Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deadly Serious sandwiched between slices of Silly Bread, served on a Soapbox

Wow, David Mamet's writing an adaptation of the Anne Frank story?

Strange bedfellows.

I visited the Anne Frank house during one of my travels to Amsterdam. The secret annex where she, her family, the Van Pelts and Fritz Pfeffer hid for two years is frighteningly small. It's quite a tourist trap these days, with signs pointing the way at what seems like every corner. I remember joking that it was no wonder the Nazis found her.

So, Mr. Mamet - is the young Anne going to suddenly start spouting expletives into the pages of her diary?

Will sections of the diary newly 'discovered' by Mamet detail Anne's secret excursions into the Amsterdam nightlife, hanging out in bars, knocking 'em back, engaging in witty, rapid fire, bawdy repartee in his usual style?

Is Alex Baldwin going to play the member of the Gestapo that discovered Anne? "Put. That. Diary. Down. Diaries are for Closers Only."

Not sure how many ways you can tell the story, but I know I'll be watching 'cause it'll be interesting: David Mamet is pretty much always that.

warning: climbs atop soap box]

Make no mistake: these guys lived a horrifying few years, and it ended in death for all but Otto Frank. The passage of time doesn't change that fact.

But it does make it less 'real' to those that only know it from history books.

Guess what? The Nazi's don't have a corner on the evil that men do. They stand out in the 20th century only in sheer scale and maybe the degree to which they were able to make it seem 'civilized'.

Well, kids, learn it, learn it well. Not in history books (though there are some good ones). Go there, to Belsen, Auschwitz, etc. Just as important, keep an eye on those scary Holocaust deniers out there. They're all over the web now, so keeping tabs isn't difficult but they ain't going away (and in fact are on the rise).

But then put all that aside and take good hard look at current events and the suffering and death that goes on right goddamn now.

Take a look at the Congo, where they've institutionalized the gang rape of children and young women. Torn up physically to the point where they can't control their own bodily functions and then cast off by their family as damaged goods. God knows how fucked up they are in the head by this horror.

Ya wanna see genocide? Take a look at Darfur in the Sudan.

Is any of this near the scale of the Holocaust? No. But here's the thing: the Holocaust victims are dead and their suffering is over. Nothing you can do to help them. But ya can honor them, by doing what you can to stop this from happening now.

And there's a lot you can do.

I hate sanctimonious schmaltz as much as the next guy and this is about as long as I go without ducking into the safe walls of dark humor, satire or at least some good ol' fashioned irony. I also don't usually trumpet charities and such, simply because ya gotta make your own choices there - they all have their flaws and some much more than others. Most all the legit ones are doing good stuff.

I caught half a CNN report last night on the shit still going down in the Congo. How many years do we as a world allow this shit to continue? Of course, no oil to be had in the Congo, is there? And these evil pricks are smart enough not to posture on the world stage, knowing that we're juvenile enough for that to make a difference.

Same in Darfur, the numbers of dead that much higher.

Lots of great folks are helping out - join their rank.

Anyway, I had to vent, after throwing some coinage, as I try to do regularly but not nearly regularly enough, to the Red Cross, Genocide Intervention Network (Democracy In Action), and Amnesty International.

[Postscript: Amex actually put a hold on my card and issued me a fraud alert when I tried to make a contribution to the Red Cross - seems an odd transaction to be flagged. Are there really thieves out there ripping off credit card info so that they can fraudulently donate to the Red Cross? Robin Hood lives! Or is Red Cross not the upstanding institution it seems?]

Will my pittance help?

It's a drip of water in a firestorm of misery. I mentioned two of the more egregious atrocities but there are plenty more, some much closer to 'home' if that matters to you. Will it help? Not by itself, though I felt alittle better. And enough drips and drops provide at least some relief.

climbs on a soap box sitting on top of the first soap box, this box filled with purely my opinion]

The 'closer to home' excuse always gets my panties in a bunch. I've never been able to understand the whole 'America First' and 'Our own backyard'.

If it ain't someone I know and care about, it ain't my backyard. That's not to say I wouldn't lend a hand to someone I don't know or don't care about - I would and do - just that they don't rate any higher on the scale for me because they live in Springfield USA rather than Africa or Asia or even Canada! (you betcha).

We sometimes tend to treat our country like it's our hometown football team. There be demons down that path. After all, Nationalism and Religion take a lion's share of the blame for all this shit in the first place.

Notice I didn't say patriotism or faith - those can both be very good things indeed.

Nationalism and Religion are their sinister twins.

I have patriotism in the ideals embodied in the United States. I have faith in my friends some of whom are also family. If you have faith in your friends and family or in your God, that is goodness for sure.

We all just gotta be mindful to keep our balance on what can be a slippery slope. Remember, Hitler thought he was doing God's work and Nationalism unbounded swept him into power.

What was it Lennon said? Imagine.

[steps off soap box]

Okay, off my high horse now. After which, I'll shoot it, the dumb beast, hi ho Silver be damned - gotta keep with the theme of this post. And don't get me started with the Michael Vicks of the world. I've got a new sport for him he can train for, requires he get fitted for a raw meat uniform and perhaps a set of 'Bring out the Gimp' restraints. Some of our larger, more abused four-legged friends are involved and they make one hell of a defensive line. 'Bone' Appetite. And that's me being dispassionate. Catch me after a dog fighting investigative report runs some evening - my liberal bleeding heart runneth over.

steps off soap box that was under the first one]

Speaking of genocide, are you aware that someone permitted both the filming and the release of 'Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3'???

Yet here it is, it's on before my eyes.

And I'm powerless to turn the channel, compelled as I am to soak it all in. I don't want to, but strangely, have to watch, like a slow motion car wreck (it mostly consists of those anyway, so the analogy is apt).

I'm as big a fan of headin' East Bound and Down as the next guy but shit on a rope, this is going too far!

Burt has a cameo while Jerry Reed, that Oscar-watching master thespian, takes the reins full steam. And a sad Jackie Gleason.

As Kurtz would say, "The Horror. The Horror."