-million-dollar mansion with cash. Miss Maxwell has more loot than you could count. Her hideaway was in the heart of Trump country: most of the locals thought a reclusive movie star had moved into the neighborhood, as the buyer was anonymous.

No, she was simply on the run from federal authorities, and she lived like a star.

The manse, located in cell phone free zone, had a breathtaking window wall view of the mountain. You couldn’t be reached by modern inconveniences. This little house required servants and caretakers, and so you can assume that Ghislaine had her enablers. They were either locals or flown in to do the dirty work.

Maxwell’s father was Robert Maxwell, the notorious tabloid dirt collector. Some claim he worked for Putin, providing photos and grist on political leaders who ended up in the blackmail pile.

Ghislaine procured for Jeffrey Epstein, not for money or love, but because it was a hobby she enjoyed. She ‘d choose and groom those 14-year-old girls for Epstein. She likely whistled while she worked. The British socialite could have fled the US and hidden in one of Prince Andrew’s castles in Scotland (they’re old buddies, or old something). Instead, like most arrogant people, she flaunted her money and lived the high life.

She had a helicopter pilot license and could have fled, but chose to challenge the FBI.

Now her residence of six months in Bradford will be on the market before you can say “child molester.” They better watch her closely in her cell, lest she be dispatched before being deposed.

Marilyn Declassified

DATELINE: Patsy Monroe? 

In a new documentary called Marilyn Monroe Declassified,  director and writer Paul Davids in 2016 tackled the thorny subject of the probable suicide (its official designation) almost 60 years later.

He takes much archival footage and tries to find rare insights to give a background in his premise that it was more likely her death was an improbable suicide.”

No doubt that even decades later, Marilyn is a glowing and beautiful icon, transcending time and place. She may be up there in a few thousand years with women like Helen of Troy. Yes, legends easily pass into mythology with a background like Marilyn.

This film purports to examine both FBI and CIA documents only recently released to public scrutiny.

Using some fairly reputable scholars and researchers, the film veers off the standard biography patter for the final 20 minutes or so when the revelations about affairs with the Kennedy brothers (President and Attorney General) devolves into a mob contracted hit to embarrass the Kennedy Administration, led by the CIA guru and demonologist, James Angleton.

Sam Giancana, who believed the Kennedys betrayed him, was an eager contractor for Angleton. All stones could be unturned and thrown into the ocean when used. You may well ask yourself why it took 4 hours to call the police to report Marilyn was dead by her housekeeper (allegedly a CIA agent). After that, all bets are off.

The connection to Kennedy revealing to Monroe about the truth of the Roswell incident is documented in CIA/FBI reports. Whether true or not, she believed it and was prepared to use it, but the CIA was not about to accept that reality.

This documentary may seem to have gone off the rails, but it also seems grounded in the horrors that not even Ancient Alienswill tackle. It appears Oswald was not the only Patsy in a  conspiracy-ruled world.

Dive Bomber Alert on Mill Circle!

DATELINE: Robin Bobbin’ on Squirrel

When a plethora of robins showed up this spring in my yard near the big tree, I thought—there goes the neighborhood. However, they started rummaging through last year’s flower stems. Each one was yanked out and taken to some unknown spot for a nest.

That’s when the first wave of bombers hit.

Under the eaves of my side-door porch, I saw birds flying toward the storm door. They never hit because they were building a nest, which I promptly discouraged.

So, the freeloaders went to the big tree not far from the dining room picture window. There, for the first time, they started their architectural work. As if for good measure, they regularly cleaned out the yard of ants and other crawling insects.

 

The good neighbor policy continued until I saw the squirrels and chipmunks arrive.

It was war.

A half-dozen robins attacked with all the ferocity of kamikaze flights. They chased the squirrels out of the tree and around the yard. I had never seen such nimble flight—and they worked often in pairs till the squirrels ran for cover.

Then, they began chasing the chipmunks out of the yard. Less inclined to climb the tree, the chipmunks were nonetheless not welcome in this yard anymore. They were attacked with zooming claws outstretched.

I thought I watched out-takes from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

You may have thought the hawk patrol had been replaced.

Regular bombing runs can be seen during morning coffee break whilst sitting at the window. Warfare never looked so natural.

Jerry Jones & Bill Belichick: Birds of a Feather

DATELINE:  Systemic Problem in NFL

The two foremost social thinkers of the 19thcentury remain powerful symbols of racial injustice:  the NFL now claims it did not listen to those uppity black players who believe they are living in an unequal and unjust system of police rioters.

The two biggest symbols of the NFL –Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick—have maintained their deafening silence on the subject of George Floyd and racial brutality.

Their defenders claim that, in private, both are dismayed that their black players are not happy.  But, they are not moved much more than Trump on the scale of justice. Oh, yes, they are both MAGA men.

In the Massachusetts senator debate last night, Joe Kennedy, grandson and great-nephew of Robert and John Kennedy said the Patriots ought to sign Colin Kaepernick. Fat chance: that white snowball in hell belongs to the NFL.

Oh, yes, Robert Kraft is a Trump supporter too.

Defenders of the symbols of NFL victory lappers will never come out and admit their worlds are backward and their views are racist.

It’s hard to draw any other conclusion in the face of such rampant ostrich head burying.

There are those rednecks who line the streets holding automatic weapons as a show to intimidate peaceful demonstrators. There are those resemble the Boston Strangler who put a knee to the neck of the helpless victims but wear police uniforms or NFL neckties.

85% of America think the country is out of control. Among the minority here are Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick: they are always in control, even if your civil rights are thrown out the window.

These are members of the Orange Pips.

The Most Racist President in U.S. History?

DATELINE: Trump Tweets Nazi Soldiers on US Flag!

 Yes, Trump Tweeted It in 2015.

In case you buried your head in the sand like the Republican ostriches in the United States Senate, President Adolph Trump has been bolder each day in his brazen racist attitude.

His latest example of tone-deaf racism has been to maintain the names of United States forts that honor men who owned slaves and fought against the Union of Lincoln.

He earlier supported keeping the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond on its pedestal. He likes to hum that wonderful tune by Stephen Foster about a Mississippi barge named after the Confederate slave holder.

In case you wonder where Trump’s racism is going next: we suspect that he may rename some American military bases after men who dominate the public daring to oppose them. Look forward to Fort Eichmann, Fort Rommel, and Fort Hitler, to be training spots for stormtroopers meant to keep Trump as president for life.

Trump is also going after that Black Lives Matter bastion of left-wing terrorists: the Roman Catholic Church. He believes that a 75-year old peace protester is a “provocateur” who staged his own cracked skull.

There’s a cracked skull in here, but we think it was cracked running into the White House bunker. If we recall, Hitler’s bunker and Trump’s bunker share the safety from registered voters and pollsters.

Joe Biden said on late-night TV that he expects that, if Trump loses in November, he may resist leaving the White House and will need to be dispatched. We hope it happens swiftly, or Biden may find himself locked up (right after Trump arrests Colin Kaepernick), as if he were president of a banana republic.

One Last Trip to Greece

DATELINE: Literary Road Trips

 Steve Coogan with Rob Brydon.

With great sadness we are saying goodbye to the highly intelligent, witty, charming series of movies with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their last is The Trip to Greece,all four civilized comedies were directed by Michael Winterbottom.

These have been four rarities of the modern age: witty as Noel Coward, beautifully locations, with amusing company. And they aren’t even gay. Two performers whose competition extends to out-imitating the other are sent on a fictional outing. Their job as journalists is to visit fine restaurants and write reviews.

The actors sort of play themselves in Brydon and Coogan (notable Oscar nominee for Stan and Ollie, as he was Stan). You often cannot tell where the fiction starts, as they play versions of themselves blending over into plot contrivance. Their litany of impersonations (Brando, Hoffman, Olivier, Caine, Pacino, Jagger) makes for a variety of dinner companions.

Four films feature hilarious riffs and impersonations over dinner and while driving around luscious countryside in Greece. Brydon sings the tune from Grease, and he crunches it to fit the country. Coogan is dutifully appalled.

They transform imitations of Laurel and Hardy over lunch into breath-taking jokes: Oliver Hardy morphs into Tom Hardy.

These little forays to gourmet restaurants have a price in this film (350 Euros).

The bittersweet last entry in the series showcases the performers to their greatest wish: Brydon becomes the epitome of the light comedian—and Coogan, as he likes, becomes the tragic actor of Shakespearean levels.

Their frictions and battles are nothing short of delightful wordplay. You don’t see that much anywhere in movies nowadays.

After visits to England, Italy, and Spain, this lap around the Aegean ends with a whimper. Brilliantly done, and hopefully there will be one more trip.

 

 

Warhol’s Salacious Classic Short

DATELINE: Nothing Ventured?

  Big Moment on Film.

All good things must come to an end, and there may be no more edgy way to end another collection than with our first viewing of Andy Warhol’s 1963 salacious film called Blow-Job.

No one knows whether this was pure acting, or impure acting. Since more orgasmic porno is faked anyhow, we are sure that Warhol was keeping his secret. There is more edginess here than in a modern 21stcentury real thing effort.

Don’t get your knickers in. a twist. This film is the 27-minute version, and it is silent as well as black and white. If there had been sound, we may have accused the star of over-acting his role center-stage.

The star was a 24-year old actor who resembled James Dean, perhaps a fetish of Warhol. DeVeren Bookwaiter went out to do Shakespeare on stage and even appeared in the legit movie The Enforcer. We aren’t sure how many jobs he won as a result of his Warhold notoriety. We never see the costar.

The film starts slow before its inevitable climax. We suspect that foreplay may have enhanced the length—er, of the film. We see the main character only from his shoulders up, in a stylish leather jacket standing before one of those ubiquitous brick walls of New York.

Occasionally he looks nervous like he may hear the police siren closing in. For the most part, he moves around the film frame, and Warhol does not. So, the star often ducks into facial shadow, so we cannot see his bliss.

This could be a farce, or just a sex romp.

Now and then he throws his head back into the light of ecstasy. You cannot hear him, but several times he seems to say the word, “Yes,” and near-on to 17 minutes he may shout out an epithet beginning with F.

The film goes in an out of a white blank, followed by the editor dots. It was either a second helping, or retakes by Warhol. His camera seems to be having more fun the actor in question.

You know you are approaching the end when he throws up both hands and rubs his head. The real tell-tale sign that our break is near, he lights up a cigarette. On the whole, the film is fairly boring. Perhaps you had to be there.

We think he said, “thank you,” near the end as smoke got in his eyes.

Well, that’s art for you.

Two Coreys in the Hopper?

 DATELINE: Feldman Exploits Haim?

 A Final Picture.

 There are conspiracy theories that Stanley Kubrick was assassinated partly because of his hostility to the pedophile strata in the film world.

You can hardly put actor/director Corey Feldman into the same category as Kubrick, though he has produced and directed a film that has been trashed and disbelieved: his documentary on his friend Corey Haim and his sexual history as a teen, has been in production for a decade.

The Rape of the Two Coreys, as it is called, may be more fantasy than reality in terms of film production. If there is a second rape of Haim, it is by his so-called friend Feldman and done posthumously.

Its premiere in Los Angeles a few months ago may have been lost in the pandemic news coverage. His ill-fated showing of his documentary went into the trashcan as the audience waited before a blank screen with “technical difficulties,” and he didn’t help matters by taking a powder rather than face angry people who thought they would be in on a scandal bigger than Michael Jackson.

Whether Feldman is a con man, or merely an exploiter of his friendship with Corey Haim, we may never know truly. Allegedly a half-dozen witnesses gave input into the film to contend that the prettier Corey was raped during the filming of a cheezy movie called Lucasby another Hollywood personality mess. You know his name. At the time one was 13 and the elder was 19.

With statutes of limitation, dead victims, and big money as the foundation, it would seem that no one should be surprised if the Feldman documentary was, first, fake, or second, derailed by powerful forces.

Kubrick would have tend toward the latter view, and the living Corey would hope you agree. He claimed to have a million dollars in sales lined up for his film—and where that money will go is anyone’s guess.

The digital film could not stream, but two months later, the entire project has disappeared like the Los Angeles police investigation of Feldman’s charges in 2017. Police found no basis for pursuing the crimes, and the alleged perpetrator (unnamed here but well-known on the Internet) has skated away with denials.

We can figure out the truth by percentages of possibilities, but exploitation of pathetic people is never going to be a pleasant topic to discuss, view in a movie, or prove in a court of law. As of now, there is no avenue for Corey Feldman’s movie documentary to reach an audience, if it is even a finished film or a real documentary.

Recently, Feldman claimed he left the country because of death threats. He apparently took his film with him. It may never have a public release

Shopping for Food in the New Age

DATELINE: Shopping as the Microbe Hunter!

 Deadly bug lurking in supermarket!

After weeks of being hunkered down with food deliveries from hapless UPS and Fed-ex drivers, we decided to brave the new world and go to the local supermarket chain during Senior Hour.

Yes, for three days a week, they have set aside one hour in the pre-dawn darkness for the old vampires to go out and do their shopping. Apparently, the belief among CDC fanatics is that people under 60 won’t be up yet.

No one checked ID cards on the way in—and we suspected a few of the spry ones were under 60.

Marketers are apparently correct. We went out in the dark, and were shocked to see the parking lot full. Not auspicious for recluses who want to avoid people. However, we were delighted to find that shelves were stocked with our favorite junk foods and comfort snacks. We passed on those, and they tend to take years off at one end of the scale.

We grabbed a couple of disinfectant wipes to use to open freezer doors to find the necessities to keep us away from this place for two or three weeks. Welcome to a new cultural phenomenon.

As we traversed the aisles, only one person wore a mask, and nary an oldster blinked. He wasn’t there to rob the joint, only looking for bargains.

We must say that we have not seen so many seniors gathered in one spot since they discontinued Bingo Night at the nursing home.

We wondered how many of these old folks were as terrified as we: worried that some unknown microbe was ready to leap into our nostril and kill us within days. Thanks, corona corona believers who say that it’s the fake flu. Oh, they tell me Trump’s ratings are improving—because lies are always sweeter than the truth, and old bears are never stung until election day.

Just Friends is Just Marvelous!

DATELINE: A Sleeper to Wake You Up!

 New Stars!

We had the pleasure of watching a Dutch movie that was not insipid, nor overly obvious. Just Friends is a gay movie with a light touch.

Subtitles are secondary to the beautiful production and images, and Josha Stradowsk is stunning to look at, and he meets a Syrian played by Majd Mardo. They have chemistry and are delightful in their growing friendship.

The usual angst over coming out and family conflict are truly not part of the sophisticated tale. They are sexy, chic, and well-to-do. There are other conflicts that impede their relations, but Majd takes a job as housekeeper at Josha’s grandmother.

She is a delight too, as matchmaker and wise old lady.

These are intelligent young men, and their maturity makes for a story that appeals to all viewers. Josha is the one who has a hobby with his drone, and he sees Madj surfing from above. It is intriguing how connections are made.

Without a doubt, you seldom meet people in character movies that you really would like to spend time with, but these two are pleasant dinner companions.

What impediments to their friendship that must be overcome are not melodramatic and work out, making your time with this story fly like the drone, over the Netherlands and its beautiful world.

If you’ve been stung by horrible gay-themed movies of all stripes, you need your faith in a good film restored. This is the antidote.

Trump Turns into Typhoid Mary

DATELINE: NBA Comes in Second! 

If you need a little coronavirus history lesson, we are here to oblige.

Typhoid Mary was a 19thcentury Irish woman who was Patient Zero of her day. She went around the world, dispensing typhoid to anyone within her earshot. She herself never contracted the disease.

She was put into quarantine and only went to the supermarket to pick up hand sanitzer.

In that way she was like Johnny Appleseed, going around the countryside, planting infection.

Nowadays, the closest thing we have to Typhoid Mary is Donald Trump. Corona Trump seems to avoid having a test to prove his diseased body, but manages to meet with other world leaders. If you believe he has been tested and is negative, you probably are a U.S. Senator.

We think it’s time he went to North Korea again.

As for the NBA, no one likes to kick a basketball when it is out of bounds, but we will kick the can down the road.

Another NBA player has tested positive. He was guarding Rudy Gobert last week. It takes more than three days to develop coronavirus, and a player on the Detroit Pistons was in Gobert’s shirt last week, as they say of good defense.. Oh, well, do your job.

No one is mentioning that two kids from Rhode Island met Rudy Gobert at TD Garden in Boston, received an autographed ball, and a case of coronavirus. It took almost ten days to develop.

Nothing like spreading goodwill, NBA.

So, we are back to Typhoid Donald: he only had dinner and shook hands with people this week while being an incubator. We expect to see world leaders fall flat on their test kits within the next week. He and his crony, the Brazilian president, love to say “Fake Flu,” before you can say, “corona.”

We think Trump would be a better candidate for swine flu.

As for Trump, he just keeps sailing on, spreading cheer and coronavirus wherever he goes.

 

 

Serge Lifar: A Life with Ego & Dance

 DATELINE: Collaborator

 Lifar with Diaghilev & Stravinsky.

The French documentary is entitled A Revolution in Dance, and that is applied to Serge Lifar, a danseur and ballet maître who went from the era of Diaghilev to the dawn of Nureyev.

With covert and sly methods, the teenage Lifar managed to put himself before the grand Maestro—and caught the eye of the aging powerbroker. It led to an education, seven years of stardom in the Ballets Russes, and a future however Lifar chose to go.

After Diaghilev’s death in Venice, Lifar went to the Paris Opera House and made himself a home for thirty years. Literally, a home. He was there day and night, choreographing and plotting.

His outrageous demeanor became the stuff of social life and gossip columns. It was only incidental that he made ballets—and innovative ones too, Icare, based on the Greek legend of Icarus.

For a dozen years, he was the staple of the Opera House and transformed the focus of the Paris scene on dance. Then, the roof fell in: sort of.

When the Nazis captured Paris in 1940, Lifar was a stateless person—and played ball with Joseph Goebbels. He even met Hitler, at least twice we know of, and he allegedly refused to go to Berlin to start a corps de ballet there. We suspect Lifar would never deny Hitler directly. It led to charges later that he was a Nazi collaborator. He was even seen parading around in a Nazi uniform and the theatre for his performances were Aryan Nazi officers who loved his shows.

After the war, a tribunal banned him from dancing in France—but he wheedled his way out of that guilty verdict and was back on stage by 1947. You could say he overstayed his welcome, remaining a principal danseur until his mid-50s when his bones creaked over the stage.

When he finally retired, he was still a tabloid sensation, a good headline and an outrageous media person until he was 81 and the new era had fairly forgotten this legend.

More Lunacy: Whitey, UFOs, and MK-Ultra

DATELINE: Conspiracies Gone Amok?

Whitey as Man in Black

With more circumstantial evidence coming out about James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, you begin to think he will soon be the subject of Ancient Aliens as the Manchurian candidate of choice.

Yes, it appears that MK-Ultra, that mysterious CIA organization may have had more to do with LSD experiments on criminals and that could account for 16 years of missing time for Whitey when the Feds couldn’t find him.

Good heavens, can it be he was abducted by aliens who used him with the same experimental enthusiasm of our government agencies? After all, men in black have divided loyalties. Whitey would be the ironic Man in Black.

After all, Whitey was a split personality in his own way: preying off older gay men he picked up at gay bars around Boston in the 1950s, but also reserving the right to meet movie star Sal Mineo for some nefarious sexual purpose.

MK-Ultra is an off-shoot of the kind of occult UFO tie-in that the Nazis had with their notorious “Bell” project. You know, the one where the Nazis were experimenting with time travel with the help of ancient aliens living in Antarctica.

There are those who think Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis used the technology to speed away to another dimension, or through another dimension in their bell-shaped curve of time and space.

We once believed all this was fanciful and hallucinatory stuff coming out of the mouths of MK-Ultra victims who wanted an insanity defense at their trials.

Now we wonder if their fantasies and insanities correlate with other dimensional beings. Call us anything, but we haven’t done mind experiments with LSD. Our mind is more apt to be under the control of the Twilight Zoneof TV sci-fi.

You know those who know too much end up like Whitey, under federal prison protection, and assassinated. Only recently we saw the same scenario worked on Jeffrey Epstein. If you know too much, you are a sitting duck in a prison cell.