March 31st, 2008

Chris Keeley

Uri Avnery on the Israeli Palestinians--3/29/08

 Uri Avnery

                "Death to the Arabs!"

TOMORROW WILL BE the 32nd anniversary of the first "Day of the Land" - one of the defining events in the history of Israel.

I remember the day well. I was at Ben Gurion airport, on the way to a secret meeting in London with Said Hamami, Yasser Arafat's emissary, when someone told me: "They have killed a lot of Arab protestors!"

That was not entirely unexpected. A few days before, we - members of the newly formed Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - had handed the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, an urgent memorandum warning him that the government's intention of expropriating huge chunks of land from Arab villages would cause an explosion. We included a proposal for an alternative solution, worked out by Lova Eliav, a veteran expert on settlements.

When I returned from abroad, the poet Yevi suggested that we make a symbolic gesture of sorrow and regret for the killings. Three of us - Yevi himself, the painter Dan Kedar and I - laid wreaths on the graves of the victims. This aroused a wave of hatred against us. I felt that something profoundly significant had happened, that the relationship between Jews and Arabs within the state had changed fundamentally.

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Chris Keeley

Zimbabwe Opposition Claims Victory Against Mugabe

Siegelman Links Karl Rove to His Prosecution

The former Democratic governor of Alabama Don Siegelman says politics played a leading role in his prosecution. In his first interview since being released from jail, Siegelman said there had been abuse of power in his case and repeatedly cited the influence of Karl Rove, the former White House political director. Siegelman told the New York Times, “His fingerprints are smeared all over the case.” On Friday Siegelman was released on bond while he appeals a conviction on corruption charges. Critics say he is the target of a political witch hunt. More than fifty former state attorney generals have called for a congressional investigation into Siegelman’s case

Zimbabwe Opposition Claims Victory Against Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leaders have claimed victory in an election that could unseat President Robert Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for twenty-eight years. Full official elections results have not yet been released. Provisional findings, leaked to The Independent of London last night indicated that the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had taken 191 of 210 parliamentary seats

Chris Keeley

Bush Jeered at Baseball Game

Bush Jeered at Baseball Game

Meanwhile, President Bush was met by jeers and cheers last night as he threw out the first pitch of the Washington Nationals baseball season. The Washington Nationals opened their season in a new $600 million stadium that was financed almost entirely by government subsidies.

80-Year-Old Deacon Arrested at Mall for Antiwar T-Shirt

In Long Island, New York, an eighty-year-old church deacon was removed from a shopping mall Saturday and arrested after he refused to remove a t-shirt protesting the Iraq war. Deacon Don Zirkel was handing out antiwar pamphlets when he was approached by security guards at the Smith Haven Mall. The guards placed him under citizen’s arrest after he refused orders to turn his t-shirt inside out. When the local police arrived they charged him with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.

Chris Keeley

Dith Pran, Photojournalist and Survivor of the Killing Fields, Dies at 65

Mr. Dith, right, interviewed a government soldier in August 1973 about the American bombing of Cambodia as The Times correspondent Sydney H. Schanberg took notes. With the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, Mr. Schanberg was forced from the country, and Mr. Dith became a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Communists. Mr. Schanberg returned to the United States and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Cambodia, which he accepted on behalf of Mr. Dith as well. Mr. Dith, despite Mr. Schanberg's frantic efforts, was sent to the countryside to join millions working as virtual slaves

In 1979, Mr. Dith escaped over the Thai border. He returned to Cambodia in the summer of 1989, at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. At left, Mr. Dith visited a museum at Tuol Sleng that is the site of the torture of 20,000 people, almost all of whom were also killed.

Dith PranPhotographs

Dith Pran 

March 31, 2008

Dith Pran, Photojournalist and Survivor of the Killing Fields, Dies at 65

Dith Pran, a photojournalist for The New York Times whose gruesome ordeal in the killing fields of Cambodia was re-created in a 1984 movie that gave him an eminence he tenaciously used to press for his people’s rights, died on Sunday at a hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, N.J.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, which had spread, said his friend Sydney H. Schanberg.

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Chris Keeley

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Roman Polanski at a court appearance in Los Angeles in 1977. Soon after, he fled the country and has never returned.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

The Judge, the Director and the Vagaries of JusticeBy MANOHLA DARGIS

Published: March 31, 2008

The sharply argued documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” isn’t about the innocence or guilt of its title subject, who after pleading guilty in 1977 to having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a minor flew from Los Angeles to London, never again to return to America. Neither is it about Mr. Polanski’s likability, his tragic past, morals, short stature, brilliant and bad films, the sleaze factor or your personal feelings on whether there’s anything wrong with a 43-year-old man’s having sex with a 13-year-old girl. All these elements come teasingly into view here, but really this is a movie about a very different kind of perversion.

“Wanted and Desired,” which opened on Friday without advance press screenings, was bought by HBO at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Its one-week theatrical run will make it eligible for Academy Award consideration, though given that organization’s often pitiful record when it comes to nonfiction film, it seems unlikely that a movie this subtly intelligent would make its short list. That’s especially true because the director, Marina Zenovich, refuses to wag her finger at Mr. Polanski, even when presenting the sordid and grimly pathetic details of his crime, like the Champagne and partial Quaalude he furnished the 13-year-old girl and her repeated nos.

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Chris Keeley

Rosalind Solomon: Inside Out at Silverstein Photography. "...a multimedia exhibition featuring the w

Rosalind Solomon: Inside Out at Silverstein Photography. "...a multimedia exhibition featuring the works of artist Rosalind Solomon. Solomon’s work is non-linear, flowing back and forth between the personal and the universal, addressing struggle and survival, ritual and reality, surface and substance. Although Solomon’s photographs have been widely exhibited around the world, including her noteworthy 1986 exhibition Ritual at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Inside Out offers the viewer an intimate glimpse of the artist through pivotal multimedia works and photographs seen here for the first time." More at The Photographs of Rosalind Solomon.
Chris Keeley




Robert Frank’s Unsentimental Journey

Published in 1958, Robert Frank’s photographic manifesto, The Americans, torched the national myth, bringing him such comrades as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and—for a controversial documentary—the Rolling Stones. On a trip to China, the 83-year-old rebel of postwar film still defies expectations.

by Charlie LeDuff April 2008

Robert Frank and June Leaf in Pingyao, China

Robert Frank and his wife, June Leaf (right), at the opening of the Pingyao International Photography Festival, in Pingyao, China. Photograph by Edward Keating.

Robert Frank, the photographic master, the last human being it’s been said to discover anything new behind a viewfinder, collapsed in a filthy Chinese soup shop and no one had thought to bring along a camera.

He looked like something from a Kandinsky painting—slumped between a wall and stool—sea green, limp, limbs akimbo. It would have made a good, unsentimental picture: a dead man and a bowl of soup. Frank would have liked it. The lighting was right.

The shop was hidden away in the shadow of a Confucian temple in the ancient walled city of Pingyao, China, about 450 miles southwest of Beijing, where Frank had come as an honored guest of a photography festival. The city is a photographic dream, a 2,700-year-old dollhouse of clay brick, camels, coal embers, and carved cornices. So many photographers had descended upon the place that a picture of a man taking a picture of a man taking a picture of a man taking a picture of a picture was considered interesting enough and yet nobody at the dead man’s table had so much as a sketching tablet.

Frank had not looked well even before the soup arrived. He was lumpy and disheveled, his eyes rheumy, the lids bloated. He carried the general form of a man who had been pummeled senseless with a feather pillow. His Dunkin’ Donuts cap had the flat, leathery texture of a dead cat on a highway. His shirt was misbuttoned, his shoes untied, his trousers—his trusted friend the trousers: he had not changed them in a while. They became such companions during his road trip to China—the old Beatnik and these new blue leggings—that I gave the trousers a name: Billy. Frank liked the name. It seemed unsentimental in some way. Frank liked things unsentimental.

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Chris Keeley

Then came a series of self-studies. They are hard to look at. In Conversations in Vermont (1969), fo

Then came a series of self-studies. They are hard to look at. In Conversations in Vermont (1969), for instance, Frank follows his two children to boarding school and asks them to articulate his failings as a man and a parent.

In Home Improvements (1985), he picks up the scene, this time outside a Bronx mental hospital on his way to visit his son: “Pablo, I promise you, I won’t give up,” Frank says in voice-over. In the hospital, Pablo Frank is unresponsive, borderline insane. When Frank leaves, we hear his voice again: “It means a lot to him, when I try. I just don’t know how long I can do it.”

Frank’s most famous film is one few have ever seen. The rockumentary Cocksucker Blues chronicled the sexploits and drug-fueled mania of the Rolling Stones during their 1972 tour in support of Exile on Main Street. The photo-collage artwork for the album cover is also Frank’s.

Though critics have written that much of the film was staged—calling into question the truthfulness of the entire body of his work—Frank said that only one scene had been: the sex with the groupie on the airplane. The band’s behavior is so hedonistic in the film that they successfully sued to keep it from ever being shown commercially.

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Chris Keeley

Film director Jules Dassin passes away at 97

Dear Chris,
     As you know, Julie Dassin was a dear friend of ours.  I always
kept his latest letter in my desk mail.  Though these last two or three
Christmases I have said not to answer - he always wrote by hand.  Here
is his latest note dated 5/l/06 (I think this is European dating - i:e
February l5, l906 (thus 95 years old) in his writing)
                       "Dear Louise dear Bob,
                               Thoughts of you come from time to time - as always warmly welcomed.
                                Thanks for your good wishes -and mine for you as of old.
                                Friendly, friendly
He and Melina had a perfect marriage.  Melina broke many hearts before
she met Julie on preparations for Never on Sunday.  I have several
friends in Athens who lost their husbands or boy friends to her.  But
after they were married they were inseparable until she died of lung
cancer about l0 years or more ago. The last place They  lived in a
nice, but not showy or anything apt near the residence which is now
called Melina Mercouri St.  They also had a place in Epidavros - we
often went to MM St. before and after her death and though invited to E
never got there.   Though he lived abroad for so many years (in exile
as one of the Hollywood Ten)  he never lost his interest in US politics
and I used to send him stuff.
I honestly did not know his age or ever wonder about it.  The last time
we were there he had the same cook and maid that Melina had always had
and she bossed him about his food and eating when we dined there.  Many
other memories - he can never be replaced as the most human, funny,
idealistic.  adorable person.   You could not ever think that the role he
played in Never On Sunday is anything like the suave, urbane person he
was.  He turned himself into an American know-nothing jerk - in both
looks and acting!

Louise S. Keeley