The Protocols of the Elders of Blah Blah Blah

One often hears a meta-debate about whether it is wise or warranted to compare this event or that event to the massive event from 1941 to 1945 referred to as The Holocaust, or Shoah. There is “Godwin’s Law” to consider, concerns of resorting to reductio ad Hitlerum, and therefore having one’s points rendered as moot due to such reliance on an obviously accepted logical fallacy. One could even register a moral concern over comparing anything in contemporary experience with the unique horrors that event unleashed.

It is problematic.

I had the privilege of studying Holocaust history under Saul Friedman in my college days at Kent State. Professor Friedman was a tall man, perpetually in a sports coat, a serious face, and more gravitas than most people anyone has ever met. His challenge was to teach the iceberg to people who grew up shown the tip and thought it was all there was. You remember. From middle school forward, the teachers would show us the pictures of emaciated people stacked up in rickety wood bunks, they would drill those incomprehensible numbers into our heads, six million Jews, six million others; the higher-skilled teachers would even perhaps note the grappling irony of “arbeit macht frei.”

But those lessons did not even try a bit to explain the origins of these hideous ideas. I think that most people whose Holocaust study occurred merely through high school graduation got the impression that the hateful ideas that led to the “Final Solution” began and ended in Hitler’s warped brain, and that is by far not the truth. Professor Friedman’s greatest impression upon me was to pull back the curtain to reveal how ancient, how matted into the soil, how far back the ugly tendency of humans to massively scapegoat goes.

Russia in the late 1700s forcibly restricted the movement of Jewish people, who were made to live in the “Pale of Settlement,” and yes, this is from where the phrase “beyond the pale” comes. But the practice of ghetto-izing Jewish people goes back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Indeed, the practice of murdering Jews en masse is nearly as time-honored: Pogroms in Ukraine and Belarus killed some 150,000 from 1918 to 1922.

Russia is of course the origin point for a book called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which first raised its horrible head in 1903. This book purports to detail a Jewish plan toward world domination, which they would achieve by subverting the morals of non-Jews, by taking over the banks and the press, and, ultimately, by destroying civilization.

You can buy yourself a copy at Amazon right now!

Egyptian scholar Dr. Samir Taqi Al-Din has a well-thumbed copy, apparently. He recommended it as a source of truth in April 2018. Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Malla of Damascus is a fan, too. He thinks the World Cup is part of the plot outlined therein. He said this just last week.

The practice of and the notions behind mass scapegoating are deeply engrained over centuries and as modern and current as Cardi B.

During the 2016 campaign, I expressed alarm to friends I knew were going to vote for D.J. Trump, who essentially campaigned saying that this group of people and that group of people are causing the problems, so we’re going to get rid of those groups of people. That is an argument that cannot help but engage the worst tendencies and the worst practices of people.

And now we have toddlers appearing alone before immigration judges and a Muslim ban with the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval.

Nope, I see no similarities whatsoever. Nope.

Where Did The Guitar Go?

This is one of two examples I can find on the Internet where Prince ends by making his guitar disappear. It is a move I have seen no other artist perform. It is astonishing. Watch this 12-minute medely at the 2005 NAACP Image Awards and try to deny that he was the best live performer on the planet.

I have to be honest, though, I think that audience was more excited to see Morris and Jerome than they were anyone.


Last night, I heard Chris Hayes report that, despite the shootings today, the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland fully intend that a paper will go out tomorrow. My automatic but certain response as a former news reporter and editor (and one who once covered a live shooter situation) : Well f*** yeah the paper’s going out!


Purple Rain. Again.

I learned via local public radio on Thursday evening that The Little Theater was featuring Purple Rain and Sign ‘o’ the Times on Saturday. There went my normal weekend.

I have probably watched Purple Rain a dozen times since April 2016, and now twice in the theater thanks to the good people at The Little. That is, admittedly, a lot of times to have watched a movie that is, quite arguably, a horrible movie. So bad is it that I have essentially re-written it and tend to choose my version over the one that appears on-screen, and I am able even when actually watching it to apply at least one major change. If I squint a bit, I can pretend that The Kid’s mother is actually dead and is just a ghost haunting he and Francis L. Their haunting by a discorporated being better explains the family’s derangement. I mean, if they’re both alive, then the only other explanation is that they are both insanely unhinged tweakers.

Of late has come the following observation: If indeed The Kid’s parents are off-the-rails meth users, well, then, they’re that and they are prolific gardeners.

I’m referring to the scene after Francis L.’s suicide attempt, after the cops have left, and The Kid is all alone and has a freakout, hallucinates his own self dead by hanging, and, you know, “goes crazy” beating the crap out of the family’s basement. The Kid’s first line of attack is to take a bat or something to the family’s abundant collection of preserves on the shelves.

The Kid’s parents, who are for most of the film only seen screaming and yelling at one another if they are not physically fighting, apparently also engage in the utterly wholesome practice of home cannery. People rarely bother to sterilize jars unless they are putting up food they have grown themselves.

I mean, can you imagine those two working in a garden? And when would they find the time?

It’s these details that fascinate me about Purple Rain, these story elements that were apparently not considered beyond “we need something for Prince to break / how about jars of preserves.” For instance:

In the beginning of the “Lake Minnetonka” scene, The Kid asks Appollonia where she is from. “New Orleans,” she answers, matter-of-factly.

Let me get this straight. She grew up in New Orleans. NEW ORLEANS. She has show-bidness ambitions. Claims she’s a singer and a dancer, in fact.

And she came to Minneapolis?

So many things in Purple Rain don’t make sense. At one point, Francis L. gruffly insults The Kid with, all my songs are in my head, I don’t have to write them down like you do (we later discover this to have been a lie). But we never see The Kid putting pen to paper, not once (as I recall, he is seen writing music in Graffiti Bridge).

Why is The Kid always late to rehearsals?

Why does The Kid show up at First Avenue in the afternoon and ask “where is everybody?” It’s a NIGHT CLUB.

And why does he have no idea how to kiss a woman?

Why is Jill Jones holding a dog near the end? (We actually know the answer to this, but if you don’t know that in a deleted scene The Kid for some reason gives Jill Jones a dog, you’re gonna wonder.)

Why did these filmmakers find Appolonia’s job application process interesting enough to leave in the movie? Why not just have her fill out W-2s as well?

Anyway. Who am I to criticize, I reckon. The thing made Warner Bros. buckets of money. And I, for one, can’t stop going back to it.

#6

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#6:

#5

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#5:

#4

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#4:

#3

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#3 (are we sensing a trend here?):