Monday, March 26, 2018

March For Our Lives 2018 - Walnut Creek, represent

It's been noted that the SF Chronicle has failed to report that an estimated 8,000 people marched in Walnut Creek, California for #MarchForOurLives on March 24, 2018. So I will be a citizen reporter and document the event here. March For Our Lives Walnut Creek was organized by a small group of high school students and co-sponsored by Book Clubs 4 Change—it was the students' first time putting together a political march and they did a fantastic job. From their Facebook event page:

Enough is enough. We march to support the students of Stoneman Douglas High School and the National #MarchForOurLives movement. We march for common sense changes that will make student lives and safety a priority and for an end to the epidemic of mass school shootings. The time is now. 

My sign is in the public domain if you want to use it
There were volunteer signups, a donation site, sign-making parties, porta-potties , registration and pre-registration for voters, ages 16 and up, and many great speakers before the march, including local students and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier,

Thank you for marching or marching in spirit, everyone. Make sure you're registered to vote and that you vote in EVERY ELECTION from now on, whatever your political affiliation. Sixty percent of Americans, which includes gun owners, favor stricter gun policy from the Federal government. If we all vote, we outnumber NRA-backed political candidates overwhelmingly. Use your power and vote them out. Make this nation a safer, healthier, less deadly place for children, for everyone.


















Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Women's March 2018 Oakland - we came, we marched, we had clever signs

It was a good Women's March, the massive sequel to last year's worldwide record-breaking demonstration. I hope we can do it again, but in celebration of a better government going forward. Here's to hope. Some photos and video and many good vibes to follow. Thank you, peaceful protesters. Now call and write your Members of Congress and tell them to impeach and/or 25th Amendment the obstruction-of-justice-in-chief and here's to the FBI's quest to oust the criminally corrupt from our Federal government.

The combined creative energy of this group could light up the Eastern Seaboard











Occupella sings "Bella Ciao" - an Italian anti-fascist protest song from the 1940s.




Here they come! Thousands marched through downtown Oakland on January 20th, 2018. The #Resistance is marching right into the halls of Congress - be sure to register to vote and vote for and support all the incredible candidates now running for office in the U.S.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The heightened cartoon-brilliant art direction of "Dick" (1999)

Has anyone checked in with Dick lately? Directed by Andrew Fleming from a script by Fleming and Sheryl Longin, starring young Michelle Williams and even younger Kirsten Dunst as endearingly dumb best friends, Dick came and went in 1999.

Mashing together the teen comedy with political satire is a challenging task and Dick struggles with its premise, especially attempting to answer the question of who is the audience for this movie: Teens living on the cusp of the 21st century, who have little to no knowledge of the Watergate scandal and its myriad of corrupt players? Adults who lived through the 1970s, watching as intrepid journalists and the legal branch took down paranoid would-be despot Richard Milhouse Nixon? No one was sure how to market this one for maximum audience.

One aspect of this film is crystal clear in its premise and its execution—the art direction by Lucinda Zak, who took all that was hideous, deformed, brilliantly muddy and wrong-headed about 1970s style and ran straight down the field with it for touchdown after touchdown with it. If you're looking for a feast of 70s oddities for the eyes, this is your movie; sit back and enjoy.

A slew of amazing comedy talent co-starred as historical figures of the Nixon White House era, including Will Ferrell as Bob Woodward, Bruce McCulloch as Carl Bernstein, Dave Foley as Bob Haldeman, Ana Gasteyer as Rose Mary Woods, Harry Shearer as G. Gordon Liddy, which is a comedy of riches, but then it's all topped off by Dan Hedaya just throwing himself into the role of Dick Nixon, plus the great Teri Garr as a Watergate-Hotel dwelling single mom who, like most of the adults in this would-be teen-comedy/political satire, has no idea what's going on under her very nose.

And now, Dick.

Title features a manual typewriter with psychedelic bubble font

Our protagonists, bubbly Betsy Jobs (Dunst) and her romantic best friend Arlene Lorenzo (Williams)—two high school sophomores who can't wait to win a date with their idol Bobby Sherman. But when when they sneak outside of Arlene's Watergate apartment's bedroom to mail in their contest entry, stumbling upon a late-night break-in, fate has other plans in store for them.



The detail in every upper middle-class set of this film is astonishing. Note Arlene's trendy TV and bedroom phone (both luxuries in the inflated 70s) alongside her crafty Bobby Sherman shrine.





According to the DVD commentary (yes, as a dedicated chronicler of obscure film history, I listened to that) a warehouse full of period-era polyester fabrics was discovered pre-production and so Dunst and Williams were treated to a wardrobe of custom-made clothes made from unbreathable synthetic fabrics—great way to get into character—the 70s were colorful but uncomfortable for most of us.

Some major polyester going on here

This is a cartoon version of the Watergate scandal, but perhaps that's what's needed after a dark political corruption storm of this magnitude. Wait, was I just describing the early 70s or today? Either way, over time, the sociopaths at the center of corruption tend to look more absurd (but just as creepy) with hindsight. And also, look at the 70s—this art direction is only a slight exaggeration of certain 70s concepts, and when I say slight, I mean the width of a polyester thread.


Betsy gets the "cool" history teacher and it shows in her presentation.



While poor Arlene gets the "up-tight" teacher. This was the extreme cultural divide that we found ourselves in after the social upheaval of the 60s.



Betsy and Arlene are solidly upper middle-class and have plenty of leisure time to enjoy the latest in 70s fades and fashions. The last of the baby boomers, allowance-dollars in hand had plenty of recreational and consumer activities to partake in. I don't know who on the film crew painted and lit this roller rink, but I want to shake your hand.





A typical (hyper-real) hip girl's room of the era. Canopy bed, lots of orange, textiles, pastels, brights, patterns, flowers and a collie lamp to add a touch of whimsy.



The heady days of trying to make sense of a world gone made through the prism of girlhood friendship.



Featuring David Cassidy. RIP.



Ana Gasteyer as Nixon's extremely dedicated secretary Rose Mary Woods.



Dick sets in motion a series of events that filter the Watergate scandal through the actions of two bumbling sub-intelligent girls. It's purposefully silly as hell, but the girls, as performed by Dunst and Williams, are endearing. And their dum-dum legacy is a sort of prequel to another cult film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which remains the pinnacle of dumb friendship movies as far as I'm concerned.

Nixon recorded everything he said—leading to the downfall of a paranoid would-be zealot


More polyester in our nation's capitol.



Ryan Reynolds, in one of many effective and very funny small roles, and a muscle car.



And here's a typical teen-boy room of the era. Trophies, plastic skulls, groovy love poster all framed in brown plaid (not shown: beer bong).



According to the DVD commentary, once Will Ferrell was on board playing straight-laced Bob Woodward to Bruce McCulloch's preening, narcissist Carl Bernstein, a flock of funny people joined the fray.

Best use of Yes's "I've Seen All Good People" in a scene of journalistic triumph

Comedy goddess Teri Garr, long may she reign.


This Watergate Hotel room cannot get any more 70s than this


Also on hand is Devon Gummersall as Betsy's stoner brother Larry, who might be the most insightful person in this satirical world, albeit while being very, very high.

Do you like brown? Then you'll love the 70s

Dan Heydaya firing all his guns as, at that time, one of our freakiest most corrupt Presidents.



I would never make any effort to rehabilitate Nixon's image. He was a criminal, a freak, and deeply flawed on many levels. But the orange person currently residing in the White House is, relatively speaking, makes Nixon look a lot more like an actual human. Sad.


Just here for the poncho in the foreground. My aunt made me one of these for Christmas one year and I was kicking it in second grade in my swinging poncho—thanks Auntie Joan.



A tight shot of a period department store demonstrates what creative art direction and a decent budget can accomplish.



For the girls, the Watergate conspiracy comes to its ultimate conclusion. At the mall. Which is very 70s.



So long, Dick.


In conclusion, I would like to see Kirsten Dunst and Ryan Reynolds do more comedy—they have the chops and they're both so effortlessly charismatic onscreen. I would also like to update Dick for the Trump era and I would call it Shit. But that's just a working title. And the story would begin in the 80s, because imagine the art direction!