Woody Guthrie would have been 100 years old on July 14.
- Truth & Consequence: The Inmate, The Beating, and the Deputies Who Lied About It – by Matthew Fleischer
- Report Says Stop Locking Kids Up for “Status” Offenses….Bratton Named NYPD Commissioner…Why Defendants Accept Plea Bargains….& More
- Nelson Mandela: July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013
- LAPD Running Low on Quality Applicants, Baca Discusses Hiring Fiasco, Compassionate Release, and Sentencing Discretion
- Sheriff to Report to Supes on Hiring Practices, School Districts Across the US Nix Zero-Tolerance…and More
- 12 days of Lists
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- 2014 election
- academic freedom
- American artists
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NORA EPHRON AND THE MATTER OF BREASTS….WRITING….AND LIFE
Nora Ephron was a gifted essayist, novelist, and humorist, a wildly talented screenwriter and film director. And she was a brilliant avocational chef, a devoted mother and wife, who also happened once to be famously married to Carl Bernstein and even more famously divorced from him, and she was a glorious wit—among other worthy occupations.
Ephron died Tuesday of pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukemia, according to the New York Times.
She was 71.
It is preposterously and painfully soon to lose her talent.
I met Nora Ephron once, only briefly, but I liked her right away. Despite her double, triple, quadruple threat talent (writer, screenwriter, director, etc.), she seem grounded and present. Somebody you’d want as a neighbor. Mostly, of course, like the majority grieving her today, I knew her through her work—her movies, naturally, and her books.
Her books more than anything.
Like many American women who happened to pick up Ephron’s writing at a formative age, I was fascinated and inspired by her gutsy girl voice. Most particularly I loved her early essays—written when she was young, vulnerable, sassy, and impressively fearless. Since I first read them when I was also young and vulnerable without the sass, and wishing very much to be far more fearless—they were fantasically permission-giving.
For those of you who only know Nora Ephron from her screenplays (like Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally) and the films she wrote and directed (like You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie and Julia) please allow me to introduce you to at least one piece of her prose writing.
And if you’re going to read only one, it should really probably be the 1972 essay Ephron wrote for Esquire Magazine (for which she then penned a regular column).
The essay, which was later reprinted in her 1975 collection, Crazy Salad, is titled: A FEW WORDS ABOUT BREASTS
(I’ve just excerpted the opening, but there are links to the full piece and, trust me, you’d be foolish to start and not read to her final line, which is: ”I think they’re full of shit.” Happy reading.)
A FEW WORDS ABOUT BREASTS
by Nora Ephron
I have to begin with a few words about androgyny. In grammar school, in the fifth and sixth grades, we were all tyrannized by a rigid set of rules that supposedly determined whether we were boys or girls. The episode in Huckleberry Finn where Huck is disguised as a girl and gives himself away by the way he threads a needle and catches a ball — that kind of thing. We learned that the way you sit, crossed your legs, held a cigarette and looked at your nails, your wristwatch, the way you did these things instinctively was absolute proof of your sex.. Now obviously most children did not take this literally, but I did. I thought that just one slip, just one incorrect cross of my legs or flick of an imaginary, cigarette ash would turn me from whatever I was into the other thing; that would be all it took, really. Even though I was outwardly a girl and had many of the trappings generally associated with the field of girldom — a girl’s name, for example, and dresses, my own telephone, an autograph book — I spent the years of my adolescence absolutely certain that I might at any point gum it up. I did not feel at all like a girl. I was boyish. I was athletic, ambitious, outspoken, competitive, noisy, rambunctious. I had scabs on my knees and my socks slid into my loafers and I could throw a football. I wanted desperately not to be that way, not to be a mixture of both things but instead just one, a girl, a definite indisputable girl. As soft and as pink as a nursery. And nothing would do that for me, I felt, but breasts.
I was about six months younger than everyone in my class, and so for about six months after it began, for six months after my friends had begun to develop — that was the word we used, develop — I was not particularly worried. I would sit in the bathtub and look down at breasts and know that any day now, in second now, they would start growing like everyone else’s. They didn’t. “I want to buy a bra,” I said to my mother one night. “What for?” she said……
Or better yet, buy the book. It has aged well. (As did she.)
Photo of Ephron with her husband, writer Nicholas Pileggi, by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons
GO TO SEE THE U.S. PREMIER OF THE G-DOG MOVIE
G-Dog, the wonderful new documentary film about Father Greg Boyle by Academy Award winning doc director, Freida Mock, will have it’s US premiere on Sunday, Father’s Day, at 4:20 p.m. at the LA Film Festival downtown,
Father Greg and some of the guys from Homeboy Industries will be on hand to do a Q & A session after the film.
(And, yes, I’m definitely going to be there with a passel of friends and family.)
(But if you go, go early as it will sell out fast, if it hasn’t already.)
BECOME A COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE FOR A FOSTER CARE CHILD—GUYS PARTICULARLY NEEDED
Each month in LA County, more than 800 hurt, frightened and confused children enter the Family Dependency Court, and thus the foster care, system, having been removed from their parent’s custody because of s abuse, neglect or abandonment.
A judge must quickly make all of the important decisions about each foster child’s life and, more often than not, he or she must do so in the context of a system that is overburdened and seems disinterested.
However, a judge can appoint what is called a CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, for the child. This trained and supervised volunteer is charged with advocating for a foster child who is under the court’s protection because of abuse or neglect.
But here’s the deal: only 16% of the volunteers at CASA/LA are male, while 49.8% of the kids in the system are boys. Even more than the girls, the male foster children are too often left with no solid male role models in their lives.
As a consequence, this Father’s Day there is a strong push to get more men involved in volunteering for CASA.
For more info, check the CASALA website.
GO to SEE THE SO CAL PREMIER OF MUSIC FROM THE BIG HOUSE
Today, Friday, at 7:20 p.m., the Loyola Law School Center for Restorative Justice will co-host a screening of the new documentary, Music From the Big House, in which Rita Chiarelli, Canada’s “Queen of the Blues,” makes a musical pilgrimage to Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary at Angola, a place that used to be the bloodiest prison in America, but has always been a place where the some of the deepest, truest blues have been played.
The screening will be held at the Laemmle Theater at 9036 Wilshire Boulevard, in Beverly Hills.
Just about the time that POTUS Obama was snarling traffic getting to his starzilla party in Studio City, civil rights attorney and best selling author Michelle Alexander was rockin’ the house across town in Compton, where she gave a 90-minute speech in front of a large and wildly enthusiastic crowd at a the New Philadelphia AME Church, talking about how Jim Crow is alive and well in this country’s criminal justice system.
Alexander is a legal scholar and a racial equality advocacy lawyer with an impressive resume that includes a Supreme Court clerkship and lots more after that.
But what has really put her on the map is her 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, in which, with mounds of research, Alexander lays out her thesis that the mass incarceration the U.S. has embraced since the mid-1980′s as its primary method of social control is, for black communities, simply devastating. The result is a second class caste system in which, in some major American cities, more than one half of all working age black men, and a growing number of black women, and other minorities, are relegated to a permanently disenfranchised status—much like in the days of Jim Crow, but in far greater numbers. Right now if you are a black man anywhere in America, there is a 32 percent chance that you’ll go to jail or prison at some point in your life.
The New Jim Crow has been the book that criminal justice activists and experts have been urgently recommending above all others these past two years—to the point that when it came out in paperback in January, it became a surprise NY Times best seller.
I first became aware of Alexander’s work when I watched an April 2010 episode of Bill Moyer’s Journal that featured her together with superstar civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, and the combination of what they had to say grabbed my attention, as it encapsulated and quantified what I’d seen anecdotally in my reporting for years.
The usual wiggly iPhone videos below will give you a glimpse of what she has to say as they are from the very beginning of Alexander’s 90-minute talk Thursday night.
You might also enjoy the clip of Alexander with Stephen Colbert on the Cobert Report.
Better yet, just get the book.
However you do it, find a way to check out what Michelle Alexander has to say. Hers is a deeply important American voice that is very much worth your time and attention.
PS: THIS WILL BE A SHORT POSTING because everyone at WitnessLA is working on stories. So stay tuned. There’s a lot coming up soon.
IN THE MEANTIME, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS STORY ON THE CRIME REPORT: CRACKING THE BLUE WALL OF SILENCE, in which former and serving NYPD cops talk about racial profiling and arrest quotas.
ALSO CHECK OUT THE 30-YEAR SENTENCE FOR A FIRST TIME OFFENSE BY THE TEXAS GRANDMOTHER who may or may not have known she was smuggling a ton of drugs in the tour buses that she co-owned, but who got the book thrown at her because she wouldn’t take a deal and had nobody else to give up, so had nothing of value to trade to prosecutors. The Houston Chron has the story.
PS: I’M DELIBERATELY IGNORING THIS STORY, but it’s not that I didn’t see it.
We want our kids to be informed, thinking, confident compassionate, educated people, such a goal is in everyone’s interest, for heaven’s sake, and yet increasingly, as the economy continues to wobble, the commitment to this obviously worthy goal on the part of those with resources seems to be faltering.
It doesn’t help that education has been slashed to a horrific degree. while, at the same time, nonprofits that serve kids and families at risk have watched their funding shrink down to nothing.
And now LA Youth, the Los Angeles based newspaper for and by kids— the largest of its kind in the nation, and an institution that always seemed safe—-is right at the edge of closing its doors at the end of this school year, one more possible casualty of the economic tsunami of 2008.
(Thanks again, Wall Street. Really. Your giant vampire squid-osity is a gift that keeps on giving.)
However, all is not lost. What LA Youth needs to rescue it from disaster is $500,000 in operating funds, and then it can make do with some of the other grants it will receive for specific programs.
They’ve already raised some of what they need, but it ain’t close to enough. They must hit that $500K mark by May 15.
I’ve been a friend and admirer of LA Youth for years now, and have spoken to kids and read essays by other kids, who explain in detail how their lives and sense of self would be far, far different had it not been for the mentoring they received as writers/editors/mentees for this stellar organization.
The video above is by a teacher at Locke High School, where LA Youth runs a weekly program. Just listen. She explains how writing for the newspaper allows kids—many of whom come out of risky personal circumstances—to discover that they count for something, that they have a voice, that what they think/feel/perceive/know can matter.
Put another way, a lot of kids who were struggling in school have now graduated from college, because of the intellectual/emotional lifeline this program tossed to them.
Okay, that’s the pitch. You can check out LA Youth here, and CLICK HERE to donate, if you are so moved. I am told that every little bit helps. (And if you happen to know a wildly wealthy philanthropist, feel free to drop a hint.)
This story by an LA boy named Brian who struggles with schizophrenia, (his last name is withheld so it isn’t archived forever on the internet), was published by LA Youth in 2005, and is emblematic of the extremely valuable work the publication does. Below, is a clip from the introduction to the story by Brian’s editor at LA Youth, Amanda Riddle, who worked with him as part of the paper’s Foster Youth Writing and Education Project, which helps kids who are inside the foster care system and/or the juvenile probation system (or, as in Brian’s case, in a group home) sort through and express their experiences through writing.
Whenever I’m asked, “What’s the longest time it’s taken for a story to be written?” I don’t hesitate to answer. It was Brian’s story about living with schizophrenia. It took a year. Brian and I met once a week, except for when he was hospitalized or just not doing well. Sometimes we worked for an hour, other days because of his ADHD he could focus for only 20 minutes. His story was written paragraph by paragraph, anecdote by anecdote, testing the patience of both writer and editor. But Brian and I were both committed to publishing his story….
THE VOICES NO ONE ELSE CAN HEAR
People with mental illness don’t always live on the streets or end up in a psych ward. They can have normal lives. I have struggled with hearing voices, but I’m getting myself through it.
Before I was 10, I lived pretty much a normal life. I had fun with my friends. I played outside in the street and slept over at their houses. Every Memorial Day, I would drive with my parents up to Santa Rosa to see some family friends, a boy and girl who were about my age. But that all stopped when I was in fifth grade.
I was in class one day and I heard stomping and clicking. I thought someone was walking down the hall and clicking his or her tongue. But when I walked outside, nobody was there.
I heard the noises on and off every day. They would last a few minutes and then come back later that day. It was like rainfall in my head. They would distract me in class and sometimes when I was watching TV or playing video games. I wouldn’t be able to sense or hear my mom or dad. It bothered me, but I thought it was normal to hear them so I didn’t tell my parents.
One day in class I asked my friend if he was hearing any noises. He said no. That made me realize that I was the only one hearing them. It was frustrating because I could not talk to anyone about them because I was scared that people would find out and tease me or call me dumb.
In seventh grade, when I got to school in the morning I would walk around by myself, instead of hanging out with my friends. I also sometimes faked being sick to skip school so I wouldn’t have to be with the other students. I started to get depressed because being the only one hearing noises made me feel alone. I would think, “Should I kill myself?” Then I would get angry for thinking those thoughts and tell myself, “Calm down, Brian.”
I felt like I needed help so I went to the counselor at my middle school. We sat there for two minutes not talking to each other. She finally said, “What are you here for?” I told her, “I feel like I don’t belong in the world.” She asked me why and I told her, “Because I feel like no one loves me or cares for me.” Again she asked why. It was hard for me to get it out, but I finally said I was hearing noises. It felt good to get it out. She said, “I need to call your parents.”
The next day my parents took me to the doctor. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I was feeling depressed and suicidal. Because he thought I might hurt myself, he decided to put me in the hospital for 72 hours.
The hospital was not a happy place to be. It smelled like gloves and medicine, and I was away from my family and friends. I was there for four weeks. I went to school at the hospital and hung out with the other kids in the day room. The doctors would see me for only five minutes a day. They’d ask me questions about how I was doing, like “Are you hearing noises today?” and “Do you feel like you’re ready to go home?” They gave me medication and gradually increased it. The medication worked a little because the noises came every other day. After four weeks the doctors said they thought I could handle it at home. I was excited to go home, but I was still hearing noises.
My scariest experience
The noises slowly got worse and progressed to voices. They told me to kill myself or kill others. One day two weeks after I left the hospital, I had my worst experience. I was in the kitchen when I spaced out for a few minutes—I was standing there like a zombie. When I came back to, I heard the voices. (I don’t remember what they were saying.) The next thing you know, I was holding a knife to my stomach! My mom came in and saw me and tried to persuade me to put it down, but I didn’t have control over what I was doing. My parents called the police, who came and told me to put the knife down. I got scared at that point. I realized what I was doing. So I put it down and kicked it toward them. I went to the hospital after that for a week.
I was in and out of the hospital over the next year. I would zone out for a long time listening to the voices. At first I’d think they were real, but after a few minutes I would realize they were in my head. It was scary because they were angry and would tell me to do things. My mom would say, “Brian, are you OK? Do you need to go to the hospital?” and I would say yes.
That is when I realized how serious it was. I looked at the other kids around me and I saw almost the same thing, other people with problems. Some would get angry really fast. Some would talk to themselves. There were people with drug problems getting restrained and yelling at staff. I asked a girl why she was there and she said she had schizophrenia. She said it was a disorder where you hear or see things that aren’t there and you get really depressed. I realized I might have schizophrenia. But the doctors didn’t tell me anything. They just put me on different medications but nothing was working. It felt like I was on a bus that was going somewhere, but not in the direction I wanted it to. I knew at the hospital I would be safe, but I felt like I needed more help.
The doctors recommended that I go to a group home, where I would live with adult staff members and five other boys who were in foster care or had emotional problems. I thought it would be better for me because I could get help 24/7. I could knock on the door and have a staff member to talk to.
I was 13 when I arrived at the group home. When I first got there, I didn’t like it at all. I missed my parents and there were a lot of rules, like “appearance,” which meant you had to be well groomed. If your shirt wasn’t clean or your hair wasn’t brushed, you would lose privileges, like talking on the phone.
At first I heard voices every day. It was really horrible because I was away from my parents. I would sit in my room and listen to music and rock back and forth. One time one of the staff members came up to me and asked if I was OK. She talked to me and said, “Don’t go straight to killing yourself. Think about what is around you like your parents, family and friends.” I thought about what she said for two days. Even though it was hard, I thought about all the people who loved me, like my parents and my grandpa. That helped me get through my depression. After that when I missed my parents, I would remember what she said.
by Taylor Walker
USING PHOTOGRAPHS TO CHANGE MINDS ABOUT LOCKED UP KIDS
The Juvenile-in-Justice project, created by Photographer Richard Ross, documents the conditions youths live in within the juvenile justice system. The project is intended to raise awareness and will include traveling exhibit and a book–both due Fall 2012. The Juvenile-in-Justice book will include over 1000 photos of incarcerated juveniles and over 200 photos of staff and essays from This American Life’s Ira Glass and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Bart Lubow. The website and blog about the project features amazing images and interviews and is absolutely worth visiting.
Here’s what Ross has to say about the project in a personal statement:
In the past I have photographed for major magazines, newspapers and institutions. At this phase in my career I am turning my lens towards the juvenile justice system and using what I have learned in 40+ years of photography to create a body of work of compelling images to instigate policy reform. My medium is a conscience. My products are photographic and textual evidence of a system that houses, on any given day, over 90,000 kids.
TRAGEDY ALL AROUND WHEN A 14-YEAR OLD LA BOY KILLS HIS ICE AGENT DAD
A 14-year-old was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of shooting and killing his father, a Los Angeles-based ICE agent. Authorities say the boy shot his father, Myron Chism, in the back of the head with Myron’s federal-issued handgun.
AP’s Greg Risling has the story. Here’s a clip:
The father was found dead after the boy called 911 late Wednesday and said the man had been shot in the back of the head by a bullet fired through a window from the backyard of their home in Carson, near Los Angeles, sheriff’s officials said.
“Evidence gained from the scene and statements made by the suspect” led to the arrest, sheriff’s Lt. Holly Francisco said.
The boy was taken into custody at the home and booked for investigation of murder.
No motive for the killing was released.
LA Times’ Matt Stevens and Kim Christensen also covered the story.
Larry Altman of the Long Beach Press-Telegram too has a lengthy report.
Let us hope that prosecutors don’t compound this tragedy by racing to try the boy who killed his dad as an adult so they can give him the usual LWOP sentence.
SPLIT CALIFORNIA APPEALS COURT SAYS 50-TO-LIFE SENTENCE FOR 16-YEAR-OLD SHOULD REMAIN
In a 2-1 split decision this week, a California appeals court upheld a 50-to-life sentence given to a 16-year-old. Quochuy “Tony” Tran was charged in 2007 with killing 15-year-old Ichinkhorloo “Iko” Bayarsaikhan at an Alameda park after two groups of kids yelled insults at each other. Tran’s five friends, who were with him the night of the shooting, were also tried for murder, but in juvenile court, while Tran was tried as an adult for the killing, which appeared to be the result of an angry impulse and a single shot. As a result, a girl is dead and a young man will live out most of his life in prison.
Here’s a clip from the story by Bob Egelko from the SF Chron:
Tran’s sentence was “proportional to his crime,” said Presiding Justice William McGuiness in the ruling by the First District Court of Appeal. He said Tran was the instigator of the killing and an attempted robbery that preceded it. And under legal precedent, McGuiness said, the U.S. Supreme Court has only shielded minors from sentences of death or, in non-homicide cases, of life without the possibility of parole. The high court is considering whether to extend those rulings to a ban against all life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, but McGuiness said that wouldn’t apply to Tran because it’s possible he will be paroled within his lifetime.
But dissenting Justice Stuart Pollak said the logic of the previous rulings should also apply to a youth like Tran whose crime, while “horrible and tragic,” was the result of “a single sudden and impulsive act.”
Pollak said a counselor who worked with Tran after he was jailed described him as ”a child … angry, impulsive, and dangerous,” who matured into “an admirable, independent-minded young man.” Although the crime deserves severe punishment, the justice said, Tran is capable of rehabilitation and should have a chance to live some portion of his adult life outside prison.
The state Supreme Court has already agreed to decide whether another 16-year-old, who was sentenced to 110 years in prison for three attempted murders, is constitutionally entitled to a realistic chance at parole. Tran’s lawyer, Frank McCabe, said he’ll ask the court to review his case as well.
You can read the Bay City story on his conviction here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: AND THERE WAS ALSO THE ALTADENA BEAR STORY…AND A WOLF UPDATE
Okay, admittedly not a juvenile justice story, although there were bear cubs involved…
However, after the often painful stories we deal with here, we figured perhaps some cool bear footage was called for.
For those interested who live in No Cal, wolf biologist Carter Niemeyer (whose work I know from the state of Montana) will be in the Bay area talking about wolfish topics in a four event tour that kicks off on May 6.
Today, Friday, Festival of Books weekend begins with the LA Times Book Awards tonight, followed by two full days of fest-ing on the USC campus, featuring author interviews, panels, readings, cooking demonstrations, kids activities, and all manner of other events centered around the celebration of writers and readers.
I’m moderating a panel on Saturday at 3:30 pm called Crime Fiction: Out of the Box
It features a stupendously cool line up of gifted authors, each with an ardent following. (If you like very smart, very literary, very original and culturally savvy noir-ish crime fiction, that also has something interesting to say, these are your guys.)
I pre-interviewed them all Thursday, and trust me, the audience is in for a treat.
As for what else you should see? Oh, there’s an embarrassment of riches. Susan Orlean, John Green (author of the new, hot book, “The Fault in our Stars), Joseph Wambaugh….. Just page through the list.
As always, you should go to any panel that involves my pal Tod Goldberg in any way-–either as a panelist or a moderator. (Really, just trust me. Every year there’s a legendarily funny Tod-related panel that everyone talks about in the Festival’s Green Room, causing those who have missed it to look….you know….sad. But even his non-legendary panels will be good. Just go.)
And my brilliant friend, Tom Bissell, has recently moved into town and is on a panel both Saturday and Sunday. If you know his work, you already understand why one would be wise to do whatever it takes manage to catch one of his panels. If you don’t know who he is….well, take a look. (To intellectual gamers, he’s a god, but he’s also beloved by literary types.)
Just go to USC and walk in a panel at random. Honestly, you can’t go wrong.
I asked WLA’s new news aggregator Taylor Walker, who is, like me, a mad reader, for her picks to click. Here are Taylor’s LATFOB suggestions:
I LOVE the Festival of Books. I’ve attended almost every year with my dad as a quasi-father/daughter tradition.
Here are some of the Saturday panels we will be sitting in on:
1. Robert Kirkman‘s Q&A with Geoff Boucher at 10:30AM
We’re both [not so] secret comic book fans, so this Q&A session is a MUST. Robert is most famous for writing The Walking Dead, a graphic novel series (and TV show) about a zombie-infested dystopian earth and its human inhabitants’ struggle for survival. What’s not to like?
2. Cheryl Strayed‘s on the Memoir: Over the Edge panel moderated by Amy Wallen at 1:30.
Cheryl’s new memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail follows her on her 1,100 mile trek from Mohave to Washington along the Pac. Crest Trail as she hazards physical extremes to find herself. Her hyper-realistic style and literary flourish make her novels that much more delightful for the lit. nerd in me. She’s the witty, slightly vulgar best friend I wish I had.
3. Celeste Fremon’s Crime Fiction: Out of the Box panel at 3:30. (A whim, of course, but I may have heard a thing or two about the fabulous panelists.)
I won’t be able to go on Sunday this year, but here are a few of the events I would have caught:
Rodney King’s Q&A with Patt Morrison at 12:30,
Betty White at 1:20
T.C. Boyle at 4:30.
I’m also entirely content spending a few hours meandering through the crowd, looking at the booths, inevitably getting lost, and enjoying the ambiance created by hundreds of book lovers.
To paraphrase what was once written about Raymond Chandler, Levon Helm sang as if pain hurt and life mattered—but also with an irrepressible resilience. When Levon sang, it was as if the song had always existed.
The son of a cotton farmer and front porch musician out of Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, Helms’ high lonesome tenor was the heart of a cluster of multi-instrument playing, highly gifted musicians known simply as The Band. Guitarist and front man Robbie Robertson wrote most of The Band’s music, but it was Levon, the drummer for godsake, whose county roots-bluesy voice—weathered and indelible, even at a young age—that gave the group legendary status the moment they began to play.
Whatever our flaws, how can one not love an America that has given us the weave of musical influences capable of birthing an artist like Levon Helm?
Impossible, I tell you.
Early in the morning
When the church bells toll
The choir’s gonna sing
And the hearse will roll
On down to the graveyard
Where it’s cold and gray
And then the sun’s gonna shine
Through the shadows
When I go away
Don’t want no sorrow
For this old orphan boy
I don’t want no crying
Only tears of joy
I’m gonna see my mother
Gonna see my father
And I’ll be bound for glory
In the morning
When I go away
I’ll be lifted up to the clouds
On the wings of angels
There’s only flesh and bones
In the ground
Where my troubles will stay
See that storm over yonder
It’s gonna rain all day
But then the sun’s gonna shine
Through the shadows
When I go away
With Taylor Walker
NEW UMBRELLA PHONE TECHNOLOGY WILL BLOCK CELL PHONE CALLS FROM PRISON SAYS CDCR
On Monday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced that it was implementing a new inmate telephone system that will both curb unauthorized cellphone use in lock-ups, and also reduce call rates for prisoners’ families. Global Tel*Link was awarded the contract to put in the the new technology, with the plan set to start taking effect by the end of the year.
Here’s a clip from the CDCR’s press announcement that explains some of the details.
Managed Access technology uses a secure cellular umbrella over a specified area blocking unauthorized cellular communication transmissions, such as e-mails, texts, phone calls, or Internet access.
In 2011, CDCR tested the Managed Access technology at two institutions. The test was conducted over an 11-day period for approximately eight hours a day. During the test, the equipment detected a total of 2,593 unique wireless devices. The equipment blocked more than 25,000 unauthorized communication attempts, such as calls, texts, emails, and efforts to log on to the Internet from a smart phone.
In 2007, CDCR staff discovered nearly 1,400 contraband cell phones. In 2008, it was 2,800; in 2009, 6,995; in 2010, approximately 10,760; in 2011, more than 15,000; and to date this year, 2,181 contraband cell phones have been discovered in prisons and Conservation Camps.
DEATH ROW INMATE IS HIS OWN BEST LAWYER
The NY Times Adam Liptak has the interesting tale of a mentally ill death row inmate who seems to be better at representing himself than either of his previous lawyers. Here’s a clip:
Albert Holland Jr., a death row inmate in Florida, has no legal training and seems to be suffering from a mental illness — “perhaps a disorder involving paranoia or delusional thoughts,” a federal judge wrote recently.
But he turns out to be a pretty good lawyer. Two years ago, in allowing Mr. Holland a fresh chance to make his case after his court-appointed lawyer blew a crucial deadline, the Supreme Court praised Mr. Holland’s legal acumen. Indeed, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote, Mr. Holland had had a better understanding of the complicated time limits for challenging death sentences in federal court than his lawyer had.
Mr. Holland made good use of the opportunity the Supreme Court gave him. A couple of weeks ago, he won a decision granting him a new trial. In the process, he opened a window on the astoundingly spotty quality of court-appointed counsel in capital cases.
The lawyer whose work the justices had considered was the least of it; he had merely been unresponsive and incompetent. Mr. Holland’s earlier lawyers had failed him in much more colorful ways.
Consider Kenneth Delegal, who was assigned to defend Mr. Holland at a 1996 retrial on charges that he killed a Pompano Beach police officer in 1990. Mr. Delegal was removed from the case after being sent to a mental health facility. Later, the two men would see each other at the Broward County jail, where Mr. Delegal was held on drug and domestic violence charges….
There’s more to this story, so read the rest.
NO PULITZER IN FICTION THIS YEAR, JUDGING PANEL IS NOT ONE BIT HAPPY
So the Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday….and no fiction prize was given, a decision by the Pulitzer board that made the fiction judging panel more that a little cranky.
The way it works is that the judges pick three finalists and then the Pulitzer board picks a winner.
Here’s a clip from the Daily Beast’s story on the No-Winner situation.
…On Monday, the prize committee announced that it had not chosen a winner for the fiction award for the first time since 1977. “BREAKING: Fox News Wins Pulitzer for Fiction,” the comedian Andy Borowitz quipped, as readers and pundits around the world took to Twitter to vent their outrage.
Maureen Corrigan, one of three jurors for the fiction prize, says she was just as shocked as everyone else when she learned Monday that there would be no fiction winner. “Honestly, I feel angry on behalf of three great American novels,” said Corrigan, a critic in residence at Georgetown University and a book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air.
Corrigan, along with Susan Larson, former books editor of The Times-Picayune and host of The Reading Life on WWNO-FM, and Michael Cunningham, author of the 1999 Pulitzer winner The Hours, read about 300 novels each over the course of six months. They then met and corresponded to pick three finalists: the late David Foster Wallace’s posthumous and unfinished The Pale King, which was pieced together from manuscripts by Wallace’s editor, Michael Pietsch; the young Karen Russell’s quaintly surreal debut Swamplandia!; and Denis Johnson’s stark and spare novella Train Dreams. The three were submitted to the Pulitzer Prize board, made up of 20 journalists and academics, 18 of them voting members, who must come to a majority vote on the winner. Or not, as was the case this year.
I read all three of the books that Corrigan lists as her panel’s finalists and, I can assure you that any one of the three would have made a genuinely swell winner. Had it been left up to me, I’d have likely picked the Denis Johnson book, Train Dreams, which features sentences so gorgeous they could nearly stop your heart. Still it would have been easy to make a case for either of the other two.
However, none-of-the-above is not a workable choice. Really, it’s not.
Yet the fact that both the Huffington Post and Politico, and that smart 24-year old from PA won their first awards nearly makes up for it.
Among the more notable winners were the Huffington Post’s David Wood, who grabbed the award for national reporting for his reporting on the physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers who were severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The award was HuffPo’s first-ever Pulitzer.
Politico also earned the right to call itself a Pulitzer-winning publication for the first time, thanks to Matt Wuerker’s political cartoons.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Sara Ganim and the staff at Pennsylvania’s Patriot-News nabbed the award for local reporting for uncovering the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal at Penn State.