". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gabriel Over the White House

Yesterday, after going to the Met, we went to see a double bill of the Film Forum's Breadlines and Champagne current festival of Depression era movies. As yesterday was Presidents' Day as well as My Day, the bill was this strange Depression era Stalinist film, Gabriel Over the White House (1933), b&w, Gregory la Cava, director. It's billed as 'fantasy,' because by heavenly means the POTUS gets knocked on the head (by his own fault by driving the POTUS limo at nearly 100 mph) and supposedly, according to his (female) secretary -- and there is no Vice President -- is touched by the Angel Gabriel. He wakes up a different guy.

The first persona is an eerily GWB like fellow -- even to doing a bit with his nephew (he doesn't have a wife either) of turning over all the items in the Oval Office looking for Something. Today's audience is compelled to recall the Roaster dinner skit of GWB not finding the WMD under his sofa. This guy is mean, and ignorant, and could care less about it. He's entirely alienated from the millions in the Hoovervilles. He and his cronies, all old white guys, only care about the party and power. He uses military planes to fly to NYC to get a copy of his favorite detective magazine before it will show up on the newstands in D.C.

There are no women in this movie, other than his secretary, who evidently also was his mistress prior to the coma, and who ends up marrying his -- what? Maybe the person that we call Chief of Staff? The other woman who has about 3 words is the daughter of the lower class advocate of the unemployed.

After his knock on the head he Cares about the unemployed. He turns them into an army. To rebuild the infrastructure of the U.S. Evidently there are no unemployed women. And about two people of color. The other one is his valet, devoted to him body and soul whichever person he is. His force of rhetoric (angelic intervention, presumably) cowes the Congress into canceling themselves and giving him unlimited terms. Then he goes on to fix all the other problems in the world. With military force.

The Big Enemy is foreign debt -- and gangsters who don't want Prohibition repealed. He repudiates all the previous pacts with Europe and Japan, and forces them all to sign something called "The Washington Pact," and the moment of his signing, he falls over dead. What are we to make of this?

Then there is the Betty Boop cartoon -- "Boop for President," which is a send up of the pampering of the working man and the lazy poor -- even cats! -- by FDR's plan to build up the country. The Dems are portrayed as Negro asses.

This all seemed so close to the present, we decided to go find Birthday dinner -- particularly as the next title on the double bill was a 'comedy' called Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932), that opened with the black porters on a congressman's train being stupid as a comedy routine. We just couldn't stand it.

At least some things have changed. But not anywhere near as much as one would like. If they had this latest economic disaster wouldn't have happened. Well they learn, but then the regulations were taken away.

Why is it that nobody is talking at all about a link between the endless pallets of billions of U.S. currency disappeared into the sinkhole called the War in Iraq?

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