“I didn’t want to be known as the girl who got shot by the Taliban. I want to be known as the girl who fought the Taliban and who fought for children’s’ right to education.”
At 17, children’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai speaks with the force and authority of someone twice her age. She stood up to the Taliban in her home country of Pakistan when she insisted girls be given a chance to go to school.
Race riots in the summer. Natural disasters. An endless war that keeps sucking us in. Political turmoil. While the state of the world has a late ’60s/early ’70s vibe to it, what’s missing in this comparison is the music. Where’s the rock and pop to match the times? Where’s our Sly Stone or our Marvin Gaye? Is it just about being “Happy” like Pharrell Williams says?
That is what makes The Last Internationale stand out in a field of abstract or commodity-based lyrics, and they are set to rock Velvet Jones this Tuesday. That title — the name of the French left-wing anthem — should give away their political stance and when they took the stage last month at “Late Night with David Letterman” they brought tasty licks from guitarist Edgey Pires, solid beats from Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), and the growling, authoritative vocals of Delila Paz. The song was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood” the lead song of their debut album “We Will Reign.”
After 19 years, Santa Barbara’s LGBTQ film festival, OUTrageous, is back and bigger than ever. Things have come a long way from the festival’s first year, which organizer Mashey Bernstein remembers well as featuring just three films… total. It’s a lesson of tenacity and vision, and the four nights of shorts and features by and about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer alike offer something for everybody.
This festival, Bernstein says, is one of the top three gay community events in Santa Barbara, including the A.I.D.S. Walk and the Pacific Pride Event. And, because Santa Barbara still does not have a gay bar, the festival offers a well-needed chance to socialize, as well as see some great films.
Henry Rollins inspires in many ways. There’s his work ethic, or rather his workaholicism, which sees him taking in hundreds of cities a year for his spoken word tour — Wednesday’s SOhO gig was one of them — then “bouncing” all over the world during his down time, and basically saying yes to any work offer. It’s his pure energy, which glows icy blue hot, a flame that hasn’t died down since his days as the frontman of the seminal punk rock band Black Flag. Seeing he couldn’t hold a tune or keep time, according to him, spoken word was his calling all along. At three hours, there’s no punk band that could keep up.
Without even a stop for a drink of water, Mr. Rollins held the SOhO audience in thrall the entirety of his storytelling. Part of that was from the power of his words, his charisma, and the feeling that terrible things might happen if, heaven forbid, one checked a text message or left for a toilet break. “This is going to be like the longest Jet Blue flight ever,” he said, referring to the cramped seating and his foreknowledge of our asses falling asleep.
Film director Oliver Stone first dealt with South and Central America in 1986, with his breakthrough political drama “Salvador.” He didn’t return to the region as a subject until recently, with two documentaries on Fidel Castro (2003’s “Comandante” and 2004’s “Looking for Fidel”). Now he’s taken on another American bugaboo, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in “South of the Border,” playing this weekend at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Stone’s thesis is that Chavez has been demonized in the American press because he hasn’t gone along with business interests, especially when Chavez nationalized the oil industry.
The film then uses Chavez’ success as an opportunity to discuss other socialist revolutions that have followed in Chavez’ wake — in Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador. The short doc may lack in nuance, but it will introduce many to the leaders in the region, and to countries that never turn up on the nightly news.
Armando Iannucci’s bitter and barbed satire “In the Loop” presents global politics — in particular Washington and some pokey little failed empire called Britain — as a continuation of high school culture. There are bullies, cliques, pranks, bad behavior, badder behavior and worse behavior. There are egos to be stroked and personalities to be torpedoed. By the end, we come to feel that while Iannucci’s vision may be jaded, he may be closest to the truth.
He’s also a deft and clever wordsmith, and “In the Loop” — which features some of the characters in his BBC series “The Thick of It” — is zipitty-spit 90 minutes of hilarious and profane dialogue. This film will probably be many Americans’ first exposure to the Scotsman’s writing, but since the early 1990s, Iannucci has penned some of the UK’s greatest television and radio comedy, starting with “On the Hour” and “The Day Today,” precursors in tone and style to the sharp satire of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on this side of the pond.
Andy Bechlbaum has the eyes of a prankster. Although in his 40s, he still has the wide stare and ear-to-ear grin of a kid who has pulled off something naughty. So it’s a wonder how he and Mike Bonanno, collectively known as the Yes Men, can keep it together to fool a string of people, getting them into business conventions, conferences and televised interviews. Once at their destination — usually a podium — one or both of them present thinly veiled Swiftian satire that leads to befuddlement, and they’re usually tossed out for — and this is the scary part — the request for business cards and further information.
In the speedy film “The Yes Men Fix the World,” we see five situationist pranks from these artists, who have made corporation criticism their raison d”tre since 2000. At a conference for bankers, they discuss a way of profiting from tragedy, and, posing as Halliburton representatives, they unveil an absurd SurvivaBall, an inflatable suit in which one can ride out the apocalypse. At an energy conference, they pass out candles made from a former employee for a world where the dead can be used for fuel. There’s no real flesh in the candle, of course, but the real human hair inside smells foul.
There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don’t know when or whether you’ll need care — but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor’s office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.
This tells you right away that health care can’t be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can’t just trust insurance companies either — they’re not in business for their health, or yours.
The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside a vineyard local, a hippie artist, glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself.
He immediately opened the door and told McNamara there was a radiophone call for him on the bridge. McNamara set down his drink and stepped outside. The artist immediately grabbed him, wrestled him to the railing and pushed him over the side. McNamara managed to get his fingers through the holes in the metal plate that ran from the top of the railing to the scuppers.
McNamara was screaming bloody murder; the artist was prying his fingers loose one at a time. Someone heard the racket and raced out and pulled the artist off.
By the time the ferry docked in the vineyard McNamara had decided against filing charges against the artist, and he was freed and walked away.