Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Set in 1980's East Berlin, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark's debut feature (which earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged. When a successful playwright and his actress companion become subjects of the Stasi's secret surveillance program, their friends, family and even those doing the watching find their lives changed too.

I just watched this film tonight. It is brilliant. It's about the struggle to retain one's humanity in trying circumstances, and how art, music, and theater can help us in that struggle.

Internet Movie Database Review
Wikipedia Review
Rotten Tomatoes' Reviews

Director's Statement:

German movies produced after the reunification generally, and strangely, depict the GDR (the German Democratic Republic or former East Germany) as funny or moving. Both my parents come from the East, so as a child, I was often in East Germany to visit friends or relatives. A cousin of my father's had been named chief of protocol of Erich Honecker, the East German head of state and boss of the ruling S.E.D. party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or the Socialist Unity Party of Germany). Other people we knew had very normal jobs, yet no one could see the fear in all of them, right up to the end of the regime. Fear of the Stasi (the State Security), fear of the 100,000 highly trained employees whose sights were trained on one thing: "The Lives of Others": the lives of those who thought differently, who were too free spirited and above all, the artists and people working in the arts. Every aspect of life was recorded. There was no private sphere and nothing was sacred, not even one's closest family members. I met Stasi victims who had been jailed and harassed in Hohenschonhausen (where the central detention center of the Stasi was located). I asked "unoffical agents" about their activities and I had talked to documentary filmmakers who had worked on these topics.

In the film, each character asks questions that we confront every day: how do we deal with power and ideology? Do we follow our principles or our feelings? More than anything else, THE LIVES OF OTHERS is a human drama about the ability of human beings to do the right thing, no matter how far they have gone down the wrong path.

~ Florian Henckel von Donnersmark

Political Activism: Impeach Dick Cheney


Friday, October 26, 2007


Trailer for the upcoming film, IN PRISON MY WHOLE LIFE, about the journey of Will Francome to look into the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was arrested for the murder of a police officer, Daniel Faulkner on the day Will was born.

The film was Directed by Marc Evans and features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, Angela Davis and many others.


Political Activism & Great Art: William Morris

The son of capitalist parents, William Morris became a pioneer Marxian socialist.

While a student at Oxford in the 1850s Morris was involved with a group of romantic artists known as the pre-Raphaelites because they reckoned that painting had degenerated after the Middle Ages with Raphael, the first Reformation painter. Morris tried his hand at painting but became more famous as a poet, though he was involved in a wide variety of arts and crafts.

Morris began his political life in the Radical wing of the Liberal Party. In the 1880 general election he worked for the return of Gladstone, but soon became disillusioned with the new Liberal government. In 1883 he joined the Democratic Federation, an association of working class radical clubs formed in 1881. Soon after Morris joined, it changed its name to the Social Democratic Federation, proclaiming Socialism as its aim and Marxism as its theory, though in fact it never did outlive its radical-Liberal origins as it continued to advocate the same reforms of capitalism.

Morris set about studying Marxism and there can be no doubt that he did understand Marx's ideas well enough to be regarded as a Marxist. But that was not all. John Ruskin had defined 'art' as the expression of man's pleasure in his labour. Morris wholeheartedly endorsed this definition of art, with its implication that people would produce beautiful things - things of everyday use, not mere decorations - if they enjoyed their work. It was recognition that capitalism denied most people pleasure in their work that led him to become a socialist.

Hyndman, the man who had been largely instrumental in founding the Democratic Federation, was an authoritarian and tried to run the SDF as his personal organisation. This led to discontent and eventually, at the end of 1884, to a split in which Morris became the key figure in the breakaway Socialist League. Unlike the reformist SDF, the Socialist League saw its task as simply to make socialists. As Morris wrote:
Our business, I repeat, is the making of socialists, i.e., convincing people that socialism is good for them and is possible. When we have enough people of that way of thinking, they will find out what action is necessary for putting their principles into practice. Until we have that mass of opinion, action for a general change that will benefit the whole people is impossible. (Where Are We Now?, 1890)
Morris found himself as the main theorist of the Socialist League. He never denied that the working class could capture political power, including parliament; but his refusal to advocate the use of parliament to get reforms upset a group, including Marx's daughter Eleanor, who in the end broke away from the Socialist League. This left Morris at the mercy of the real anti-parliamentarians and anarchists, who eventually came to dominate the League with their advocacy of violence and bomb throwing. In 1890 Morris and the Hammersmith branch seceded, carrying on independent socialist activity as the Hammersmith Socialist Society.

William Morris was an outstanding socialist activist: he frequently toured the country giving talks and wrote a prodigious amount of literature, culminating in his masterpiece about a socialist utopia, News from Nowhere (1890). He died in 1896, but eight years later the Socialist Party was formed from a group that broke with the SDF (and for much the same reasons as the League). The Socialist Party, when formulating its Declaration of Principles in 1904, drew heavily upon the Manifesto of the Socialist League that was drafted by Morris.


Coleman, S. and O'Sullivan, P., William Morris and News from Nowhere: A Vision for Our Time, 1990.

Thompson, E.P., William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary, 1977.

The Life and Death of Jason.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Political Activism: The Discreet Charm of The Ruling Class

By Deepak Chopra:
Elected officials are sent to Washington to govern but not to rule. This may sound like a question of semantics or at best a fine distinction. But rulership isn’t a legitimate part of democracy. When a governing class develops in a democratic society, it loses contact with the people who elect it. In many ways America is burdened with such a class, which has amassed power over the past fifty years, until it arrived at a place where its right to rule goes almost unchallenged.

Who belongs to the ruling class? One might start with the wealthy lawyers who form an inordinate percentage of senators and congressmen, then move on to the corporations whose lobbyists write the very laws that are supposed to regulate corporations. Working hand in hand, these two blocs form a privileged class that feels free to ignore what the American people actually want.

An unexpected benefit of the Bush years is that the ruling class may have gone too far. A culture of corruption binds Congress and lobbyists to an unheard of degree. Bill after bill, earmark after earmark, has blatantly served special interests. Both parties are guilty of kowtowing to money and the corporations that dispense it with shameless abandon — the buying and selling of political favors has never been so outrageous. Influence peddling, once a crime, has become the norm.


The betrayal of democracy hasn’t escaped notice, and the Democrats have promised, once they gain the White House, to sweep away the distorted policies of the right wing. Yet we can only watch and wait. The end of neoconservatives won’t end the war. Nor will it depose sitting judges or weaken lobbyists or bring in a new class of congressmen who aren’t beholden to moneyed interests. The entire government has become entangled in the problem, and it will take an awakened electorate to undo the harm that has been done already. The key to an optimistic, progressive America — the America that threatens to turn into a dream of the past — lies in a renewed belief in an open society and trust in the principles of democracy. Do you want to be governed or ruled?
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Political Activism: Candidate Calculator

If you are having trouble deciding which Presidential candidate to support, take THIS TEST.

My Top Matches
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) - 93.33%
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (D) - 93.33%
Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) - 86.67%
New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) - 73.33%

Middle of the Pack:
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards (D) - 73.33%
Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd (D) - 66.67%
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden (D) - 60.00%
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) - 60.00%

Texas Representative Ron Paul (R) - 46.67%
Businessman John Cox (R) - 46.67%
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) - 33.33%
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) - 33.33%
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (R) - 26.67%
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) - 26.67%

Bottom of the Barrel:
Arizona Senator John McCain (R) - 20.00%
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson (R) - 20.00%
California Representative Duncan Hunter (R) - 6.67%
Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo (R) - 6.67%

Well, I was right on earlier by picking Dennis Kucinich as my favorite Democratic candidate and Ron Paul as my favorite Republican candidate. But John Cox??? Yikes!

Political Activism: Who Owns You Americans?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great Art: Rufino Tamayo

NEW YORK - A painting stolen 20 years ago was found lying in trash along a street, and now it could fetch up to $1 million at auction.

Elizabeth Gibson didn't know anything about the brightly colored abstract work she spotted on her morning walk four years ago on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sotheby's auction house will be selling the work next month for the now-widowed original owner.

"I would say it was an appointment with destiny," Gibson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I just knew it meant something. ... It was extremely powerful, and even though I didn't understand it. I knew it had power."
Read the entire story here.

Artsy’s Rufino Tamayo page

Great Art: Chris Jordan

Building Blocks, 2007
16 feet tall x 32 feet wide in eighteen square panels, each sized 62x62".

Depicts nine million wooden ABC blocks, equal to the number of American children with no health insurance coverage in 2007.
With figures drawn for scale reference:
Partial zoom:

Cans Seurat, 2007

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.Partial zoom:
Detail at actual size:
This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. My underlying desire is to affirm and sanctify the crucial role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~Chris Jordan, Seattle, 2007


Imagine this . . . . . .

The formation of a new Third Party.

A new Moral and Political Revolution.

A new Exit Strategy that will end the war and stabilize Iraq without genocide and safely replace our troops immediately, and allow only the people – not the White House or Congress – to declare and end wars.

In addition to the major political theme, there are four other separate and totally different themes in the new Billy Jack film, woven into four major love stories just like in the original BILLY JACK, seen here:

A New Genre of Film combining fiction film with cinema verite, reality film, documentary and computer graphics, making it one of the more unusual Feature Films yet made.

For example … Remember Forrest Gump talking with President Kennedy? Imagine Billy Jack in a live heated debate with the real George Bush over whether Bush lied – and continues to lie – to sell the Iraq War.

Because America is “the only Nation founded for a Moral Purpose … the rights of every man, everywhere,” the film shows Mainstream America how to restore America to It’s Moral Purpose and make it once again the great moral superpower of the world … the “shining city on the hill.”

The new BILLY JACK sequel will be the first film to launch a multi-faceted Political, Sexual, Spiritual and Psychological Revolution.

Get your tickets here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Political Activism: The Politics Test

My scores:
You are a

Social Liberal
(95% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(0% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist (0e/95s)

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. l

Link: The Politics Test

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you are!

Also, on my Christmas list this year, the following bumper stickers for my Volvo:

On health care issues:
I support Ron Paul, a Libertarian, because he supports a patient's right to health care freedom (give the patient options and let the patient choose), because he opposes forced vaccinations, and because he is into alternative and natural health.
I support Dennis Kucinich, a Green Democrat, because he wants a single-payer, not-for-profit national health care system.
Wouldn't it be great if we could have both?
Health care freedom and free health care for all!

BOTH candidates would like to abolish the time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim, which I completely agree with.

I will blog about this issue separately soon, as I have been through health care hell and have a lot to write about on this issue.



Socialism is when the public wealth is moderately controlled by a governing body so as to make sure that there is a public trust to provide necessities to all of the people, (i.e. education, housing, food, water, health care, clothing, etc.).

Fascism is when the government is tightly in bed with the corporations and makes decisions that benefit the corporations first. It assumes that all people and corporations have the same needs and anyone who disagrees is seen as an enemy. It is also heavily nationalistic.

Capitalism allows all wealth to be owned and amassed privately and prefers that the only control applied is the actions of the market upon corporations. It provides no guarantee of necessary services to the public good.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Art Exhibits: Martin Luther King Jr.

Nov. 14 - Apr. 29

"Martin Luther King Jr.: Life, Times and Legacy" presented by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

The exhibit explores the social issues of the civil rights era and recognizes King's contribution by examining the art that was created in response to the political and cultural pressures and opportunities of the late 1950s and 1960s.

King's legacy is examined through contemporary works that explore the themes of race and injustice in America. These works ask visitors to compare and contrast the climate of today with the that of King's lifetime and asses the progress of a people and a nation.

The exhibit opens Nov. 14 and runs through April 29.

Museum hours: Wed-Fri, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat and Sun, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. First Thursday of the month. Admission: $10 adults, $8 senior citizens, $5 students (age 13 through College with ID); children 12 and younger and museum members, free. First Thursday admission: $5. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St., Hartford. Information: 860-244-2999.


Political Activism: WAR IS OVER

From the exhibition 'Odyssey of a Cockroach' by Yoko Ono 2004

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Great Art: Jeff HughART

ANN COULTER: Perfect for Halloween!

MODEL IN BLACK HAT, 30 x 40 acrylic, 2007

The artist at work.

Jeff Hughart's website here.
His work sells FAST.

UPDATE 10/17/07: I just bought the Ann Coulter!! Thanks Jeff.
I will win the Scariest Costume prize at the Collinsville Halloween Parade this year for sure!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Health Care: Boom Time For Dentists $$$

In today's edition of The New York Times:

For American dentists, times have never been better.

The same cannot be said for Americans’ teeth.

With dentists’ fees rising far faster than inflation and more than 100 million people lacking dental insurance, the percentage of Americans with untreated cavities began rising this decade, reversing a half-century trend of improvement in dental health.


In some cases, the results of poor dental care have been deadly. A child in Mississippi and another in Maryland died this year from infections caused by decayed teeth.


Dentists’ incomes have grown faster than that of the typical American and the incomes of medical doctors. Formerly poor relations to physicians, American dentists in general practice made an average salary of $185,000 in 2004, the most recent data available. That figure is similar to what non-specialist doctors make, but dentists work far fewer hours. Dental surgeons and orthodontists average more than $300,000 annually.

“Dentists make more than doctors,” said Morris M. Kleiner, a University of Minnesota economist. “If I had a kid going into the sciences, I’d tell them to become a dentist.”


The dental profession’s critics — who include public health experts, some physicians and even some dental school professors — say that too many dentists are focused more on money than medicine.

“Most dentists consider themselves to be in the business of dentistry rather than the practice of dentistry,” said Dr. David A. Nash, a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky. “I’m a cynic about my profession, but the data are there. It’s embarrassing.”


“The dentists don’t want to see these kids [on Medicaid],” Dr. [Amos S.] Deinard said.

Full story here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Great Art: Paul Behnke

Man O'War, acrylic on panel, 42 in. x 42 in.

Howard Roark's Dream, acrylic on panel, 42 in. x 42 in.

More of Paul's work here.
See Paul's blog here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Right Brain vs. Left Brain

Click on the photo below:
Do you see the dancer turning clockwise or counter-clockwise?
If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning counter-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

(I am just the opposite. No matter how hard I concentrate, I can NOT see the dancer turning counter-clockwise. I honestly do not think I have a left brain!)

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking


Please leave a comment and let me know whether you are left or right brained!

Political Activism: Imagine Peace

On October 9th 2007, Yoko Ono will unveil the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER on Videy Island, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Dedicated to the memory of her late husband John Lennon on what would have been his 67th birthday, the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will shine as a beacon for World Peace.

Sponsored by the City of Reykjavik, the Reykjavik Art Museum and Reykjavik Energy, the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will be surrounded by more than 495,000 PEACE WISHES from people worldwide that the artist has collected since 1981 as part of her interactive Wish Tree exhibits.
The wishes will be stored in capsules and buried surrounding the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER.

Yoko Ono invites you to join her and thousands of others by sending your PEACE WISHES to the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER for October 9th.

A dream you dream alone is only a dream
A dream you dream together is reality
Yoko Ono

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
John Lennon

I hope the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion.
Let us come together to realize a peaceful world.

Yoko Ono

Monday, October 8, 2007

Political Activism: Columbus Day

Columbus didn't discover America and he was not the first to prove the world wasn't flat. Columbus was a slave trading pirate and murderer. So, today is the celebration of a genocidal thief.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Political Activism: Rally To End The War, NYC

We can end this war!

October 27, 2007

Assemble at 12 noon

Broadway, north of Union Square

March at 1:00pm

More info here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Faux Painting: Venetian Plaster and Strie

Gray venetian plaster and black strie in an apartment just put on the market in Gothenburg, Sweden:

Nice work!