I hope that everyone is enjoying the last couple of days, the decision is not the final say in the matter of GLBT issues, but it is a damn big deal….There are a few states holding out, and refusing to grant licenses and perform marriages to same sex couples.
The hate filled rhetoric is strong in some areas, like here in Banjoville. Add to this tension, the anger over taking away these right-wing christian racist asshole flags of confederate heritage, with a dose of Obamacare is a-go from last week, and you got yourself a power keg waiting to explode. It is frightening, the hate I am seeing. These people mean business.
I think things are going to get worse, did you see this? Who’s burning black churches? Arsonists hit at least 3 Southern congregations in the last 7 days
ur black churches burned overnight this week, and at least three have been attributed to arson.
Last week’s shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME was perhaps the deadliest attackon a black church since the 1963 church bombing by the Klan in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four children. Since then, another specter from America’s violent racist history is again rearing its head – setting black churches ablaze.
At least three have been intentionally set on fire in recent days, according to a surveyof news reports compiled by the Daily Kos.
On Tuesday, God’s Power Church of Christ in Georgia was intentionally set on fire, authorities told ABC News. Electronics and other equipment were also stolen in early morning fire. Authorities told reporters there is “no evidence” of a hate crime.
On Wednesday, Briar Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina burned in the middle of the night, causing $250,000 in damage, NBC News reports. Authorities are investigating whether the blaze was a hate crime. It took 75 firefighters to bring it under control.
On Friday, Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in South Carolina, was virtually destroyed in an overnight blaze, the Aiken Standard reports. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the FBI has been called in.
Another blaze on Friday morning in Florida at predominantly-black Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church caused $700,000 in damage. The fire is under investigation but fire officials believe it to be accidental, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
Burning black churches has historical significance that harkens back to the civil rights era, according to the Atlanta Black Star.
“From slavery and the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement and beyond, white supremacists have targeted the Black church because of its importance as a pillar of the Black community, the center for leadership and institution building, education, social and political development and organizing to fight oppression,” David Love writes.
The Ku Klux Klan has ramped up recruiting activity in the days since the Charleston shooting. Residents in California, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia woke last weekend to find bags in their lawns filled with candy and Klan flyers seeking new members.
Oh and they will find plenty of eager members.
One of the shadowy figures who appears to have influenced alleged Charleston killer Dylann Roof is Harold Covington, the founder of a white separatist movement and, within supremacist circles, an influential sci-fi author. Covington, the latest in a long line of rightwing sci-fi writers, has been linked to racist crimes in the past and this week called the massacre “a preview of coming attractions”.
The racist manifesto and photos apparently posted by Roof makes mention of the Northwest Front, created by Covington, a former member of the American Nazi party who traveled to South Africa and Rhodesia in order to agitate for white power. In the accompanying photos, Roof wore patches with Rhodesian and apartheid-era South African flags on them.
Covington, if you believe his website, runs a growing enclave of white supremacists near Seattle called the Northwest Front. The non-profit group is reflected in a series of sci-fi novels, authored by Covington, about a dystopian future in which a white nation is the only answer to US economic and racial woes.
Days after appearing on CNN and calling efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from state grounds an act of “cultural genocide,” League of the South state chairman Pat Hines went on Alan Colmes‘ Fox News radio program and celebrated the 150-year-old assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Transcript of the exchange below, via:
COLMES: Now the League Of The South in April had an event celebrating the assassination of President Lincoln.
HINES: That’s right.
COLMES: You support that?
HINES: Yes I do.
HINES: He was the most murderous, treasonous President that ever existed.
COLMES: So you honor the actions of John Wilkes Booth?
HINES: John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate agent, who sadly, he didn’t fulfill his mission for almost 2 1/2 years. But he was assigned to kill Lincoln. And it’s too bad that he took as long as he did to do it.
COLMES: You’re upset that it took John Wilkes Booth as long as it did to kill Abraham Lincoln?
COLMES: Why would you favor the assassination of an American President?
HINES: Well he was an United States President. Well, he was Commander-in-Chief, which makes him a legitimate target immediately.
COLMES: Is any Commander-in-Chief a legitimate target?
HINES: Well they are.
But you know that this Council of Conservative Citizens has donated thousands to the campaigns of GOP politicians…‘Supremacist’ Earl Holt III and his donations to Republicans – The Washington Post
News came Monday that Holt had donated about $65,000 over the years to Republican campaign funds. He gave about $25,000 to Republican candidates in 2012 including former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).
These people are giving the money away to charity, etc.:
Four presidential hopefuls are among 23 Republicans who have given up more than $36,000 in campaign contributions from the leader of a white nationalist group said to have influenced the Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum led a GOP group spanning Congress and statehouses who said they would donate to charity or return money from Earl Holt, following the publication of a Guardian article on Sunday.
Many other Republicans who took money from Holt declined to comment on the contributions. Josh Mandel, Ohio’s state treasurer, said he would not return $1,500 Holt gave to his failed 2012 US Senate campaign, as it had been spent. Mandel’s campaign still has almost $50,000 in the bank.
Holt, the president of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), has contributed more than $74,000 to Republican candidates and committees in recent years, according to public filings, while making dozens of racist statements online.
…the CCC has become the largest white-supremacist group in the nation, according to some observers. Members have donated thousands of dollars to politicians; some national politicians have joined, and dozens have spoken to CCC meetings, often regretting it later. On Monday, Republicans around the country hastened to give back cash they’d received from the CCC’s president, Earl Holt III. Yet despite its size, influence, and unabashed espousal of white separatism, the CCC seems to often go unnoticed, surfacing mostly at times of high racial tension.
The CCC is now, according to the SPLC, the nation’s largest white nationalist group and at its peak boasted 15,000 members. Though the CCC is sometimes described as “thinly veiled” white supremacists or the like, that’s misleading—it makes little secret of its agenda. (Nonetheless, Ann Coulter has previously stepped forward to defend the group from the white-supremacy attack.) In a statement of principles, the group says:
We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people …. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.
New members also receive a pamphlet about Martin Luther King Day co-written by the late racist Senator Jesse Helms. The Anti-Defamation League collects other examples of ties to hate groups and extremists.
The group also maintains ties overseas; in 1998, according to the white supremacist site American Renaissance, a delegation from the group “had the pleasure of presenting Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate flag that had flown over the South Carolina state capitol.” Le Pen founded France’s far-right National Front, but was recently suspended from the party by its current leader—his daughter—for remarks casting doubt on the Holocaust.
The CCC also prominently protested in 2000 when South Carolina lawmakers moved the Confederate battle flag from atop the statehouse—where it had flown since 1961—to a site elsewhere on the capitol grounds in Columbia.
And more cartoons for you.
Now for some other news links:
This is far disturbing to see:
Transit officers working for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority are under investigation after several of them were recorded by a cell phone pushing and shoving an African American man holding onto a baby for reportedly not paying his $2.25 fare.
According to WPVI, SEPTA officials say they are reviewing their policies and procedures after the video — recorded Thursday night — went viral, calling attention to the officer’s actions.
In the video, three transit police can be seen talking to the man as he stays seated in the car holding a very small child. After another officer arrives and handcuffs the man, he is escorted off the rail car and then can be seen being shoved against the wall with the baby still in his arms.
As bystanders attempt to intervene, more than a dozen officers descend upon the platform pushing the crowd back as one man yells , “He still has his daughter in his hands!” as the baby can be heard crying in the background.
Detroit police chasing a fleeing car decided it would be appropriate to continue the chase into a residential neighborhood. Due to their poor decision-making and inability to let a minor offense go, two small children died and three more were seriously injured.
On June 24, police were chasing what eyewitnesses believed to be a red Charger when they “tapped” the car on the rear bumper. That caused the red car to lose control, hitting and instantly killing Makiah Jackson, 3, and her six-year-old brother, Michaelangelo Jackson. Witness Alisha Jackson told the Voice Of Detroit:
“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air. There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘watch out!’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head. I ran down there, I yelled out their names, but they were gone. Makiah’s eyes were wide open, they died on impact.”
Police could have — SHOULD have — stopped right then. But even after this horrific scene, the chase continued onto another residential street. There, the red car crashed into a driveway, hitting three children. Darius Andrews, Jr., 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7, were critically injured and a 22-year-old woman was also injured.
The car police were chasing was driven by a man who is on parole but neglected to report to his Parole Officer. Now, that’s certainly against the law and Lorenzo Harris should be held accountable. But to chase him into a residential neighborhood, where children are playing and families are out in their yards, is so irresponsible as to beggar belief. What the hell were they thinking? And to then continue to chase the car after two children were run down? Outrageous!
Detroit Police Chief James Craig must know that this is inexcusable because he is scrambling. He’s changed his story several times. First he said that the police in the car had suspended the chase after they “lost sight of the car.” Witnesses blew a hole in that lie. Then he said that a supervisor had ordered the chase to end. There is nothing documented to prove this. Then he said that Harris had a gun. Then he said he didn’t. The cops had “made eye contact” with Harris and a passenger and we all know that if a black man makes eye contact with a cop, that’s all she wrote. That cops will have compliance no matter what. Even if it kills small children.
What the hell….
More news stories:
Obama’s new pact provides legal rights to corporations that it does not extend to unions and public interest groups
Now that President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has twice been upheld by the nation’s highest court, Georgia’s state and federal leaders are coming to the begrudging recognition that the legislation won’t be changed any time soon.
But the well-dug trenches remain unmoved: Most Democrats insist on a Medicaid expansion in the state as the only path forward. Most Republicans are determined to repeal the law.
Meanwhile, a small cadre of lawmakers hope that Georgia’s involvement in a controversial waiver program could provide a new, and less contentious, path forward to bring in more federal funding for health care.
In the wake of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to maintain health insurance tax credits in states such as Georgia that did not create their own exchanges, the political and policy status quo remained unmoved.
Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston both signaled they don’t intend to step into what they see as a federal matter, and they called on Congress to give states more flexibility to use federal funding.
On the issue of Reproductive Rights:
There’s a little Easter egg in Friday’s marriage equality ruling that could have major repercussions for reproductive rights activists — if and when the Supreme Court takes up the issue of abortion again.
In his opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy references the interplay of “personal choice” as it relates to same-sex marriage. But, in doing so, he also acknowledges the way individual autonomy relates to other life decisions, such as the right to use contraception or have a baby:
A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. …Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.
Let’s string some things together here: “choices concerning contraception…procreation, and childrearing…are protected by the Constitution.” It’s a single line, but it’s no throwaway — especially not in a SCOTUS decision that affirms equal access to happiness and control over one’s own life. It could set a precedent that’s invaluable to the fight to secure reproductive rights once and for all.
Oh if this could only be a good sign!
Check that link out…
The group, Women on Waves, flew the aircraft from Germany to highlight Poland’s restrictive laws against terminating pregnancies.
Waiting for the drone on the other side were two Polish women who took the pills, used to induce a miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.
Abortion was legal in Poland in the Communist era, but outlawed in most cases in 1993.
It is only permitted in cases of rape or incest, in cases of irreversible foetal malformation, or if the mother’s life is at risk.
On the interest of the mob:
And other newsy stories:
Over 150,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced in the region of Mindanao during the armed rebellion that has shaken up southern Philippines for over four decades.
But there is more to Mindanao than war. Weaving, a centuries-old tradition, has become a refuge for some women in the conflict-ridden community. Weaving has helped these women to heal their wounds as they say that the stories of their land are revealed in their patterns.
But challenges are making it more difficult for these women to continue their work. The skills are not being passed on to the younger generation, and women often lack the financial capacity to continue.
A three-metre long mat takes at least two months to make. The patterns are created individually, no pattern is the same. Made from pineapple and abaca fabrics, they are dyed using tree bark and herbal extracts.
Eugene Strong, from the department of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera that “materials are expensive, there are only a few weavers left, and there are only a few buyers as well”.
“For example, here in Basilan, the fabrics are expensive, so not a lot of people buy. We are now looking at where to market it and luckily we have people who help us in the industry.”
Asdinan Baladji is a weaver who, despite the economic challenges, is teaching her daughter Myazare how to weave. “Life is not great but between household chores and a small income I am happy. We do the best we can.”
Video at the link.
The best link for last:
Considering that they’re known for crawling through the sprawling subterranean networks of the world, it should come as no surprise that rats actually dream about the places they want to go.
That’s according to researchers from University College London – who claimed that when the rodents are shown an inaccessible food treat, they’re likely to dream about how they can get it when they nod off to sleep.
Or as lead researcher Hugo Spiers put it: ‘It’s like looking at a holiday brochure for Greece the day before you go – that night you might dream about the pictures.’
Rats, like humans, have dreams about the future.
When they see a treat they can’t reach, rats’ later dreams depict them walking toward it, researchers have found. The discovery may one day provide some insight into what happens in the human mind during sleep.
Maps in the Brain
Scientists already knew that after a rat has explored an area, certain neurons in the hippocampus called “place cells” replay those patterns while the rat sleeps.
“Place cells” in both rats and humans help us store memories about location and form mental maps. When you’re in one spot, a set of place cells fires; when you move to another spot, a different set of place cells fire to mark the new location. If scientists can record the activity of specific brain cells, then, they can spy on how the mind maps new places. So far, that kind of recording requires implanting tiny electrodes on very thin wires into the brain, which can’t be done with human subjects for ethical reasons, but it’s possible with rats.
This is how the scientist found out:
First, researchers let rats explore a T-shaped track. The rats could run along the center of the T, but the arms were blocked by clear barriers. While the rats watched, researchers put food at the end of one arm. The rats could see the food and the route to it, but they couldn’t get there.
Then, when the rats were curled up in their cages afterwards, scientists measured their neuron firing. Their brain activity seemed to show them imagining a route through a place they hadn’t explored before. To confirm this, researchers then put the rats back into the maze, but this time without the barriers. As they explored the arm where they had previously seen the food, the rats’ place cells fired in the same pattern as they had during sleep.
This mental mapping process made up about 8 percent of the rats’ brain activity during sleep. That may not sound like much, but neuroscientist Hugo Spiers, a co-author on the study published in eLife, says it’s a significant amount of activity for the brain to devote to a single task during rest.
That is something to think about.
The rats’ activity may shed some light on what goes on in the human mind during sleep. Sleeping does seem to improve human performance on memory tasks – a finding which has been used to argue against all-night study sessions. And desire is also a crucial part of that process for people. “People are much better at doing the stuff that they’ll make more money on after they’ve slept,” said Spiers. “Something about sleep is using that desire information: that you do want to do better.”
Rats will also become cannibalistic, sort of like humans will…in a figurative sense.
Sorry this is so damn late….think of it as an open thread.
It’s a beautiful day….
….and I am sure that people have been dancing in the streets today…happy, like this chick who was at the John Mellencamp show on Tuesday:
Of course the churches here in Banjoville will be aflame on Sunday. You should see the hateful shit spewing from the “christians” on Bebe’s Facebook…these kids from her school. Let’s just say she has a few less friends tonight. Like this one who is on a mission trip in Haiti at the moment…
If you can’t read it, the bitch says:
I’m thankful that here in Haiti I’m only surrounded by poverty and hunger and orphaned children instead of the REAL issue that is plaguing America right now; same-sex marriage. Oh, wait…
I mean, how much hate can this girl have…at 16? No, don’t answer that. We know the answer.
Bebe is fortunate, her two best friends are positively affected by the decision today. One is her “gay friend Jerry” whose simple response to the news today was to happily say, “Bebe, now I can get married one day!”
Her other friend who is half-black Haitian and half-white, lives with her mom and her “auntie” (who is the mom’s girlfriend.) This gives reinforcement to the dynamic of this family, especially living LGBT and being black in Banjoville.
Anyway, now…Cagle Cartoons
This is an open thread…
All I can say about last night’s-concert….it was fucking awesome!!!!!!
I have no idea what is going on in the world, only that as we were eating breakfast this morning, one of the women working at the hotel was emptying the trash can…no need to say what the color of her skin was….on the news they had a news story about South Carolina’s vote to remove the confederate flag from the Capital. The news anchor also mentioned the movement to ban confederate flags as well. And under her breath I heard her say, quite…without any sense of deep anger or happiness or relief (whatever emotional response anyone would expect), but a feeling of hopelessness with a sigh, “It’s about time.”
All this time and through countless murders, assaults, tortures, lynchings etc of African Americans…Overt racism and continuing blatant discrimination…the fact that a flag may be coming down off a pole is little consolation. It should never have been strung up that fucking pole in the first place.
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
At age 87, Susie Jackson had lived through the era of Jim Crow laws, the civil rights struggle and “through all of the mess racism has caused in this country,” an Ogden minister observed during a prayer service Friday to honor the nine victims of a mass slaying in Charleston, South Carolina.
“She was felled by hatred, racism and terrorism” in her own church, said the Rev. Gage Church of Ogden’s Congregational United Church of Christ.
The Rev. Church was among clergy from several Ogden area churches who joined in a prayer service at Embry Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the aftermath of the mass shooting.
Prayers were offered in honor of the six women and three men who were gunned down while attending a weekly Bible study and prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.
Clergy also prayed for the victims’ families and for peace and justice in a broken world.
“We are angry and anguished, and then we are comforted because we know that in that room, she was not alone,” the Rev. Church prayed.
“The other victims were not alone. You were there. You were holding them in your loving arms.”
Prayers were offered on behalf of each of the victims, who include Jackson, the Rev. and South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; and the Revs. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
Let that sink in for a moment. This woman. What she has seen…and lived through. What hatred she experienced in her life, and the culmination of that hate on Wednesday.
I don’t have the resourcefulness of religion or even the amount of faith required to put this act of hateful violence into perspective. That anyone is capable of “being comforted” at all…about anything, it is beyond my reasoning. I am just constantly turning the thoughts in my mind, that this woman’s entire life…was one entire struggle against something many of us do not an will not experience first hand.
Living as a black woman in the South. And the one place where she should feel safe and at peace, with connections that go back to more than the “anglo-traditional” religious community, the Black Church especially symbolic in many, many ways…here Susie Jackson was murdered.
One of nine…
One of hundreds…
I only have links for you today. We leave this afternoon for Memphis, taking a detour to Shiloh Battlefield. Will post a quick thread on Wednesday…with a longer one on Sunday….Happy Father’s Day to the Daddies out there!
Before I get to more links on Charleston, an update on a shooting here in Georgia from back in March of this year…cop kills unarmed black man:
A quick reminder of what went down:
Police said officers feared for their life when the suspect jumped in a car, tried to get away, and drove at them in the white Maserati.
They have not yet identified the man who died.
The parents of Nicholas Thomas, 23, said their son was the man killed.
Thomas’ parents were both at the scene Tuesday afternoon and told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that police had shot and killed their son.
“He was a lovable guy,” mother Felicia Thomas said. “He was just a lovable guy. He would do anything for everybody. He was just loved cars. He loved his family. He just had a baby. His baby is not even 5 months old.”
Nicolas Thomas’ father, Huey Thomas, told Diamant at the scene, “I guess now, I just want to understand what happened, because I hear so often and here it is now. I’m a professional, my wife is a professional and we have a kid that’s dead.”
It happened across the driveway from a busy Starbucks where witnesses inside took cover as it all unfolded.
“They were standing behind the car, opening fire. He wasn’t driving towards them,” Goodyear customer Brittany Eustache said.
Eustache told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman what happened. She said she watched from inside the store, just feet away.
“The car was not moving when they began to shoot at him. The car had been stopped. He hit a curb. He couldn’t go any further,” she said.
“So at no point was he making any aggressive moves?” Stockman asked her.
“None, none at all. They immediately opened fire on them,” Eustache said.
No police officers were injured. A spokesperson for the Smyrna Police Department said the shooting has already taken an emotional toll on the officers involved.
Thomas’ parents said he was working at the store to pay off fines associated with what they called a traffic warrant.
Police have yet to confirm that. Investigators said they are still trying to figure out how many of the six officers who were at the scene actually opened fire.
A man who was killed by a police officer’s bullet was shot in the back, a medical examiner’s report says, adding a new twist to a case in which police say the man was driving a car toward officers when the incident happened.
An autopsy on the body of 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas was conducted by the Cobb County medical examiner’s office March 25, the day after Thomas was killed while at the wheel of a customer’s Maserati outside the Goodyear tire store where he worked, according to the report that was certified by the medical examiner on Tuesday.
Police have said Smyrna police Sgt. Kenneth Owens shot Thomas because the officer feared for his life. Police have said Thomas was driving toward officers as they tried to serve him with a warrant for a parole violation, though his family says other witnesses dispute that.
The medical examiner’s report says Thomas died from a gunshot wound after a bullet entered his upper back on the right side. The bullet hit his lungs and aorta before coming to rest in his upper chest on the left side.
The autopsy did not determine how far the officer was from Thomas when the shot was fired, but the report says no gunpowder or soot was found on Thomas’ back or shirt.
“Nicholas Thomas died as a result of a gunshot wound of the torso sustained during an altercation with police,” the report says. “The manner of death is classified as homicide. The designation of the manner of death as homicide does not necessarily indicate improper actions on the part of police.”
Mawuli Davis, a lawyer for Thomas’ family said the fact that Thomas was shot in the back “reinforces the position we have taken that he was not a threat to the officers.” It also seems to contradict the police assertion that Thomas was driving toward officers, Davis said.
Back to Charleston:
This link is from a white distant relative of Pinckney: ‘Only white people can save themselves from racism and white supremacism’ – Americas – World – The Independent
Pictures for today’s post:
This is an open thread. My internet is going out. Hope to get the images up soon….
Most of you have probably seen this clip from Jon Stewart:
Watch it if you have not…
I wish I could embed this video.
Last night, Jon Stewart gave a searing oration on the shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., transitioning, as he as often been known to do in events of national tragedy, out of a comic register and into a powerfully somber one. “I didn’t do my job today. So I apologize,” Stewart said sadly. “I got nothin’ for you in terms of jokes and sounds, because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if I wasn’t near the end of the run, or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could’ve pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t. And so, I honestly have nothing, other than just sadness.”
Then…If you haven’t seen this clip of Cenk Unger:
Take a look at that.
So just a few cartoons…
I don’t even think it was lowered to half mast…
This is an open thread.
Well, the kids…my mom and I are heading to Memphis for a few days on Sunday. It is exciting because we will be seeing John Mellencamp perform live. I love Memphis, the few times I went there was wonderful. Something about the river, is truly amazing to see. Anyway, I am running ragged so today, on no sleep mind you….the post is an open thread with cartoons.
Top cartoon is from:
More from Cagle:
Something about an Exclamation Point?
Now the rest…
This is an open thread…
What a man…
The last of what I consider to be a legendary connection to the true classic horror film…Christopher Lee passed away earlier this week. He was 93.
I have several obituaries to share, with some memorials from various actors, directors and friends who have written or made statements about Lee since his death was announced three days ago.
Sir Christopher Lee, known as the master of horror, has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure.
His wife, the former Danish model Birgit Kroencke, decided to hold back the information for four days until all family members and friends were informed. The couple had been married for more than 50 years and had one daughter, Christina.
After dabbling with music throughout much of his career, including a song on The Wicker Man soundtrack, Lee released his first full-length album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in 2010. It was well-received by the heavy metal community and won him the spirit of metal award at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony.
His 2013 single Jingle Hell entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 22, which made him the oldest living artist ever to enter the charts.
Christopher Lee’s initial appearance in Dracula, in 1958, was a shock. Before that moment, the fabled vampire was more associated with Max Schreck’s demonic Nosferatu from the classic German silent picture — a pale creature closer to Gollum from today’s Tolkien movies. The vampire was something stunted, bestial, insidious.
But when Lee’s Count Dracula first walked down to the stairs to greet his visitors in the first Hammer movie version it was a revelation. He was tall (six foot five), handsome and well-built, with an easy athleticism and a frank, direct manner. His deep, melodious voice completed the effect: commanding. There was nothing unwholesome-looking about this vampire, not at first: he looked more like a British or at any rate Central European version of Gary Cooper. So it was even more powerful and shocking when this patrician figure disclosed his Satanic qualities: and that face became pale and contorted, when the lips peeled back to reveal the fangs, the eyes turned red and the lips dripped with blood — and his whole being oozed with forbidden sexuality. Christopher Lee was Dracula; he had taken over the character as clearly as Sean Connery took over James Bond.
Bradshaw writes more about the Dracula role but also about The Wicker Man:
Lee’s favourite role, perhaps his greatest role, was in a movie made in this same era with obvious debts to the great vampire legend. Lee played Lord Summerisle in the horror classic The Wicker Man in 1973, written by Anthony Shaffer and directed by Robin Hardy. He was the “leader”, or chieftain, of a remote Hebridean island still in thrall to pre-Christian pagan rituals, where Edward Woodward’s pious police officer comes to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Like Dracula, Summerisle is an aristocrat, and also a big beast: a physically and vocally imperious leader who looms over everyone. He is like a human and rational version of Dracula, but every bit as sinister. The film is of course noted for the burning wicker man statue itself. Every time I see the film, that outline looks like an occult reflection of the larger-than-life figure of Summerisle — and Lee.
As for the life of Lee: Christopher Lee obituary | Film | The Guardian
Lee became an actor almost by accident. Through birth and education he seemed a more likely candidate for the diplomatic ladder, but he never reached the first rung. His father, Geoffrey, a colonel much decorated in the first world war, wrecked through gambling his marriage to Estelle, the daughter of the Italian Marquis de Sarzano, and a society beauty of the 1920s. Christopher was born in Belgravia, London. His education at Wellington college, Berkshire, ended abruptly at 17, and he had to get along on the pittance of a City clerk.
But the second world war might be said to have rescued him, making him an intelligence officer with an RAF squadron through north Africa and Italy. At the end, he was seconded for a period with a unit investigating war crimes. Though demobbed with the rank of lieutenant, he had suffered a psychological trauma in training and was never a pilot. In his later civilian life he was endlessly required to fly as a passenger, and it was barely a consolation to him having his film contracts stipulate that he travel first class.
Without previous aspirations or natural talent for acting, except a pleasing dark baritone voice that he exercised in song at home and abroad every day of his life, he was pushed towards film by one of his influential Italian relatives, Nicolò Carandini, then president of the Alitalia airline, who backed the suggestion with a chat to the Italian head of Two Cities Films, Filippo del Giudice. Lee was put on a seven-year contract by the Rank entertainment group, with the executive who signed it saying: “Why is Filippo wasting my time with a man who is too tall to be an actor?”
His height – 6ft 4in, kept upright by his lofty temperament and fondness for playing off scratch in pro-am golf tournaments – actually proved helpful in securing him the parts for which he had the most affinity: authority figures.
He shared his aptness for sinister material with two friends who lived near his London home in a Chelsea square: the writer of occult thrillers Dennis Wheatley and the actor Boris Karloff. The latter once cheered him up when Lee was overloaded with horror roles, remarking, “Types are continually in work.”
Lee initially studied method acting at Rank’s “charm school”, where he was supposed to spend six months of the year in rep. But floundering at the Connaught in Worthing, and humiliated by audience laughter when he put his hand through a window supposedly made of glass, he recognised that the theatre was not his metier and never went near the stage again. Perhaps the most useful coaching Rank gave him was in swordplay: across his career he fought in more screen duels than opponents such as Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks put together.
Mr. Lee was 35 when his breakthrough film, Terence Fisher’s British horror movie “The Curse of Frankenstein,” was released in 1957. He played the creature. But it was a year later, when he played the title role in Mr. Fisher’s “Dracula,” that his cinematic identity became forever associated with Bram Stoker’s noble, ravenous vampire, who in Mr. Lee’s characterization exuded a certain lascivious sex appeal.
Even in his 70s and 80s, Mr. Lee, as evil incarnate, could strike fear in the hearts of moviegoers. He played the treacherous light-saber-wielding villain Count Dooku in the “Star Wars” installments “Episode II — Attack of the Clones” (2002) and “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” (2005). And he was the dangerously charismatic wizard Saruman, set on destroying “the world of men,” in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies.
Mr. Lee could be philosophical about having been typecast. Of his roughly 250 movie and television roles, only 15 or so had been in horror films, he maintained in an interview with The New York Times in 2002. And they included at least 10 outings as Dracula (sequels included “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” in 1966 and “The Satanic Rites of Dracula” in 1973), as well as one as Frankenstein’s monster and one as the Mummy.
Many of his other characters were nevertheless terrifying. He was the swashbuckling assassin Rochefort in “The Three Musketeers” (1974); the eerily manipulative title character in “Rasputin: The Mad Monk” (1966); the Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974); a Nazi officer in Steven Spielberg’s “1941” (1979); and a mad scientist in “Gremlins II” (1990). During the 1960s, he played the title role of the Chinese criminal mastermind in five Fu Manchu movies.
But Mr. Lee also played men of quieter power. He was the dying founder of Pakistan in “Jinnah” (1998); Sherlock Holmes’s brother in Billy Wilder’s “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (1970); and Prince Philip in a television film, “Charles and Diana: A Royal Love Story” (1982). He even made a western, “Hannie Caulder” (1971), with Raquel Welch, in which he played a peaceful family man.
If Sir Christopher Lee had just been a movie star, he would still have been an icon. But the late actor, who passed away last week, had an amazing life even beyond his incredible body of work. Whether you’re still lamenting his passing or unsure why his death is such a loss, here’s 22 reasons why Christopher Lee will always be a legend.
Like this one:
7) Lee never said anything specific about his time in the SOE, but he did say this: “I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we would never have won.” By the end of the war he’d received commendations for bravery from the British, Polish, Czech and Yugoslavia governments.
It is with tremendous sadness that I learnt of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee. He was 93 years old, had not been in his usual good health for some time, but his spirit remained, as always, indomitable.
Christopher spoke seven languages; he was in every sense, a man of the world; well versed in art, politics, literature, history and science. He was scholar, a singer, an extraordinary raconteur and of course, a marvelous actor. One of my favourite things to do whenever I came to London would be to visit with Christopher and Gitte where he would regale me for hours with stories about his extraordinary life. I loved to listen to them and he loved to tell them – they were made all the more compelling because they were true – stories from his time with the SAS, through the Second World War, to the Hammer Horror years and later, his work with Tim Burton – of which he was enormously proud.
I was lucky enough to work with Chris on five films all told and it never ceased to be a thrill to see him on set. I remember him saying on my 40th Birthday (he was 80 at the time), “You’re half the man I am”. Being half the man Christopher Lee is, is more than I could ever hope for. He was a true gentleman, in an era that no longer values gentleman.
I grew up loving Christopher Lee movies. For most of my life I was enthralled by the great iconic roles he not only created – but continued to own decades later. But somewhere along the way Christopher Lee suddenly, and magically, dissolved away and he became my friend, Chris. And I loved Chris even more.
There will never be another Christopher Lee. He has a unique place in the history of cinema and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.
The world will be a lesser place without him in it.
My deepest sympathies to Gitte and to his family and friends.
Rest in peace, Chris.
An icon of cinema has passed into legend.
There is a gallery at the NYT’s link with 250 pictures of Lee in various movie/tv roles.
For a fun take on the life of Christopher Lee…Badass of the Week: Christopher Lee
Past interviews and reviews:
Interview: Christopher Lee – Telegraph from 2011
According to the video, Jackson was blocking a scene in which Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) stabs Saruman (Lee) in the back. Jackson goes into a long explanation about how he wants Lee to react and Lee says, “Have you any idea what kind of noise happens when somebody’s stabbed in the back? Because I do.” Lee was a veteran of World War II. The whole rundown is embedded below along with a collection of Lee memories from his colleagues, fans and plenty of delightful Lee voice work. This man was King.
The video is chilling…go watch it.
Filming a scene in Return of the King (seen only in the extended version), when Grima Wormtongue (Brad Dourif) stabs Saruman in the back on top of the tower, Christopher Lee corrected Peter Jackson on the fact that when a person is stabbed in the back of the chest, they do not scream (as the director wanted), in fact the air is pushed out of their lungs and they “groan” with an exhalation of air, very quietly, as their lungs have been punctured.
From Peter Jackson’s DVD commentary: “When I was shooting the stabbing shot with Christopher, as a director would, I was explaining to him what he should do… And he says, ‘Peter, have you ever heard the sound a man makes when he’s stabbed in the back?’ And I said, ‘Um, no.’ And he says ‘Well, I have, and I know what to do.’”
The crew said that they knew Christopher Lee had been in the British Royal Air Force Intelligence Service in World War Two, and they didn’t really push him for more information about how he knew in such detail exactly what noise a person makes when this is done to them.
When pressed by an eager interviewer on his SAS past, he leaned forward and whispered: “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes!” the interviewer replied, breathless with excitement.
“So can I.” replied a smiling Lee, sitting back in his chair.
Sounds like there should be a film about Christopher Lee’s life to me!
TCM will be celebrating Christopher Lee in Film on June 22nd with the following films, unfortunately The Wicker Man is not on the list: TCM Remembers Christopher Lee
6:15 AM The Mummy (1959)
8:00 AM The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
9:30 AM Horror of Dracula (1958)
11:00 AM Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966)
12:45 PM Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1969)
2:30 PM Horror Express (1972)
4:00 PM The Three Musketeers (1972)
6:00 PM The Four Musketeers (1975)
Now for a few newsy links:
Let’s end with an update:
And We Shall End With a Nice Time!
Yr Wonkette had previously noted the story of Cameron Boland, the Florida go-getter who was all ready to be a National Honor Society something or other but then had to go whore it up by exposing her bare shoulders. (“Dirty little slut,” Jeb Bush says into the mirror, while fapping, probably.)
Well. It turns out that
slut-shamingupholding basic moral principles does not in fact go over well, so the National Honor Society prudes have officially reconsidered. Hooray for bare shoulders!
As we Wonksplained:
For once, and probably never again, the state of Florida is actually the source of some Nice Time! You might remember the story last week about Cameron Boland, the junior at Fort Myers High School who was stripped of her elected position as her county’s National Honor Society “Historian” — really more of a social-media/press relations job — because she gave her campaign speech wearing a sundress with excessively thin straps. (We keep seeing them described as “spaghetti straps,” but those are at least linguini straps.) Anyhow, all the negative publicity the story generated seems to have shamed the school district, or at least made it say “Oh well, what the hell,” and now the Lee County School District’s superintendent has given Cameron back the “Historian” position. Another girl who also had her NHS job taken away for being bare-shouldered has been restored to the position of NHS president for Lee County. The girls will share their positions with the students who were chosen to replace them, so that all noses may remain safely in joint.
See, good things do happen in Florida every once in a while. Usually after a healthy dose of shame.
Have a good Sunday. This is an open thread of course.