Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Randomness Inspired by a Right-wing Sewer Dwellar: Why I Consider It a Complement to be Called "Blacula". An Interview with the Amazing William Marshall



It is so hot here in Chicago that INSERT PHRASE

Please help me out, so I can include the joke in this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show that I am in the process of editing.

I appreciate a good bon mat, turn of phrase, or entertaining dig. I usually don't give Right-wing sewer dwellers any attention, but one of them made a pretty funny observation in response to my recent interview with Ring of Fire TV about the Right-wing hate media.

Said Right-wing urinal cake eater said that I was "Blacula". He or she likely does not realize that they gave me a complement.

I laughed because outside of his role in that exploitation flick, few folks know of William Marshall's amazing acting and stage presence. If I can channel 1/10th of his gravitas and intellectual weight, I would consider myself lucky.

Do you have any tales of unintentional complements meant as insults that make you smile? Great actors or actresses who are known for one genre/niche role, but who deserve(d) a much broader mainstream audience and appreciation.

And just because I can as the proprietor of this online salon, here is a fun bonus treat that should send shivers down your spine and a punch to your soul.

Sir Ian McKellan reads a passage from Shakespeare's Sir Thomas More on the Marc Maron Show:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sharing My Recent Appearance on Ring of Fire TV: The Fox News Right-wing Hate Machine White Supremacist Nexus



As is my habit of sharing and soliciting suggestions, complaints, insights, or other observations, here is my guest appearance on Ring of Fire TV last week.

The Right-wing hate media is expansive--it includes the mainstream Fox News hate media and also more open and honest white supremacist websites. I am increasingly concerned that the average American has no idea that Fox News and the Right-wing echo chamber have been mainstreaming "old fashioned" white supremacist narratives and talking points under the cover of "fair and balanced".

The result? The weaponization of the Right-wing American public.

Right-wing domestic terrorism can be directly connected to the Fox News hate media. Dylann Roof, John Russell Houser, and others of that ilk are the hell spawn of Right-wing media epistemic closure.

Farron Cousins and I talk about those issues, and also pivot for a brief discussion of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, Bernie Sanders, and their disruption of last week's Netroots Nation meeting.

I think this was a good appearance. I have slowed down my cadence significantly since I first began doing TV spots last year. I also feel more comfortable being expressive and pivoting to different subject matter as necessary. Forward march...to borrow from a friend of Chauncey DeVega.com.




Sandra Bland's (Black) American Nightmare: Cars, Cops, Racism, and the Road

It is likely that almost every black American has a story—familial or personal—about being unjustly harassed or otherwise treated badly by this country’s police. These stories begin in childhood and continue throughout life. I, for one, am lucky to have survived my own encounters with police and other security forces. Sandra Bland was not as fortunate.
Bland, as has now been widely reported, was driving from Chicago to Texas to take a dream job at her alma mater Prairie View A&M University. She changed lanes to allow a state trooper, Brian Encinia, to pass. Encinia decided to stop Sandra Bland for an “illegal lane change.” As recorded on Encinia’s dashboard camera, the situation begins badly and ends even worse: Sandra Bland’s basic questions about Encinia’s behavior go unanswered. Encinia becomes agitated that she, a black woman, would dare question him. He orders Bland out of the car, then threatens to “light her up” with his taser.
By this point, Bland must be panic stricken; the state trooper throws her to the ground, assaulting her, injuring her arm and head. The videotape of the incident appears to be altered. The police report is vague and imprecise. Sandra Bland is dead three days later, supposedly hung, having committed suicide with the garbage bag used as a makeshift curtain for her jail cell. This is not a good death.
Responsible black parents tell their children (and those others in their charge) about how to deal with America’s police:
Your life is at risk in every police encounter. The police are not your friends, not if you are a person of color in America. The police could kill you. They are racist, and the system which they are part of is racist. Know your rights but realize that your rights will likely not be respected, because you are black. Do what is necessary to survive. Please come back home alive.
Sandra Bland found herself in the middle of those parables and lessons. As a Black American, she knew how badly it could all end. During the 8 minute long dashboard video, she is narrating her own death.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Semi-Open Thread: 'Pacific Standard' and the 'Texas Monthly' do Some Great Truth-Telling on the Monster John Russell Houser and the Victim Sandra Bland

Some late night/early morning link sharing for a Sunday. As is our habit do treat this as a semi-open thread to share whatever matters of private or public concern that you feel are appropriate.

Saturday was a hot day here in Chicago. My excitement for the day consisted of trying to perfect my pork katsu, watching UFC, and sitting inside with my shirt off and the air conditioner on. I also got to watch the aftermath of an electric transformer explosion (it looked like lightning and sounded like thunder) that stranded travelers on a nearby Metra Electric train. All of the lights and noise from the many fire engines and rescue personnel must have been great masturbation material for the local pyromaniac.

I found two essays and a comment that I felt would be of interest to you, the kind readers and friends of ChaunceyDeVega.com

[And yes, I have decided on a new name for the site as shared on last week's podcast.]

One of you sent me a link to this essay in the Pacific Standard on the toxic, angry, white, Right-wing gunman John Russell Houser who killed three people and wounded 8 others in a Louisiana-area movie theater on Thursday.

At the Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman wrote:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lafayette White Privilege Sleight of Hand: Have You Read CNN's 'Who commits mass shootings?'

Another day; another mass shooting in the United States.

Another day; another mass shooting in the United States by a white man.

Another day; another mass shooting in the United States by a Right-wing white man who was weaponized by the Right-wing Fox News echo chamber hate media.

We have talked about this phenomenon many times here at ChaunceyDeVega.com.

I have discussed this unending reality several times on the RT Network and Free Speech TV.

[It is eerie that I spoke with Farron Cousins on Right of Fire TV last evening about how the Right-wing media is weaponizing its followers.]

We know the script and the white terrorist bingo card game. John Russell Houser, the Lafayette mass shooter, will be humanized, guns will no be central to the "national conversation", Right-wing ideology will be left not critically scrutinized, and toxic white masculinity will go unmentioned by the mainstream corporate media.

The mainstream corporate media is unwilling to state in a plain and direct way that white men are disproportionately represented relative to their percentage of the United States population among those people who commit mass shootings.

CNN has just posted a short piece entitled "Who Commits Mass Shootings" that continues this evasion. Do read the story and see if you catch the written/rhetorical sleight of hand that Dana Ford uses in the essay to avoid stating an uncomfortable truth about white men and mass gun violence.

What are your thoughts on the Lafayette mass shooting? What white privilege gamesmanship have you noticed in how the mainstream news media is discussing John Russell Houser's murderous deeds?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Conversation With Film Director Jonny Campbell and Labor Activist Bill Fletcher Jr.

There are two guests on this week's installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show. It is full of goodness, teaching, learning, and great conversations.

The first talk features Jonny Campbell. He has directed HBO's recent miniseries Casual Vacancy based on the work of Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling. 

Campbell also directed the zombie TV series In the Flesh on the BBC, in addition to the classic Dr. Who episode Vincent and the Doctor.

This conversation was great fun. Chauncey and Jonny have a great dialogue and to and fro about the choices that a director makes in helping to create a final product, the choices one makes in terms of adapting a book to film, life lessons learned in the business, advice for intrepid screenplay and script writers, the zombie genre, and other related matters.

The second part of the podcast is a sit down at the virtual bar with brother Mr. Bill Fletcher Jr. 

Mr. Fletcher is the former director of the activism and advocacy group known as TransAfrica. He has also been on the editorial staff of the print and online magazine known as Black Commentator. Bill is a wonderful guest. He also shares some great mentoring, wisdom, advice, and guidance about social advocacy work, aging gracefully, the importance of labor unions to American progress, labor, the color line, and how social change workers can maintain positive energy in the face of adversity.

Great stuff.

In this episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Chauncey also updates folks about his local neighborhood Sherlock Holmes mystery, his cooking mistake and (then) salvation from last week's podcast, and gets angry about all of the noise that seems to occur whenever he wants to do his intros and outros for The Chauncey DeVega Show.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is in the process of transferring over to the podcast hosting service known as Libsyn.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher as well. Please update your Itunes and other information so that you continue to "subscribe" to the show.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with Jonny Campbell and Bill Fletcher Jr. can also be "watched" on the official Youtube channel. It can be downloaded from Libsyn here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What Are Your Thoughts on 'Black Lives Matter', Netroots Nation, and Bernie Sanders?


I appreciate all of your kind and smart comments on this thread about renaming "We Are Respectable Negroes". I am fortunate to have such a smart group of kind people who read and comment here on the site. I learn so much from all of you. Please keep offering your insights and suggestions on my dilemma.

Tuesday, I had a great conversation with Ring of Fire TV. My segment--which is about 13 minutes--will air this Thursday and Friday. I am not sure if the whole segment will make the show. If not, it is quite likely that the segment in its full length will be posted online.

During that dialogue with host Farron Cousins, he and I talked about my essay on Dylann Roof, Donald Trump, and the Right-wing hate media. We then pivoted to a closing discussion of Bernie Sanders and the Netroots Nation Black Lives Matter protest that occurred earlier this week.


I was not prepared for Farron's question; I am glad that he shared it. 

I spoke what I feel is the truth. I am in this weird liminal space: I have gotten so much more confidence in the last year where I have been chatting with Ring of Fire (and others), yet remaining always careful, but being much more "myself". I know such a description is vague. I also trust that you get my meaning. 

Ultimately, in being "me" with the volume turned up, I try to speak the truth even if it is impolitic. Some folks may be surprised at my comments about Black Lives Matter and their theater--all the world is a stage, is it not?--at Netroots Nation.

I am very curious as to your thoughts about the Black Lives Matter activists and their intervention at Netroots Nation. What are your feelings and analysis of Black Lives Matter and their choice of tactics during that event? If you were advising Bernie Sanders about Black Lives Matter and "black issues" what would you tell him to do?

You have my ear. Please play some songs that I can try to do a cover of, with attribution whenever possible, if I am asked to sit in with the band in the near future.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Need Your Help With Renaming 'We Are Respectable Negroes'

Some of you have noticed that the name "We Are Respectable Negroes", both in Google and other search engines, as well on the tab in your browser, has changed to the name "Indomitable".

When change occurs it should be swift. However, this does not mean that change should come without contemplation or explanation to others or oneself.

The name of this project was born of a specific set of circumstances, timing, and personalities involved. As is common in life, personalities move on one person stands alone, and the times change.

As I have said many, many, many times these last few years I never would have imagined that a fun and humble blogger project would have actually evolved into something that would receive national attention, be mentioned by a Republican presidential candidate, and both hated on and praised by folks in the national (and international) new media. I owe all of that to the good folks such as you who have shared, commented on, and sent good energy to "We Are Respectable Negroes".

What I have tried to do here, is much broader than the topic suggested by the words "respectable" and "negroes". Moreover, as much as I love the name "We Are Respectable Negroes", it was a sign post on a journey that is still ongoing. As readers of the site know, I am fond of military analogies and metaphors. I am not interested in throwing horses at tanks. That struggle is honorable. It makes for a great poem, song, play, book, or a film. Alas, it is ultimately self-defeating and tragic. One can still be the cavalry--albeit now outfitted with tanks, armored fighting vehicles, helicopters, and at some point in the near future, mecha and powered battle suits.

The word "negroes" in the title of the website has also cost us precious time and energy because what I felt was smart and witty more than seven years go, could also be a distraction. If a name is costing a person great opportunities--for whatever reason--it is a liability.

I have some considerable gifts. A sense of names and branding is not one of them.

I have decided on renaming "We Are Respectable Negroes" with the name "Indomitable". This could be permanent. "Indomitable" could also be temporary.

I am very partial to the energy that is summoned by "Indomitable", but I also know that there are other words and phrases that could convey that energy with more aplomb.

As such, I would like your help.

1. The new name will not include any reference to matters of race, racism, black people, negroes, the color line, etc. etc.. I may include that as a sub-header or line on the logo/header however. What I am doing here will remain the same, evolve with the times, and keep on broadening as well.

2. I tinkered with calling the site "WARN" as an homage to the original name. I decided not to, as a good friend and adviser asked me, "what are you warning the reader about? Doesn't sound very welcoming to my ear."

3. The header/top image will likely change too, so please do not be wedded to the photo of me and my cat niece. I am probably going to have a comic book like panel or image done for the site by a professional artist.

4. Part of me thinks just calling it "Chauncey DeVega" and having it listed as "the official page of political essayist and cultural critic Chauncey DeVega" in the browsers/search engines. That seems efficient. But, I keep coming back to having a name, as the eponymous option feels naked to me.

What are your suggestions? Any thoughts or concerns? We are all friends here, so please share any feelings, disappointment, happiness, worry, or like thoughts. If you feel like this is all my call give the go ahead and blessing if you so choose.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Donald Trump and Dylann Roof: The Hate That the Right-Wing Fox News Hate Media Produced


Right-wing domestic terrorist Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston church because he felt that “his country” was being “stolen” from him by African-Americans and other people of color. Republican Presidential candidate and reality TV show star Donald Trump believes that “illegal” immigrants from Mexico are predators who are stealing jobs and resources from America while they rape and murder white women. Dylann Roof is an overt and unapologetic white supremacist terrorist. Donald Trump is a “belligerent, loudmouthed racist.” He is also a leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
The overt white supremacist websites that taught Dylann Roof his racist beliefs, and the more “polite” and “respectable” right-wing media outlets such as Fox News, are part of the same political communication ecosystem. Both Dylann Roof and Donald Trump are channeling the racist political values and talking points that are generated on a daily basis by Fox News and the right-wing propaganda machine. There, ideas circulate back and forth between the “mainstream” media and its peers within the white supremacist political community. Talking points are refined and developed; the issue or controversy of the day is circulated; trolls (often hired by right-leaning public relations firms) are deployed to online comment sections in an effort to create the illusion of consensus on the part of the “silent majority” and “real Americans” on any given issue — all while silencing dissent and harassing those people they do not agree with.
Experts in political communication and media have described the denseness of ties, shared links, and the alternate reality created in the right-wing media (both traditional and digital) as exhibiting a condition of “epistemic closure.” What that means is this: Because contemporary conservatism has created a bizarre and twisted reality for those who consume its news media and other information sources, a state of extreme political polarization has been created. If citizens cannot come to agreement about basic facts, they are crippled in their ability to solve common problems of shared public concern. This crisis is made even more acute by how recent research has demonstrated that those people who listen to Fox News and other right-wing media outlets are more likely to hold erroneous beliefs about the nature of political and social reality. In essence, Fox News is not “news”—it functions as an organized disinformation campaign that propagandizes its followers into accepting right-wing lies and distortions as empirical fact.
The “conspiranoid” fantasies of your crazy uncle or well-intentioned but profoundly ignorant grandmother — who repeatedly forward you emails claiming that Obama was born in another country; or that the United States’ first black president hates white people; or about how the Democrats will create death panels to kill the elderly; that “White America” is a victim of “racism” by black and brown people; or that the United States military is planning to invade Texas — are not born of the ether. They are a product of an echo chamber, a product that is designed to derail, distract, and delegitimate the government.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

William Saletan's Act of Parrhesia: The Chattanooga Mass Shooting was a 'Legal' Act of War, Not Terrorism

As explained by imminent political theorist and philosopher Michel Foucault, parrhesia is:
"parrhesiazesthai" means "to tell the truth." But does the parrhesiastes say what he thinks is true, or does he say what is really true? To my mind, the parrhesiastes says what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true. The parrhesiastes is not only sincere and says what is his opinion, but his opinion is also the truth. He says what he knows to be true. The second characteristic of parrhesia, then, is that there is always an exact coincidence between belief and truth...If there is a kind of "proof" of the sincerity of the parrhesiastes, it is his courage. The fact that a speaker says something dangerous — different from what the majority believes— is a strong indication that he is a parrhesiastes.
In my own writing and public pedagogy it is a principle that I strive to fulfill.

Parrhesia comes with risk.

William Saletan, writing at Slate, has just violated a basic rule in mainstream, corporate news, American public discourse with his new essay "The Chattanooga Killings Aren't Terrorism". There, he dares to suggest that America engages in acts of war, violence, and yes "terrorism" abroad, but that the American people would howl in protest if the same standards of behavior and acts were committed against the "homeland".

He writes: