January 6th, 2006

Chris Keeley

It's Not Personal, Jack, It's Strictly Business

It's Not Personal, Jack, It's Strictly Business


The sight of Jack Abramoff striding out of federal court here yesterday, looking like a stocky gangster from a 40's movie in black fedora and trench coat, may seem like the strongest evidence so far of how graft and hubris have overwhelmed the capital.

It could have been a scene from "The Godfather," a favorite film of the felonious lobbyist. The Washington Post reported that he "did business with people linked to the underworld," bilked Indian tribes of tens of millions and then lavished a bundle in tribal gambling profits on greedy members of Congress.

The Post said Mr. Abramoff loved to amuse colleagues by imitating Michael Corleone as he rejected a corrupt politician's demand for a share of Mafia gambling money: "Senator, you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing."

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You know you're in trouble when John Ashcroft is worried about overreaching.

Chris Keeley

it's possible to be serious without being sanctimonious, funny without being sophomoric, erudite wit

The strongest entries in this volume are written in language that shows that it's possible to be serious without being sanctimonious, funny without being sophomoric, erudite without being pretentious, and these chapters unfold, beguilingly, from the particular to the philosophical, from small case studies to larger, zeitgeisty ruminations.

too bad my writing is not described this way!
Chris Keeley


Dr. Craig Weisman  researched and wrote an article on “directed forgetting.”  We can use our character flaws to help us with letting go of resentments we have forgiven, but not forgotten.  Collapse )
Chris Keeley

"Naked in Ashes" -- so named because of the yogis' practice of covering themselves in the ashes of t

'Ashes': The Not-So-Naked Truth About Yogis

Friday, January 6, 2006; WE32

The documentary "Naked in Ashes," Paula Fouce's account of India's 13 million yogis, is by turns fascinating, puzzling and troubling -- a deeply felt account of the varieties of religious experience but also a thoroughly uncritical apologia for fanaticism.

Fouce travels with Shiv Raj Giri and his disciples, including a young man who has chosen to stand unceasingly for 12 years as his "austerity" and a boy who seeks initiation as a yogi, as they travel to religious shrines and ritual baths in India's holiest rivers; along the way Fouce, a California native who has traveled extensively in Nepal, profiles all manner of renunciates, mendicants, hermits and ascetics.

Although the filmmaker is clearly as besotted with her subjects -- especially Giri -- as their followers, "Naked in Ashes" becomes increasingly disturbing as we see men -- and they are always men -- putting themselves and one another through more and more punishing physical tests. At one point, Giri pulls a fully loaded Jeep with his genitalia, as both a form of spiritual transcendence and political protest (the yogis insist that their way of life is coming under attack by secular government forces); to the cynical, it looks like rank showmanship. (Still, he offers the film's most memorable quote: "The penis-control exercise is not for everyone." Word up, my brother!) "Naked in Ashes" -- so named because of the yogis' practice of covering themselves in the ashes of the cremated -- isn't helped by its amateurish digital-video aesthetic, its ambiguous point of view (an unnamed narrator keeps referring to Giri as "my guru," but it's never clear just who is supposed to be speaking) or its overheated musical score. As an intimate glimpse into an otherwise hidden world, it's admittedly absorbing, but the subjects merit a more rigorous portrait.

-- Ann Hornaday

Naked in Ashes Unrated, 109 minutes Contains brief nudity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Chris Keeley

It was Mr. Scarpa's hit team that pulled alongside Mr. Grancio's car on Jan. 7, 1992, and dispatched

January 6, 2006

A Tale of Cops and Mobsters Who Failed to Overlap

There were two surveillance teams on the streets of southern Brooklyn that day in January, 1992. One was the law: a task force of federal agents and police detectives. The other was the mob: a crew of gangsters who had disguised their sedan with a fake police light and a cardboard cup of coffee on the dashboard.

Although they came from opposing sides, their target was the same: a Colombo family captain by the name of Nicholas Grancio. The agents and detectives wanted to tail their mark at the height of a bloody Mafia civil war. The gangsters, with revenge in mind, had a darker purpose: They wanted him dead.


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