MONDAY: We’re off observing Memorial Day, and we’ve decided to re-air our show about (the) Prom from last year, featuring Sloane Crosley, Barbara Greenberg, and photographer Mary Ellen Mark. The show included some hilarious (and wrenching) prom stories from listeners calling in. And Sloane was awesome.
TUESDAY: Anarchism. It could be mass public disorder. It could be something as simple as jaywalking. The notion of anarchism has been both a flagrant challenge to the foundations of society and a series of small actions that wrest control away from technocratic elites. We’ll talk about anarchism in history and in everyday life. Yale’s gentleman anarchist James C. Scott is featured.
WEDNESDAY: Rite Of Spring. Stravinsky’s great work touched off riots by its Parisian audience when it was first performed. Today, it turns 100. Conductor Carolyn Kuan and music guru Steve Metcalf lead a panel of guests through questions about why the Rite scared people in its day, and how it turns up in modern music.
THURSDAY: What’s the right way to treat drug abuse and addiction? After living through his own son’s descent into extreme addiction, writer David Sheff tried to figure out what really works — and what doesn’t.
FRIDAY: Berkshire International Film Festival! Our yearly trip to Great Barrington. This year, Chris Noth, Tony Shalhoub, Darlene Love, Mary Kay Place and Karen Allen will be hanging around the Festival, and we’ll clue you in about independent features and documentaries that are already stirring up film-world buzz.
(That’s Ray on the left.
Joshua Hartmann, Fox CT / July 24, 2012 )
Chris Donovan wanted to be a congressman. Now he’s the reluctant star of a federal court multimedia show on corrupt practices, featuring a colorful lineup of bums and goodfella wannabes.
Donovan lost the congressional seat he wanted to Elizabeth Esty, who — in the words of The Courant’s Jon Lender “accepted tens of thousands of dollars from … contributors who work in the industries regulated by her husband,” the state’s Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection Dan Esty. Lately, La Esty has been returning the contributions most blatantly connected to matters pending before Le Esty.
Does it seem like maybe something is wrong here?
Donovan’s mess is bigger because his lame-brained crew got caught breaking the one rule in the otherwise freewheeling feces-tossing monkey house of American politics. You can take campaign money and then wire up government business to benefit the people who gave it to you. But you can’t carve out an openly stated agreement to do that
That’s why Esty is currently living in a “Gilmore Girls” episode set in D.C. and Donovan was standing outside a courthouse last week explaining to the press and a hot dog vendor what “I took care of you, didn’t I?” means.
A lot hinges on those words, spoken by Donovan to Ray Soucy, the case’s thing-who-crawled-out-from-under-a-rock. Soucy is a former corrections officer and union official who went from low-wattage mastermind of a criminal conspiracy to arrested-and-therefore-cooperating informant to star witness at the trial of Robert Braddock Jr., who was Donovan’s campaign finance director.
Soucy, wearing more wires than a surge protector, accosted Donovan at his nominating convention after a plan to tax roll-your-own tobacco shops died a quiet, ambiguous death. The seven people indicted in this case were involved in the transfer of money from the cigarette people to Donovan’s congressional campaign.
The feds were hoping Soucy would catch Donovan admitting that he killed the bill. Before anything else is said, Donovan greets Soucy with “I took care of you, didn’t I?”
Donovan’s somewhat hilarious explanation is that this is an all-purpose salutation, like the famous speech in “Donnie Brasco” when Johnny Depp’s character lays out the many elastic meanings of “forget about it.” The thing is, Donovan is right. Politicians will take credit for almost anything. “How about this great weather? I took care of you, didn’t I?”
Soucy, handling his assignment with all the finesse of a junkyard car crusher, tells Donovan his people are grateful, hence the $20,000 in contributions plus another $10,000 on the way, “for killing the bill.” This completely spooks the deer and Donovan bolts off into the underbrush, saying, “I didn’t kill the bill. I worked on the legislative side. I did the right thing.”
Translation: “Are you wearing a wire or something?”
Soucy seems to be one of the very few people to have watched “The Sopranos” and yearned to be Paulie Walnuts. He is certainly one of the 20 remaining nonfictional Americans to use “10 large” to mean “ten thousand.” But the net impression of the testimony at the Braddock trial was closer to “Bugsy Malone,” the 1976 film in which children pretended to be gangsters.
Scurrying parallel to Donovan’s circus was Larry Cafero, the Republican leader in the House. My colleague Kevin Rennie showed earlier this week how Cafero was caught in a lie. Soucy put $5,000 in cash in Cafero’s refrigerator. Cafero insisted it be taken out — a Healthy Choice! — and his aide persuaded Soucy to convert it to a leaner cuisine of five checks, each for one large, to Republican political action committees. When the Braddock scandal broke, Cafero pretended he had only recently been made aware of this sum.
Forget about it! Here is the important subtext. Nobody in these cases — including the Estys and including lower-ranking House leadership — is unfamiliar with the basic dynamic. You give money to campaigns and you get treated better than the chumps who don’t. This is going to be very hard to change in federal elections because of the creepy, overreaching, legislating-from-the-bench Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Meanwhile, in the immortal — and uncharacteristically true — words of Ray Soucy, caught on an FBI tape, if the public knew what state Capitol politicians would do for a $10,000 contribution, “they’d burn the place down.”
The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists gave this column, from Dec. 21, one of its first place awards last night.
Thank you, SPJ, and thanks to Peter Pach and Carolyn Lumsden at the Courant.
One night in August, 1994, a man sitting alone in a New Haven coffee bar stood up, pulled a knife and stabbed seven people.
One of them was a journalist, Bruce Shapiro. He was badly wounded, but he lived. By some miracle, everybody did. A few months later, Shapiro was watching television news and saw himself, as he would later write, “writhing on an ambulance gurney, bright green shirt open and drenched with blood, skin pale, knee raised, trying desperately and with utter futility to find relief from pain.”
It was a news report about a legislative initiative he didn’t even agree with. They needed, as he told me this week, “B-roll.” They used him.
“B-roll” is supplementary footage. It’s the old, inert, archival clip you drop into the fresher, more vivid report.
The idea stays with me, because that’s what we all do. We’re little TV stations constantly converting raw experience into B-roll. You have to. You’d go crazy if your wedding day, your father’s funeral, the birth of your daughter, the death of your dog, your best kiss and worst Little League strikeout were all as crisp and new in your mind as they were the day they happened. You’d feel the way you did last week, as if the wrong song spilling out of a speaker could tip you into an hour of crying.
From that perspective, healing almost seems like an act of betrayal. Columbine. 9/11. These dropped down on us with poisonous sorrow and bright stinging pain in their day, but now they’re leaden and pickled. We bring them out to make a point about something else. B-roll.
I’m asking. How do you water a moment like this one? How do you keep it green and rich. How do you keep it alive, calling to you like a bird in the nearest tree?
We’ll try to fix a few things, right now, while our skin and souls still burn. What choice do we have? That’s what the president said last Sunday night. What choice do we have? There aren’t many moments like this, when we really understand how thin the ice is, when we understand that life is not on the verge of breaking but is badly snapped and cracked in very important places.
Most of the time, we have a choice. We could read a book about the child soldiers in Africa or we could watch something cool on cable.
For just a little while, we have no choice. Children and teachers were massacred just a few miles from where you’re sitting. We have to do something.
So what comes next? Some gun control laws? Maybe some new attention to mental illness. Something in the schools. I’m all in favor. I really am. I’m all in favor of doing something before we go back to sleep.
One of Ezra Pound’s poems ends “So that:”
Those are the final words. It’s a long meditation on love and death, and it ends “So that:”
So that what?
So that we’ll start it up all over again. We’ll love. We’ll get lost. We’ll wander off course. We’ll see death. We’ll grieve. One day, we’ll be the ones dying.
We pray that there’s something more than that. Who would want to live inside such a crazy clock with such merciless works?
If there’s an elixir, some potion we can drink, it’s almost certainly love. Right? Love is the only possible bright sparkling rope bridge we can clutch as we stutter-step through the dark universe.
What a joke. Our only good piece of equipment is love, the thing we fail at so often. We’ve been talking all week about weapons, but our only sure-fire weapon against chaos and nothingness is love.
Do you keep it oiled and cleaned? Is it right close at hand, so you can grab it and brandish it? Are you packing it right now?
This is all going to turn into B-roll. With each passing day, the filing clerks of our hearts and minds will cart it a little further back, to a dimmer and dustier shelf. But it happened, so that:
I don’t know. I don’t know what comes next.
But I am reminded to love.
If you’re joining us tomorrow, you might want to read this very fascinating article on female sexual desire, which we’ll be discussing.
That may or may not segue into a conversation about men’s underwear.
Or the fact that people are even paying less often for sex.
I’m not sure we’ll talk about this, but it’s funny.
But Ill be surprised if the panel doesnt ignore me in favor of someone elses ideas.
This kind of thing kicks my BP up. The pretense is that these are Three Wise People from different administrations. They will give us a measured, non-partisan picture of the issue. Instead they give us a misleading, cherry-picked, Jack Bauer-influenced version of the truth.
Do me a favor. Read their essay. Now ask yourself if it reflects any the following:
“The AP learned about the thwarted plot last week but agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately because the sensitive intelligence operation was still under way,” the news agency report stated. “Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP decided to disclose the plot Monday despite requests from the Obama administration to wait for an official announcement Tuesday.”
They were going to have a press conference about this! The next day!
Within hours after the AP published its May 7, 2012 story, then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, currently the director of the CIA, held a background conference call in which he assured television network commentators that the bomb plot was never a threat to the American public or aviation safety.
The reason, he said, is because intelligence officials had “inside control” over it.
He later told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he conducted the briefing to avoid “dangerous questions and speculation” about the operation.
So it was the administration, not the AP, that tipped the world to the presence of somebody on the inside.
Last question: what’s up the secret subpoena? If this operation was dormant and capped, so much so that you were planning press conference and briefing the press about the existence of informants, why not go to court and try to get the phone records. You send your lawyers. AP sends theirs. There was no ticking bomb to justify this. And shame of Barr, Gorelick and Wainstein for writing this sneaky, dishonorable load of rubbish.
WWL and WNPR news are planning major coverage of the train crash.
We’re not sure what the role — if any — of our show will be.
Bearing that in mind, here is what we have planned:
MONDAY: Second-Term Blues – Is there really such a thing as a second-term curse for U.S. presidents? Nate Silver of the New York Times seems to think maybe not. But a week of scandals from Benghazi to the IRS have others questioning the viability of Obama’s second go-around in the Oval Office. Later in the show, the so-called “sophomore slump” in baseball and which modern bands suffer from DSAS (Difficult Second Album Syndrome).
TUESDAY: Animal Advocates – There are a slew of bills in the legislature that are supposed to give more rights to Connecticut animals– their owners won’t be allowed to tether them outside at night or during bad weather and they get their own lawyer if someone abuses them. As a matter of fact, animal power is in. There are new laws all over the country and New York mayoral candidates are tripping over each other to show how much they love animals. We might even hear from a group that issues amber alerts for missing kiddies, I mean kitties.
WEDNESDAY: Star Trek – Slate writer Matt Yglesias recently watched every episode and movie in the Star Trek franchise. He writes, “Trek has a very particular take on what it means to be human. Part of what it means, the franchise teaches us, is participating in an ongoing progressive project of building a utopian society. Even though the bulk of Trek comes from the ’90s, the franchise launched in the mid-’60s, and the now-anachronistic spirit of midcentury optimism has remained at the heart of the franchise throughout. It’s a big part of what makes Trek great.” On the heels of the latest J.J. Abrams movie, we’ll talk about how Star Trek serves as a repository for humanity’s collective optimism.
THURSDAY: Psychiatry & The DSM – Each release of a new DSM brings scrutiny as to how helpful the document is to the field of psychiatry and the patients that are diagnosed and treated based on its categories. The DSM-V, which took 20 years to revise, is no different. Practicing psychologist Dr. Gary Greenberg pours his angst about the DSM into “The Book of Woe,” his new book about winnowing the complexity of our minds into what Errol Morris calls, “an arbitrary taxonomy that provides a disorder for everybody.”
FRIDAY: Take a look back at the news of the week and try to make sense of it all with The Nose!
So how do we feel about the Rampage Skater Bros?
Are they the modern equivalent of, say, some of the great wartime photographers who documented — without involving themselves — scenes of mayhem?
Or are they oddly detached, profanity-spewing punks who didn’t help anyone?
Or something else?
(h/t Bobby Sherwood)
Why is the AP Hartford office part of the (undeniably chilling) Justice Department phone records grab?
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
One of the reporters whose records were sought is the fearless Matt “My Name Is Matt Apuzzo; You Killed My Father; Prepare To Die” Apuzzo, who did titanic work in Connecticut circa 2006 on the Galante story and wrapping up interesting loose ends of the Rowland scandal. But he does not work in Hartford anymore. So what gives?
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