Rudy’s other theories about Obama…

Yesterday, I posted something here about Rudy Giuliani’s repeated suggestion that, up until Obama took office, Republican presidents had kept us safe from terrorism, ignoring the fact that the 9/11 attacks, which happened during the second Bush administration, took place when he was Mayor of New York City, seven years before Obama took office. Well, I know it’s in incredibly bad taste, but something about this comment, which was left earlier today by a reader calling himself John Galt, really got me thinking about what other evil Obama might be responsible for according to Rudy Giuliani.

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I know I can do better, but here’s the best thing that I’ve been able to come up with so far. “What possessed Barack Obama to hire the Hell Angles,” I imagine Giuliani screaming as he smashes his fists onto the podium, “to handle security at Altamont?”

Or maybe it should be something about the Lindberg baby. I don’t know. Give me some time to work on it.

Posted in Other, Politics, Pop Culture, Special Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

“Before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attacks” inside the US, declares Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani

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Not only is Obama “the founder of ISIS“, but, according to Rudy Giuliani, who was the Mayor of New York City when the 9/11 attacks took place in 2001, no terrorists had successfully struck the United States until Obama took office in 2008. Here’s the video.

Some are attributing the lapse to Giuliani’s advancing age. I happen to remember, however, that he said roughly the same thing back in 2010, when he announced on Good Morning America, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush.” So this isn’t something new. Giuliani is just reading out of the same far right playbook he’s been reading out of since Obama took office.

Bush, for those of you in the audience who are too young to remember, was our President when the 9/11 attacks took place, killing 3,000-some people in New York City. Bush was literally the guy who, as we’d come to find out later, was handed a classified CIA security briefing titled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US” on Monday, August 6, 2001, just 36 days before the deadly 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, Bush, who was vacationing on his ranch in Crawford, Texas at the time he was given the CIA briefing, failed to “react with urgency to the warnings.” And the rest, as they say, is history… Or is it?

History can be rewritten, right?

Bush kept America safe.

We weren’t attacked until Obama made us weak.

Hillary Clinton kills her friends.

Obama founded ISIS.

The list goes on.

Meanwhile, in the real world, it’s just been reported that Trump’s daughter Ivanka is vacationing with Putin’s girlfriend, raising new questions about the candidate’s ties to the Russian dictator.

In less than a decade, we went from “Obama wasn’t born in America” to “Obama is responsible for 9/11.” It’s really amazing what can be accomplished when you just repeat the same thing over and over again. With enough airtime, you can make the truth anything you want it to be.

One wonders what we, the American people, will believe in another few decades, as our public schools continue to be dismantled, and the influence of our pseudo-news networks like Fox grow. I’m sure it’ll work to the advantage of some, but I can’t imagine it’ll be a world worth living in for most of us.

Posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Which “Stranger Things” character are you?

Looking around the internet today, I noticed that some site had a “Which ‘Stranger Things’ character are you?” quiz. I didn’t take it, as it looked like it sucked, and since I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’d be Sheriff Hopper. But it got me thinking that, if I had even remotely good coding skills, I could probably come up with something a hell of a lot more accurate at predicting who you might be if you were thrust into the Stranger Things universe. Here are some of my initial thoughts. I’m sure I could do even better with time, but I thought I should hurry and post something now, while it’s fresh in my mind. Oh, and the following has some spoilers in it, so don’t go too deep if you haven’t seen the show yet.

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[If you liked this, check out I don’t give a fuck which Seinfeld character Buzzfeed says you are… You won’t believe my new super awesome meme…]

Posted in Art and Culture, Pop Culture, Special Projects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Brendan Toller’s documentary “Danny Says” to be released September 30

A year or so ago, as you may recall, I interviewed filmmaker Brendan Toller about Danny Says, a documentary that he’d been working on concerning the life, adventures and cultural impact of Danny Fields, the man who, among other things, got the Stooges signed to Elektra in 1968, and later went on to become the co-manager of the Ramones in 1975. Well, this past January, the film, which has been attracting good press in the wake of its South By Southwest debut, was picked up by Magnolia Pictures, and it looks like it’ll be hitting theaters, iTunes and Amazon Video on September 30. Here’s the trailer for the film, which Magnolia released earlier today.

And, here, in hopes that it might encourage you to see the film if it should happen to come through your town, is a brief excerpt from my interview with Toller, which you should really just read in its entirety. [The following clip came just after a discussion involving an encounter between Fields and Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.]

MARK: Speaking of the Beatles, Danny claims to have been at least partially responsible for their breakup, given that it was his decision, as editor of the teen magazine Datebook, to play up John Lennon’s “(We’re) more popular than Jesus” quote in 1966, bringing it to the attention of folks in the Bible belt. Danny feels as though this act of his led to the protests and death threats against the Beatles, which ultimately led to their decision to stop touring, and their decision to break-up. Is that, in your opinion, the story of a life-long PR man looking to insert himself into rock and roll history, or do you think he really feels as though he brought about the downfall of the Beatles?

BRENDAN: To say Danny broke up the Beatles is, as Danny says, “to sell a candybar in twenty words or less.” He got the ball rolling, he got the conversation started. By ‘66, people in the public eye were starting to get in trouble for saying the right things. The 60s, as we now know them, were starting to emerge through the expression of artists like Bob Dylan and Lenny Bruce – provocateurs in a sense. Danny was publishing front-page headlines like, “It’s a country where anyone black is a dirty nigger” [Paul McCartney on the United States], or “Message songs are a drag” [Bob Dylan], to stoke the fire. Unfortunately, it was too much too soon, and, as with most situations in his life, Danny was way ahead of his time. Politically-revealing headlines are rarely seen on the newsstands, nevermind on the covers of a magazine geared toward 11-year-old girls in the 1960s. Danny’s spent his life defining a platform for the fringe. In ‘66, the Beatles were the biggest band in the world, but what about the Who? The Kinks? The Byrds? The Velvet Underground? Danny has always shined a light on the outre and obscure.

MARK: Regardless of his culpability in the breakup of the Beatles, it makes for a great story that the man who gave us the Ramones and Stooges also killed the Beatles… And, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have had the Ramones or the Stooges had the Beatles kept making records. Maybe one thing had to happen to make room for the other.

BRENDAN: Danny always encouraged those that he admired and gave artists authority to tip the mainstream in an immensely influential way. The Beatles influenced a wave of kids to pick up guitars, but now it seems the Stooges, Ramones and Velvets are the template for contemporary music – a second wave.

MARK: Danny, by all accounts, was a brilliant young man. Assuming the historical record is correct, he was already at Harvard Law at 20, when he decided to drop out and return to New York. (Some sources give the year of birth his as ‘39, while others give it as ‘41.) Assuming you asked him, I’m curious as to why he dropped out and moved back to New York when he did. What was happening at that time, around 1960, that pulled him back? As he’s often credited with being one of the first publicly gay men in the music business, my guess is that it had something to do with the acceptability homosexuality within the New York arts scene, but I suspect there may have been other factors.

BRENDAN: Boys. Greenwich Village. Fabulous people versus monotonous work that would ultimately lead to a lucrative, but rather dull existence in all likelihood. As for Danny being out, he was never in. Sexuality never defined him as it defines so many today… The sooner we can get away from phrases like, “Oh, meet my friend Charlie, he’s gay,” the better. Independent thought, defiance, humor and (even on the shallow end) physical features are more interesting than sexual preference. There was a secret camaraderie amongst people who gravitated towards members of the same sex in New York for sure, but let’s also not forget it was illegal. People were arrested.

MARK: Is it upon returning to New York that he changed his name from Daniel Feinberg to Danny Fields? Did he talk with you at all about why he decided to make that change?

BRENDAN: Danny started work for a theater PR man and decided he was beginning a life in show biz. Gracie Fields. W.C. Fields. It was that, and to signify a break from the values of his parents, their morals and expectations. He was leaving the ivy life.

MARK: I’m not trying to make a comparison between the two, as Danny was clearly operating a much different level, but I recently watched the documentary Mayor of Sunset Strip about LA radio personality Rodney Bingenheimer, who seems to have had a knack for being at the right place at the right time and facilitating connections between people in the indusry, and I was wondering if there might be some commonality between the two men. Bingenheimer, as I suspect you know, was obsessed by celebrity, and was drawn to the music industry because, although he wasn’t a musician, he was compelled to be a part of it… And I’m just curious if there’s any of that motivating Danny. And, by saying that, I’m not suggesting that he was just a glorified groupie. He clearly wasn’t. But my sense has always been that that he was more a fan than just an industry guy who saw an opportunity to make money off of these people. Would I be wrong about that?

BRENDAN: “Mayor of the Sunset Strip” is a great doc! I think Danny was motivated to be in approximation of fabulous people that surprised and stunned with their talent or beauty. He has a knack for seeing someone’s potential. His medium is people really. There are many in his orbit who never blossom, but those who have, with his prodding and confidence, have made miracles. Iggy is a miracle a hundred times over.

MARK: What would have happened with Iggy, do you think, if not for Danny?

BRENDAN: I think he may have been the “forgotten boy.” I mean, literally Search and Destroy, one of the great rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time, would not exist if Danny had not insisted that Iggy meet Bowie.

MARK: I wasn’t aware that it was Danny that made that introduction.

BRENDAN: Paraphrasing the film… Iggy was watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington at Danny’s apartment. Iggy was in town specifically to make career moves as the Stooges had been denied a recording option by Elektra records. The Stooges were sort of imploding. Danny was out, probably at Max’s, and called Ig three times. “David Bowie is here, he wants to meet you, you could do yourself some good.” The rest, as they say, is history…

As Magnolia has a pretty good track record, bringing films like The Wolfpack and Blackfish to broad audiences over the past few years, I’m hopeful that they can do the same thing for Danny Says. I know that Toller has invested years of his life in this, and I’d love for people to see it… Speaking of Magnolia, it’s probably also worth nothing that they’ve signed a deal to distribute Gimme Danger, the Jim Jarmusch documentary about Iggy and the Stooges, which also promises to be incredible.

Here’s the poster that Magnolia put out a little while ago, which is especially awesome if you know that Fields got his start in the industry as editor of the teen magazine Datebook.

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Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ypsi City Council considers giving Water Street debt reduction millage second shot in November

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As readers of this site know, the Water Street debt reduction millage failed at this polls earlier this month by a mere 30-some votes in large part because of ballots cast in Ypsilanti’s first ward, where folks on the anti-tax side of the debate concentrated their “vote no” efforts. [First ward voters cast their ballots against the initiative 160 to 29.] Well, as the election was so close, and since we’re now facing even deeper cuts into City services, our Mayor, Amanda Edmonds, has let it be know that she and members of Ypsi City Council are exploring the possibility of putting the issue before voters one more time. Here’s what Edmonds posted to social media a few days ago.

So almost half of you — 39 shy of half, in fact, voted YES on our millage last week. We lost, just barely. It means $700,000 more in cuts after years of cutting to the bone. Have heard from a lot of people wanting to put it back on the ballot in November. If you’d like us to consider that, please drop a line. The only way that could work is if we had people step up as leaders and participants on the campaign committee — talking to people, raising money, knocking on doors, etc. There are lots of things to consider whether this is a good idea or not. We have a deadline very soon to decide, so if you have thoughts on this — yay or nay — or would be interested in helping if it went forward can you please message me and share? As we consider we need to know that people are ready to step up. And if you think it’s not a good idea, message me and let me know why — as well as where you suggest $700K in general fund cuts come from/and or how to make that up in new revenue.

Personally, I’m skeptical. While I suppose it’s technically possible that voters could come out in November and pass the millage, my sense is that it’ll be an uphill battle, given the fact that two other millages will be on the ballot, and that most folks coming out to cast their votes in the general election probably won’t be as educated on the issue. No, I think that, if we’d really been serious about wanting to pass the millage, we would have just expended more time, effort and money prior to the primary, when we had a better shot at it. With that said, though, I think it’s worth exploring the possibility of giving it another shot, seeing as how, without it, we’ll very likely descend into receivership. And, if we don’t take our shot now, we won’t have another opportunity at passing a millage until 2018, unless, of course, we wanted to hold a special election, which would cost us more.

So, given all of that, I guess I’m on board for giving it another shot, assuming I can be assured of a few things. First, I’d like for there to be one point person running the campaign. I think part of the reason the millage lost last time is that no one really took ownership of it, and I’d like for one person to come forward to take on the responsibility. And, I’d like of that person to have a strong, dedicated, diverse committee behind them. Second, I’d want to be convinced that our elected officials are truly onboard, especially our representatives from the first ward, where the last race was lost. I know everyone on City Council said that they were in favor of the millage, but how many of them actually knocked on doors and got out the vote? If we’re going to do this again, and if I’m being asked to contribute toward the printing of yard signs, and everything else that a real campaign requires, I want to be assured that my elected representatives are invested. And, third, I’d want some assurance that a real plan exists – a plan to raise money, mobilize people, and do the mailings that are necessary. During the primary, when this was last on the ballot, I don’t think I saw a single “pro millage” yard sign, no one knocked on my door, and I didn’t receive a single piece of literature at my house. And I’d especially want to know that plans existed to get the word out in both ward one and the more student heavy areas of town, where most of our new voters will likely be coming from from. [In the primary, if I’m not mistaken, only about 20% of registered voters cast their ballots. That number will likely double this time, given the presidential election, and I’d want to be sure that a comprehensive plan exists to reach those people and educate them on the subject.]

If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. Let’s have a web presence. Let’s have clear and consistent messaging. Let’s have a public list of people who have signed on to “save our city” and support the millage. And let’s make better use of social media.

Even if we were able to do all of that, though, there’s still a very real possibility that it wouldn’t pass. We live in uncertain times, and people, for good reason, are hesitant to pass new taxes, especially in communities like ours, where public services have been in decline for decades, and, quite frankly, people don’t see a lot of value for their tax dollars. An additional tax, even if it comes to less than $100 per household annually, could be an enormous burden on some in our community, and we have to recognize that. The sad truth is, however, if we don’t pass this millage, and an emergency manager is dispatched to Ypsilanti from the Governor’s office, whatever they do is probably going to disproportionately effect these very same people who are struggling the most. [Just look at what the emergency managers have done to Detroit Public Schools and cities like Flint.] And, of course, it probably doesn’t help that, just yesterday, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission voted to kill the development of the new rec center on Water Street. [Yes, the one positive thing we had to look forward to on Water Street is now gone.]

But, given the fact that deep, severe cuts are looming thanks to our outstanding Water Street debt, and my strong feeling that an emergency manager should be avoided at all costs, I guess the “pro millage” folks can count me in. I’m ready for the fight if they are… How about you?

For those of you not familiar with the Water Street debt reduction millage proposal, and its intended purpose, the following clip comes by way of an article written by Tom Perkins for MLive this past April:

The city of Ypsilanti took the next step toward asking voters to pay off around $10.6 million in Water Street debt.

That represents about half of the $20 million Ypsilanti owed at the beginning of the year.

Officials are proposing a 2.3-mill tax that, if approved, would mean a homeowner with a property assessed at $50,000 would pay $115 annually, or $9.53 a month, for the next 14 years.

At its Tuesday meeting, council unanimously approved the language calling for the millage, which will appear on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

Council Member Pete Murdock noted that a 2.3-mill road tax is coming off the books in 2017 so residents wouldn’t see a net tax increase if they approve the proposed Water Street millage…

In February, the city took advantage of low interest rates to save around $3.7 million by refinancing the debt. That, combined with a $2.2 million payment from its savings, knocked out about a third of the approximately $20 million in principal and interest Ypsilanti owed.

The city also plans to continue making payments out of its general fund over the next 15 years to cover $2.8 million of the remaining debt. City Manager Ralph Lange said he is planning to find another $700,000 to pay toward the debt by the end of this budget year, and that will save the city an additional $300,000 in interest. Additionally, Michigan Economic Development Corporation converted a $3 million loan into a grant…

By a wide margin, voters rejected a proposed Water Street debt retirement millage and city income tax increase in 2012, but city council members say this proposal is different.

The previous measure included an accompanying income tax and a 4.94 mill Water Street tax. The new proposal doesn’t include an income tax and the millage rate is less than half what city leaders asked voters to approve in 2012…

One last thing that bears repeating… The local landlords who have been bankrolling the “no new taxes” campaigns these past several years, and all of the small government, anti-tax folks who stand behind them, have been asked repeatedly what they’d cut in order to keep us out of receivership. And, instead of answering, they’ve just reiterated their talking points about how our City’s leaders are secretive, inept and wasteful. Regardless of whether or not they’re right about that, though, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re facing $14 million in debt, and we need to find a way to pay it. Again, I can understand why people wouldn’t want to increase their tax bills, but math is math, and we don’t have the money in our current budget to pay the debt that we owe, and no one, to my knowledge, has come forward to point out where we might be able to find an additional $700,000 a year. Given that, I don’t see as how we have any choice but to buy our way out of the Water Street debt and move forward together as a community.

Oh, and speaking of what this is likely to cost us, it was just announced that, among other things, we won’t be filling the three open positions we currently have for police officers, as all local spending has been frozen for the foreseeable future.

[Still want to know more about the history of Water Street and the debate over the millage? Click here.]

Posted in Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , | 67 Comments

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