25 February 2009


There are in my life some very distinguishing screams. Of course, there is the horror contained in Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream.” Fay Wray’s uncontrolled screaming in King Kong certainly set a high standard for the genre. High on my list is the terrified cry elicted from the quaking eleven-year old as I sat frozen holding my banana flavored Turkish taffy (Smack it and crack it!) watching the Japanese horror film, Rodan, at the Plainview Movie Theater. The first sight of those giant ants upon which the great monster fed provoked a involuntary yelp from my terrified soul. Something deep in my unconscious had been touched!

A scream I recall with a bit more pleasure is that of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as they leap off the cliff into the waters below trying to escape the posse which is inexorably closing in on them.

I think there are others: perhaps Janet Leigh’s tortured cries in Hitchcock’s Psycho remains high on my list, as does Marlon Brando’s animal evocations in A Streetcar Named Desire.

But the scream I am most drawn to now is the scream Ronnie Hawkins makes in his performance in The Last Waltz of the classic song, “Who Do You Love?” In four escalating screams, Hawkins displays not fear nor terror, but sheer and uncontainable joy. On that stage at that time, the world is just too much fun. “Big time, Bill, big time,” he announces to the event’s producer, Bill Graham. And what is big about the time is the irrepressible pleasure of the moment that can only be expressed in the scream.

06 February 2009


I saw the creep on the television this past Wednesday. He looked like some villain in a low-grade horror film. In the photo displayed on the television screen, he looked as if he were chewing on human bones from a fresh kill. Or grinding his teeth in a seething rage. Cheney was complaining that in his opinion, the way President Obama is running the country makes it highly susceptible to a massive terrorist attack. Of course, I must recall, it was his opinion that provoked the War in Iraq, the severe loss of American prestige around the world, and I am certain, led to the absolute collapse of the economy. The man has shown himself to be undependable, at best, and dangerous at worst.

But worse, the appeal to fear and paranoia as a means of manipulating public opinion smacks of demagoguery (of course, what else to expect of this demagogue!), and a malicious glee in destruction. I cannot speak to what the Bush administration did to protect the safety of the American public, but I do know that what they did in this single endeavor regarding terrorism may have been more dangerous in the longer run than any imagined terrorist threat their machinations prevented. That is, the horrors the Bush/Cheney administration perpetrated have made the world more dangerous than anything they accomplished to prevent a singular attack.
And so the sinister, evil look on his face filled me with rage and disgust. I think the news media should be more conscientious than to give him a forum to spew his hate and fear. I think the news media have better stories to tell than his contemptible fear-mongering.

Seeing his face ruined my day.