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Dragged Across Concrete

S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) is back with a solid and satisfyingly rough follow-up to the jaw-dropping Brawl in Cell Block 99, reuniting with Vince Vaughn and teaming him up with Mel Gibson in a literally gut-ripping, downbeat buddy cop brutalizer. Seasoned detective Brett Ridgeman (Gibson) and partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vaughn) are caught on video using excessive force in the apprehension of a Hispanic drug dealer, creating a scandal for their police department, and get suspended without pay by their superior (Don Johnson). Both men need money – Lurasetti because he plans to propose marriage to his girlfriend, and Ridgeman because his daughter is no longer safe in their ghettoized neighborhood and the family needs to get out. At the extent of his tether, Ridgeman hatches a half-baked plan to rip off a heroin dealer that winds up with him and his partner pitted against a gang of formidable paramilitary bank heisters. A career highlight for Gibson equal to his over-the-hill hero roles in Edge of Darkness and Blood Father, and yet another impressive entry in Vaughn’s growing résumé of scary tough guy characters after True Detective and Brawl in Cell Block 99.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dragged Across Concrete is:

8. Anti-drug. Tory Kittles plays ex-con Henry Johns, whose stint in prison illustrates a very possible outcome for a dealer. His mother, a heroin addict, has turned to prostitution. It is also mentioned that the dealer Ridgeman mistreats has been selling drugs to children, undermining any potential audience sympathy for the criminal.

7. Ableist! Lurasetti compares a hearing-impaired woman’s speech to a dolphin’s.

6. Anti-Semitic! Writer-director Zahler, as Soiled Sinema’s Ty E. puts it, is an artist who seems to have “transcended his Jewishness”, which may account for the brief and harmless but stereotype-oozing portrayal of the friendly jeweler Feinbaum, who says his wife has two brothers who are therapists and three sisters who are lawyers.

feinbaum

5. Homophobic! Henry dismisses his “cocksuckin’ father” as “a yesterday who ain’t worth words.” Disapprovingly, Ridgeman fails to see “much of a difference these days” between men and women, and also mocks Lurasetti’s “gay hair shit” disguise.

4. Media-critical. Chief Lieutenant Calvert (Johnson) derides the anti-police bias of “the entertainment industry formally known as ‘the news’”, which “needs villains” and fabricates them if necessary.

3. Natalist, i.e., sexist! Unexpectedly, the movie features a tender (albeit offbeat) portrait of a new mother, Kelly Summer (Jennifer Carpenter), desperately trying to avoid going back to work after using up her maternity leave. The necessity of keeping a job seems cruel and absurd now that she has a baby. Her proper place, she realizes, is at home with her child, and her boss, Mr. Edmington (Fred Melamed) describes her as a “radiant vision of maternity”. The section of Dragged Across Concrete that follows Kelly is even more affecting on a second viewing.

2. Class-conscious. “My job [in a bank] is so stupid,” Kelly laments. “I go there and I sell chunks of my life for a paycheck so that rich people I’ve never even met can put money in places I’ve never even seen.” Henry’s little brother Ethan, meanwhile, sees big game hunting as “rich white people shit”. There is also the suggestion that those with wealth have the means to elude the law, as Ridgeman at some point in the past allowed the son of businessman Friedrich (Udo Kier) to escape punishment for an unnamed crime in exchange for a future favor from the well-connected father. Ridgeman no longer believes in a meritocratic American dream. “I don’t politick and I don’t change with the times and turns that that shit’s more important than good, honest work,” he tells his partner, determining: “We have the skills and the right to acquire proper compensation” for thankless years of public service.

1.Race-realist – with exceptions. “They’re so cute before they get big,” says Ridgeman’s daughter Sara (Jordyn Ashley Olson) – ostensibly with reference to lion cubs, but subtextually referring to the black boys who harass her when she walks home from school. “This fucking neighborhood, it just keeps getting worse and worse,” frets Mrs. Ridgeman (Laurie Holden). “You know I never thought I was a racist before living in this area. I’m about as liberal as any ex-cop could ever be, but now,” she demands, “we really need to move” or else, “someday, you and me,” she tells her husband, “we are in a hospital room with our daughter talking to a rape counselor.”

Ridgeman and his partner are both depicted as casual racists. “I’m not racist,” Lurasetti jokes: “Every Martin Luther King Day I order a cup of dark roast.” In a twenty-first century world in which “digital eyes are everywhere”, however, old-school law-and-order enforcers like Ridgeman and Lurasetti are living on borrowed time. “Like cell phones, and just as annoying, politics are everywhere,” Calvert observes. “Being branded a racist in today’s public forum is like being accused of communism in the fifties. Whether it’s a possibly offensive remark made in a private phone call or the indelicate treatment of a minority who sells drugs to children […] It’s bullshit – but it’s reality.”

Softening Dragged Across Concrete’s racial edge is the presence of Henry, the conspicuous specimen of Africanus cinematicus played by Tory Kittles. This ghetto thug with the soul of a poet is given to saying things like, “Before I consider that kind of vocation, I need to get myself acclimated” and is at all times depicted as being more astute than those around him. His little brother Ethan, too, is portrayed as an underprivileged but bright lad of great potential. The case can be made that Dragged Across Concrete makes examples of its most prominent bigots by punishing them while rewarding Henry in the end. Ridgeman, who has refused to change with the times, is taught the important lesson that he “should have trusted a nigger.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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fta

“The show the Pentagon couldn’t stop!” Sure …

I have previously discussed the dubious “anti-war” credentials of countercultural figures Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda, who played the part of rebellious hippies within the Hollywood elite. No film better encapsulates their fraud or the fabricated nature of the corporate counterculture than Francine Schoenholtz’s ridiculous 1972 documentary FTA, which stands for “Fuck the Army”. The film follows Fonda, Sutherland, and other performers as they tour Japan and the Philippines, performing unfunny comedy routines and hokey protest songs for American servicemen. Schoenholtz’s previous work included a 1966 series of one-hour plays for PBS called Jews and History – and FTA itself and the culture creation it represents comprise a singular Jewish contribution to American military and pop-cultural history.

The film is as much a promotion of subversion as it is a polemic against the war in Vietnam. The poster, boasting its image of a stoned Donald Sutherland, is an undisguised attempt to associate anti-war activism with drug culture, and much of FTA is devoted to glorifying communism, feminism, vulgarity, bad grooming, and loutish black militancy, with the U.S. characterized as a racist society perpetrating genocide against both the Vietnamese and American blacks. FTA’s pose of revolutionism notwithstanding, is the audience really expected to believe that this troupe of anti-American undesirables would have been allowed anywhere near U.S. military bases overseas unless the production had at least the tacit approval of powerful persons within the American government? Would U.S. Army and Navy personnel be permitted to participate in the production of a film if it authentically sought, as FTA pretends, to goad soldiers into turning their guns against their leaders? It was during the week of the film’s premiere in July of 1972 that Fonda, just to present the anti-war movement in the worst possible light, notoriously visited Hanoi and posed for a photo with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

Producing and completing post-production on FTA was Igo Kantor, who tells the story of his involvement in the project in an interview he granted for the DVD release of the stupid woman vigilante movie Alley Cat (1984). He remembers that “Technicolor came to me and they said they would like to do a show on Jane Fonda going with a group of people, the FTA group, musical group, all over the Pacific Rim, all of Vietnam, all those countries, and do a show about the counter [to] the Bob Hope Christmas shows,” which were being produced by NBC, then owned by the defense contractor RCA. “The Bob Hope Christmas shows were dignifying the war movement because he was performing for the troops all over, every Christmas he’d go to one of these towns where the war took place and he would have shows – and I was the editor on the Bob Hope Christmas shows for six years. […] But then Technicolor said Jane Fonda would like to do a show to counteract that. Instead of heroining the war, let’s be pro-peace,” Kantor recounts, smiling sardonically.

That RCA would produce television programming “dignifying the war movement” is hardly surprising; but that Technicolor, a subsidiary of the defense contractor Thomson-CSF, would approach Kantor to produce a radical “pro-peace” hippie extravaganza, even hiring the same editor, is more interesting. “So she [i.e., Jane Fonda] went [to Vietnam] and the amazing thing is, here I was working in this building on Highland Avenue [in Los Angeles] and Jane Fonda, I gave her an office upstairs, and she and Don Sutherland were together at that time […] and Bob Hope had an office downstairs, and Bob Hope knew about this and he says, ‘Igo, what’s going on here, what, you’re working on my show, which is pro-war, and you’re working another show that’s anti-war?’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, I will not mix the footages. They’ll not be the same show, don’t worry about it.’ And sometimes,” Kantor remembers, bemused, “they used to go up and down the stairs and throw darts at each other. Bob Hope and Jane Fonda were, my God, crazy.” So, by Kantor’s own admission, the entertainment industry’s representative pro-war and anti-war exemplars were literally working out of the same building and frolicking on the stairs and enjoying hijinks – but that was surely just a coincidence – right?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

jeffries

Donald Jeffries

Conspiracy investigator and Hidden History author Donald Jeffries, in a recent column for American Free Press, offers a few remarks on the current state of Hollywood and television that warrant quotation. “While once prevalent genres like westerns and variety shows have come and gone, programs about police officers still hold a prominent place in every television network’s schedules,” Jeffries writes:

Much as the conventional left only protests police brutality when it can be portrayed in predictable “racist” terms, Hollywood generally adores our police forces. The popularity of the television show Cops attests to just how successful this strategy has been. On that program, the officers obviously know they’re being filmed, and yet their misconduct still shines through clearly. On CSI types of modern shows, the always suitably diverse police officers are honest, upstanding public servants. They are also laughably portrayed as brilliant detectives. In real life, cops are in some cases incompetent. For instance, during the time of the D.C. sniper shootings the perpetrators had to call the FBI hotline repeatedly to point out that there was a note they’d left tacked to a tree at a crime scene, which the investigators had somehow missed.

Onscreen, all street criminals are white. Often they seem to have walked off the set of a 1930s Warner Brothers picture. In real life, crime in every big city is virtually white-free. Black and Hispanic gangs rule that turf. But not in Metropolis or Gotham City. You’ll never see Spider-man or Batman fight a Blood or a Crip – or even a Hell’s Angel. But nearly every judge or police commissioner will be black. It’s maddeningly predictable and unrealistic, but it fits into the paternalistic, condescending attitude establishment “liberals” have toward minorities, especially blacks.1

If you didn’t get the memo before, you’ve got it now, Hollywood. We want Morgan Freeman selling crack on a corner in the next Batman!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

Endnotes

  1. Jeffries, Donald. “Hollywood Operating in La-La Land”. American Free Press vol. 18, no. 41-42 (Ocotober 8-15, 2018), p. 27.

 

The following material is excerpted from my recently published book, Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies.

front cover

Sirhan Sirhan, the man who has been characterized as both the first “Palestinian terrorist” as well as the quintessential “Manchurian Candidate”, was described after his alleged assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 as having been “motivated by Kennedy’s support for Israel.” Sirhan is supposed to have written in a notebook, “Kennedy must die by June 5th” (i.e., the anniversary of the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967)1. Sirhan retracted his initial admission of guilt in the crime, claiming to have been “hypno-programmed” by the assassination’s plotters. Indeed, more than one researcher has suggested that Los Angeles sex therapist and hypnosis expert William J. Bryan did the programming. “Bryan, a self-proclaimed eccentric character, once boasted to two of his favorite prostitutes that he, in fact, had hypnotized Sirhan and had worked on ‘top secret’ CIA projects,” writes Forgotten Terrorist author Mel Ayton. “Bryan’s most famous hypnotic subject was the notorious Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, whose name appeared in Sirhan’s notebooks.”2

Bryan served as a technical advisor on John Frankenheimer’s film The Manchurian Candidate (1962)3, which is about a brainwashed assassin. Frankenheimer had been a successful television director in 1960 when he declined an offer to work for the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign. (According to Frankenheimer, United Artists executive Arthur Krim had aspirations to become the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and was reluctant to green-light The Manchurian Candidate for fear it would upset Kennedy; Krim is supposed to have relented, however, after learning that JFK was a fan of Condon’s novel4.) Frankenheimer, who said he “felt guilty” after the Kennedy assassination for not having done the work for his campaign, proceeded to insinuate himself with the Robert F. Kennedy camp: “when his [i.e., JFK’s] brother declared his candidacy in ’68, I immediately called Pierre Salinger and said, ‘Pierre, I want to be part of this.’” “I never left him,” Frankenheimer recalled. “I was there with him for 102 days.”5

frankenheimer

John Frankenheimer

“Bobby became best friends with me,” the director claimed. “He was staying with me in Malibu, and I drove him to the Ambassador Hotel where he was shot.”6 Frankenheimer further related a strange circumstance of this “defining moment” of his life to interviewer Alex Simon. “You were supposed to be up on the dais with him at the Ambassador, weren’t you?” Simon asked. “Yes, then at the last moment, it was decided that having a film director up on stage with him wasn’t the image they wanted, so we had [Kennedy’s labor advisor,] a friend named Paul Schrade, who was about my size and complexion, take my place,” Frankenheimer recounted. “And he was one of the three people shot in the kitchen.”7 Schrade, who survived, has maintained ever since that day that Sirhan only served to create a distraction and that the shots that killed RFK were fired from behind the candidate’s back8.

Ed Sanders, in his biography of Sharon Tate, relates that Sirhan Sirhan, the alleged assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, was reported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to have been “attending parties on behalf of the Satanist English cult [the Process Church], including one at Sharon Tate’s place.” Sanders points to a possible motivation for the Tate murder that had absolutely nothing to do with some Mansonian (or Bugliosian) notion of an apocalyptic “Helter Skelter” war:

INS criminal investigator Richard Smith’s report stated that an LA law enforcement agency had a female informant who averred that the English Satanist group had commissioned Manson to kill Sharon Tate. […] The reason for the contract […] was “something that she unfortunately overheard that she was not supposed to overhear either in regards to Sirhan Sirhan or about Sirhan Sirhan.”9

Sirhan Sirhan

Sirhan Sirhan

Tate’s acting coach at the time was an Israeli, Zev Lahav, who went by the name “Laurence Merrick” and had been sent to the U.S. to promote Zionist interests10. Lahav, with partner Robert Hendrickson, produced a documentary, Manson (1973), about the Family, which included interviews conducted both before and after the Tate-LaBianca murders. Members of the Manson Family had come to visit the set of Lahav’s previous film, Black Angels, in 1969 – an eerie circumstance considering the race war plotline’s resemblance to the “Helter Skelter” scenario later attributed to Manson by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who participated in the making of Lahav’s Manson documentary. Another of Lahav’s films of 1969, interesting in view of his Tate-Manson connections, is Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?, which is concerned with occult ritualism and mind control (and even features a minor character named Sharon) and was filmed at the Magic Castle, which, as Scott Michaels points out in the documentary Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (2009), sits a few dozen yards from the Franklin Garden Apartments where Charles Manson shot Bernard Crowe over a bad drug deal – also very near the Franklin Avenue apartments from which Manson ran a prostitution ring called 3-Star Enterprises.

Frankenheimer, over the course of his career, would direct a number of movies with explicitly Jewish and anti-Nazi themes: The Train (1964), The Fixer (1968), Black Sunday (1977), The Holcroft Covenant (1985), and Dead Bang (1989). Black Sunday, in particular, depicts the Israelis as allies against Islamic terrorism. Indeed, the assassination of RFK, as Ayton puts it, “might be the first act of the tragedy that culminated in 9/11”11.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood.

Endnotes

  1. Troy, Gil. “Understanding RFK’s Assassination as Palestinian Terror”. The Jerusalem Post (June 5, 2013): http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=364591
  2. Ayton, Mel. The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, pp. 6-7.
  3. Vaughn, Robert. A Fortunate Life. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008, pp. 260-261.
  4. “Dialogue on Film: John Frankenheimer”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 96.
  5. Simon, Alex. “John Frankenheimer: Renaissance Auteur”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, pp. 149-151.
  6. Hart, Hugh. “Frankenheimer Knew Period’s Main Players”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 213.
  7. Simon, Alex. “John Frankenheimer: Renaissance Auteur”, in Armstrong, Stephen B., Ed. John Frankenheimer: Interviews, Essays, and Profiles. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 151.
  8. Post, Paul. “Schrade Still Seeks Justice for RFK: Senator Was Assassinated 47 Years Ago, June 5, 1968”. Saratogian (June 5, 2015): http://www.saratogian.com/article/ST/20150605/NEWS/150609842
  9. Sanders, Ed. Sharon Tate: A Life. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2015, p. 266.
  10. K., Rainer Chlodwig von. “Israel, Manson, and Vampirism: The Freaky Life of Laurence Merrick”. Ideological Content Analysis (May 4, 2017): https://icareviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/israel-manson-and-vampirism-the-freaky-life-of-laurence-merrick/
  11. Ayton, Mel. The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, p. 11.

Nomads

John McTiernan, director of Hollywood blockbusters Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990), began his movie career rather more humbly with the flawed and eccentric but nonetheless entertaining debut Nomads (1986). Notable as McTiernan’s only credit as a screenwriter, Nomads was eviscerated by the critics when first released, and still has only a 13% green splat at Rotten Tomatoes. “Was there any sense in it?” asks leading lady Lesley-Anne Down in an interview included on the Nomads Blu-ray. “I don’t think there was very much sense in it at all for anybody.” Is Down correct in dismissing the film as a shallowly offbeat curio – and were the critics who panned the movie motivated only by an objective assessment of its merits?

Nomads stars Pierce Brosnan as a French anthropologist, Jean Charles Pommier, who in the opening sequence dies in the care of Down’s character, Dr. Eileen Flax, in a Los

Down

Lesley-Anne Down freaks out in John McTiernan’s Nomads.

Angeles hospital. He appears in a beaten, bloodied, and seemingly insane state, and his enigmatic last words initiate what will be a strange paranormal ordeal for Flax, who over the course of the film will both investigate and experience what befell Pommier, with most of the story told in flashback. The anthropologist and his wife (Anna Maria Monticelli) had only recently moved to the U.S. and purchased a house that, as it turns out, has a horrible history attached to it. Soon after moving in, the Pommiers discover Mansonesque graffiti on the garage door and more graffiti inside: “Gutman’s a Hero”. The home, they learn, was the site of a horrific child murder, and a band of elusive antisocial misfits who live out of a van have adopted the house as a holy site.

Pommier, being an anthropologist, follows the titular “nomads” around Los Angeles with the intention of documenting and studying them in order to gain a better idea of the threat he faces and to understand “what kind of people could think of a murder as some sort of shrine.” He determines that none of them have employment and watches them from a distance as they laze at the beach, party, and generally terrorize people. The nomads become aware of Pommier’s surveillance after he witnesses them murder a man and put the body in a dumpster. After first being pursued by them and escaping, Pommier again works his way into proximity with the group – at which point they seem to accept his presence and stage an impromptu photo shoot, with one of them, Mary, played by Mary Woronov, doing an exotic dance. When Pommier develops the film, however, he finds that none of the nomads appear in the exposures, which invites a comparison with vampires – although the nomads, who have no problem frolicking in the daylight, are clearly not vampires at least as conventionally depicted.

These quasi-vampires – vampire lore comprising a traditional understanding of the eternal Jew – are nomads, or what Pommier, drawing on Eskimo legends, describes as an urban variety of Innuat. As related in the film, “It has to do with wandering the desert. […] It’s all the same. Nomads live in deserts, whether it’s a desert of ice or sand or whatever doesn’t make a difference. […] They were supposedly hostile spirits. According to the myth, they were capable of assuming a human form” and traveled from place to place, bringing ruin and madness with them wherever they went. As Pommier tells his wife:

None of this may mean anything. None of it at all. […] But I may have found people who are living outside – outside any structure. They do not participate. No exchange, no constraints. They resort to violence with no provocation and then get away with it. It is as if to the official world they did not exist.

All of this rootlessness, in combination with the confluence of ritual, child murder, the reverence for a killer with the Jewish name Gutman, as well as the general depravity and destructiveness, contributes to an accumulation of clues that the nomads may be the Jews. Curiously, composer Bill Conti mentions during his Blu-ray interview that the soundtrack includes what he describes as a “Middle Eastern sound” – though to this reviewer’s untrained ear such a flavoring is difficult to detect in the synth-and-guitars music cues.

Adam Ant Nomads

Adam Ant portrays the leader of the titular band of roving marauders.

“You must not try to fight them,” a sinister nun (Blue Velvet’s Frances Bay) tells Pommier. This encounter takes place in a dilapidated cathedral where, in a sequence of nightmarish phantasmagoria, a flock of satanic women in habits is seen running through the halls in masks, one of them flashing her bare breasts at Pommier – all of which points to a faith corrupted. Dancing Mary, the nomad portrayed by Mary Woronov, wears a cross that glints in the sun, and later, when she is seen at night, she wears an even larger crucifix so that the viewer can hardly help but notice it as she cavorts like a stripper. Are these Christian elements ironic and indicative of cultural subversion, or have these been added as fig leaves to hide the almost naked Jewishness of the menace? Woronov’s features, it must be noted, are rather evil and arguably Semitic-looking.

In a key moment toward the end of the film, Pommier says to his wife with an air of wistfulness as they survey the Los Angeles skyline from a rooftop, “We are so very far from home, you know. All of us.” He laments his “bourgeois” life in a “civilized” world – in short, bemoans his condition of rootless cosmopolitanism. Both he and his kindred spirit the doctor, another childless middle-aged professional in the process of moving into a new and foreign home, have agricultural surnames, Pommier (“apple tree”) and Flax, that betray their simple origins and relatedness to the earth – Flax also connoting blonde and distinctively northern European looks – that set them apart from the dark, mysterious wanderers who move in their midst. Pommier’s polyglot cosmopolitanism, peripatetic ways, and sophistication nevertheless present a thematic parallel with the lifestyle of the nomads, so that it comes as no surprise when Pommier finally succumbs to them. The horror of Nomads is loss of a sense of belonging to a place and one’s own native culture – the horror of an alienated world in which, for instance, Dr. Flax’s colleague Cassie Miller (Jeannie Elias) complains about the “meshuggenah lunatics” who people the city. Whatever the meaning of the film, it may be worth observing that it is set in the entertainment capital of the world and that the final nomad antagonist Dr. Flax encounters is unable to pursue her beyond the California state line.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

buzz-aldrin

Buzz Aldrin with Mickey Rooney

In 2002, Buzz Aldrin made the news again when he punched moon landing skeptic Bart Sibrel in front of Café Rodeo at the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills. Sibrel, making a nuisance of himself, had planted himself in Aldrin’s path and demanded that the astronaut swear on a Bible that he had landed on the moon in 1969. Aldrin’s reaction was that of a self-important and temperamental actor rather than that of a disciplined man of science. Aldrin discusses the episode in his 2009 autobiography, Magnificent Desolation.

Like most Americans, I’m quite skeptical about conspiracy theories. I’m someone who has dealt with the exact science of space rendezvous and orbital mechanics, so to have someone approach me and seriously suggest that Neil, Mike, and I never actually went to the moon – that the entire trip had been staged in a sound studio someplace – has to rank among the most ludicrous ideas I’ve ever heard. Yet somehow the media has given credence to some of the kooky people espousing such theories, and my fellow astronauts and I have had to put up with the consequences.1

Hollywood, indeed, alluded to the possibility of a faked lunar landing as early as the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, and the 1977 thriller Capricorn One concerns the cover-up of a faked Mars mission.

The media treated Aldrin like a hero again, however, after assaulting conspiracy theorist Sibrel – and it is interesting to note that the story received news coverage coinciding with the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Here is Aldrin’s account of the “Blow Heard ‘Round the World” in his book Magnificent Desolation:

Because of the publicity the hoax theorists have garnered, occasionally even in a serious interview a reporter will broach the subject. One September morning in 2002, I was in Beverly Hills at the Luxe Hotel, filming a television interview for a Far Eastern TV network, when the interview began going in a direction that I knew was out of bounds. At first I tried to be cordial, adroitly answering the question, assuming the interviewer would recognize my reluctance to talk about inanity, and bring the focus back to a bona fide space subject. Instead the interviewer began playing a television segment that had aired in the United States on the subject of hoaxes, including a section suggesting that the Apollo 11 moon landing never happened. I was aware of the piece and had been livid when it originally aired. I did not appreciate the interviewer’s attempts to lure me into commenting on it. Lisa [Cannon, Aldrin’s stepdaughter] had accompanied me to the interview following her early morning triathlon training in the Santa Monica Bay, and she immediately recognized that this was a flagrant violation of our willingness to conduct the interview in good faith, so she called a halt to the production. We weren’t belligerent, but we did not linger long over our good-byes, either.

lisa-cannon

Lisa Cannon

We left the hotel room and walked down the hall to catch the elevator, only a matter of seconds away. I pressed the button for the ground level, and Lisa and I looked at each other and smiled. It had been a strange morning already. When the elevator doors opened on the ground level, it got worse.

As we stepped out into the hotel foyer, a large man who looked to be in his mid-thirties approached me, attempting to engage me in conversation. “Hey, Buzz, how are you?” He had his own film crew along, with the camera already rolling to document the encounter.

I greeted him briefly, acknowledging his presence, and kept moving – standard procedure for life in Hollywood. As Lisa and I walked through the foyer toward the front door of the hotel, however, the man kept getting in my way, peppering me with questions, none of which I answered. Lisa took my arm and glared at the man. “That’s enough,” she said, as I could feel her pressure on my arm guiding me toward the door. “Please let us alone; we’re leaving now.”

We stepped outside under the hotel awning, and the film crew continued right along with us. Lisa’s car was parked across the street on Rodeo Drive, but there was no crosswalk nearby, and the traffic was brisk.

Meanwhile, the “interviewer” had taken out a very large Bible and was shaking it in my face, his voice becoming more animated. “Will you swear on this Bible that you really walked on the moon?”

I looked back at the man and gave him a look as if to say, Will you swear on that Bible that you are an idiot? The man was becoming more virulent, inflammatory, and personally accusatory in his outbursts. I tried not to pay any attention, but he was saying things like, “Your life is a complete lie! And here you are making money by giving interviews about things you never did!”

astronauts-gone-wild

Mardi Gras will never be the same after this.

Lisa approached the cameraman and insisted, “Please turn off that camera! We’re just trying to get across the street to our car.”

I’m a patient man, but this situation was silly. “You conspiracy people don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

Lisa spied a break in the traffic, so she grabbed me by the arm again, and said, “Buzz, let’s go.” We started walking across the street, but the large man kept getting right out in front of us, standing in the middle of Rodeo Drive, blocking our path as his cameraman kept rolling film. Lisa seemed nervous about trying to go around him, while searching for her keys to unlock the car with the man in such close proximity, so we turned around and walked back to the bellman’s station outside the hotel.

“Okay, this is ridiculous,” I said to Lisa and to the bellman. “Call the police. This guy is not letting us get to our car.”

I was under the awning, and Lisa turned away from me to approach the cameraman again. “Please turn that camera off,” she said. Meanwhile the large man was nearly screaming at me, “You’re a coward, Buzz Aldrin! You’re a liar; you’re a thief!”

Maybe it was the West Point cadet in me, or perhaps it was the Air Force fighter pilot, or maybe I’d just had enough of his belligerent character assassination, but whatever it was, as the man continued to excoriate me, I suddenly let loose with a right hook that would have made George Foreman proud. WHAAP! I belted the guy squarely in the jaw.

While I prided myself on staying in relatively good shape, it was doubtful that my septuagenarian punch did much damage to the follow, except perhaps to his ego. But he was not at all concerned about the punch, anyhow. It was obvious that he had been goading me in that direction, and he seemed ecstatically happy that I had finally grown exasperated and hit him.

“Hey, did you catch that on tape?” he called out to his cameraman. That was all he cared about.

Lisa turned around and walked back to me. She cocked her head slightly, looked up at me, and asked quietly, “Buzz, what happened?”

I looked back at my stepdaughter rather sheepishly, and said, “I punched the guy.”

“You what?” Lisa’s hand instinctively flew to her mouth in disbelief, as though already postulating in her mind any potential legal ramifications.

The film crew and “interviewer” hastily packed up and headed for their vehicle. They had gotten what they were hoping for – and more. Before the night was over, the film of me punching the guy was on the news and all over the Internet. The interviewer went to the police, threatening to file assault charges against me.

In the meantime, Lisa contacted our legal representative, Robert O’Brien, and told him everything that had happened. Robert suggested that we hire a criminal lawyer, just in case the encounter actually led to charges.

On the following Tonight Show, Jay Leno included the incident in his standup routine, cheering, “Way to go, Buzz!” They doctored up the video of my punch, and edited it to make it appear as though I had given the guy about twenty rapid-fire punches instead of the one.

David Letterman also came to my defense in his opening remarks for The Late Show, and threw in a double feature on the story the next night, since they had “dug up” some old archival footage of a reporter accosting Christopher Columbus, accusing him, “You didn’t really cross the ocean and land in the New World. You’re a liar!” And of course, Columbus decked the guy.

By then, television networks and evening entertainment news programs were calling, suddenly wanting me to appear on their shows. Ordinarily I would have been delighted, but our legal advisers said, “No interviews.” Eventually the matter died down. The city of Beverly Hills did not bring charges against me, and there were witnesses to the harassing behavior that provoked my response. It still cost me money to hire a lawyer to defend myself, and the hoax advocate received the publicity he sought, so I suppose, in the end, he won. But the punch provided me with some satisfaction, at least, and I was gratified by the calls and notes of support. CNN Crossfire commentator Paul Begala gave me a thumbs-up, and many others sent encouraging messages. Ironically, some of the most supportive words came from my fellow astronauts, to the effect of, “Hey, Buzz, I wish I’d punched the guy! Finally, somebody has responded to these hoax theory perpetrators.” More than my knowledge of rendezvous techniques, more than my actions under pressure during the initial lunar landing, more than anything in my career as an astronaut – it seemed as if nothing elevated me more in their estimation than “the punch.” From that day on, I was a hero to them.2

Some have alleged that the scene was staged and cite, for instance, the fact that Aldrin and Sibrel went on to collaborate on the 2004 documentary Astronauts Gone Wild. It is strange, too, to note that Sibrel, in publicizing a theory that ought to hinge on forensic examination and logic, instead decides to interject religion into the showdown, obnoxiously brandishing his Bible and thereby setting himself up for ridicule by progressives. The cameraman is also careful to get a clear shot of the restaurant’s sign and street address, which – if, indeed, this confrontation was a hoax – might have been a condition set by the Luxe Hotel for permission to use the Café Rodeo as a location. Begala’s response, not the typical one for commentary on an assault, was to give the “thumbs-up”, the gesture made synonymous with film criticism by Siskel and Ebert. Lisa Cannon, the woman seen with Aldrin in the video, has been credited with a “significant role” in “developing Buzz Aldrin’s brand”.

Regardless of whether the “Blow Heard ‘Round the World” was a planned event, it served as an object lesson for the public during the politically crucial period following 9/11. As Aldrin’s account makes clear, the media treated him like a hero for punching Sibrel. Aldrin also makes a very deliberate reference to his military service in describing his thought process leading to the moment of violence. The takeaway for the audience is that hitting “conspiracy people” is the laudable thing to do in these turbulent times following the destruction of the World Trade Center. Laugh at them if possible, but punch them if they become too insistent. This was before the advent of YouTube, when critical analysis of the 9/11 matrix was in its comparative infancy. Connecting “conspiracy people” with superstition, socially awkward behavior, and lack of patriotic reverence would pay off in preconditioned public responses as inconvenient scrutiny of these events would become much more common over the years.

apollo

Destination Moon

Notwithstanding his touchiness about the reality of the Apollo mission, Aldrin is eager to emphasize his connection with the entertainment industry, and one of the chapters in Magnificent Desolation is titled “Pop Goes Space Culture”. He boasts of his friendship with science-fiction illusionists like James Cameron, the director of The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss. “For several years, Lois and I had been spending a lot of time driving up to L.A. on business and to attend a variety of Hollywood events in the evenings,” he writes, adding that they eventually moved into “a luxury high-rise condo along the Wilshire Corridor of Los Angeles, just west of Beverly Hills, because so much of our business was now connected to the entertainment industry.”3

“A little-known Hollywood fact is that my name had already been firmly ensconced in Hollywood lore long before Lois and I moved there,” he continues. “On the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, at the corners of Hollywood and Vine, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and I have not one star but four, one on each corner of the intersection. Actually, our ‘stars’ are in the shape of moons.”4 Recognition on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is a rather unexpected tribute for a veteran of NASA’s Apollo 11 program – either that or a tellingly fitting one.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Endnotes

  1. Aldrin, Buzz; and Ken Abraham. Magnificent Desolation. New York, NY: Harmony Books, 2009, p. 281.
  2. Ibid., pp. 282-285.
  3. Ibid., p. 256.
  4. Ibid.

buzzard

Writer-director Joel Potrykus and star Joshua Burge create one of the cinema’s great characters in Marty Jackitansky, as scathing a condemnation of this critic’s generation as has yet dared to bring the pain to the screen. Jackitansky is a loser, but seemingly unaware or unconcerned by this indisputable fact. He “works” for a bank’s mortgage division, but does little to earn his pay and actually spends most of his time devising ways of clipping the company for a quick buck. He orders useless supplies just to sell these back to the vendor for a cash refund, and even thinks he can get away with signing customers’ refund checks over to himself.

Jackitansky, a child of the 1980s, seems to have lost touch with reality sometime during the 1990s, as evidenced by the fact that he plays video games obsessively and yet refuses to use a computer because, as his even nerdier friend Derek (Potrykus) suggests, he is “scared of technology and robots and stuff.” He is young enough to suffer from the same desensitization and nihilism that characterize Generation Y, but too old to be comfortable with the personal technology that defines the social lives of those a few years younger.

Digital technology and an ineffectual public education system have left people like Jackitansky with little or no understanding of rudimentary math or economics. He blows all of his money on horror paraphernalia, and it never seems to occur to him to ration his limited resources once he goes on the run in order to elude the authorities. He thinks nothing, for instance, of eating out or throwing away the bulk of his dwindling cash on one evening in a nice hotel – and ordering room service, to boot.

Jackitansky is almost infectiously likable as an anti-heroic protagonist, his scams indicative of a creative if stupid and misguided resourcefulness and mischievously rebellious streak – at least, that is, until his anarchic revolt reveals itself to be little more than self-absorption and lack of regard for his fellow man. His intensifyingly hostile rudeness toward the admittedly goofy Derek kills any sympathy the viewer might have harbored until the point when Jackitansky finally becomes insufferable. Hoping to avoid detection by the authorities, he crashes in Derek’s father’s basement. Rather than being grateful, however, he dismisses his friend as a “fuckin’ loser” and even has the nerve to complain that his couch “sucks”. Buzzard progressively darkens in tone as the viewer begins to understand that Jackitansky is driven not by merely merry pranksterism, but by genuine junk-food-fueled psychopathy.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that this journey into the nightmare realm of cubicle jobs, adult virgins, and institutionalized alienation is:

4. Reactionary! Jackitansky, a representative socialist, has had his head filled with vague notions about the unfairness of capitalism. Consequently, he has no compunctions about cheating a “crap mortgage company” out of an honest day’s work or threatening or even attacking a small businessman (Joe Anderson), whom he accuses of “corporate thievery”, for standing in the way of one of his idiotic schemes. “I’m gonna strangle you and rape your fuckin’ face off,” Jackitansky tells him, unaccountably adding, “You’re the reason people get mad and die.” At the same time, not much can be said for an economy that reduces Derek, a man who appears to be in his late twenties or thirties, to living at home with his father. One could, if one chose to find an anti-capitalist message in Buzzard, interpret Jackitansky’s parasitic hustling as merely an echo and reflection of the unproductive vulture economy responsible for the subprime mortgage collapse.

3. Media-critical. A Freddy Krueger poster enlivens the protagonist’s apartment, the Nightmare on Elm Street films clearly furnishing the inspiration for the deadly weapon he fashions from a Nintendo Power Glove. That he chooses to make this game control into a weapon for use in the real world, too, indicates a dangerous confusion of reality and the virtual world of glorified violence. Jackitansky’s given name, Marty, carries for this reviewer associations with two other famous Marties of the American cinema: Ernest Borgnine’s conversely sympathetic role in the 1955 film of that title, and Martin Scorsese, a godfather of trivialized movie bloodshed. Jackitansky, unlike Borgnine’s Marty, allows his self-pity to drive him to lash out at others, with whom he is unable to empathize. Significantly, he wears a T-shirt advertising Demons (1985), an Italian horror classic about demonic creatures emerging from a movie screen to do their evil in actuality.

2. Anti-white. The Jewish-looking Jackitansky, asked about his unusual name, replies that his ethnic background is “White Russian”, an answer that verbally reinforces the character’s presumptive whiteness vis-à-vis the non-whites he encounters during the film. Blacks appear as orderly, clean-cut, honest workers, whereas whites are lazy, crazy, socially awkward, and criminal. A blond convenience store cashier (Alan Longstreet) cheats Jackitansky out of a five-spot. Others, such as Derek, who has “party-zoned” his father’s basement, or those who aimlessly vegetate at a hip-hop performance, waste their lives.

1. Anti-Y. Generation Y, as personified by Marty Jackitansky, has no work ethic whatsoever. It has been made self-absorbed and autistic by spoilage, instant gratification, and pop-cultural depravity.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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