Saturday, June 1, 2013

Assata Shakur & the FBI Top Ten

Check out an essay by Future Use at tap-shoe hermenaut web journal THE CHISELER:

A profile of the early 1970s warzone between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army, in the context of the FBI adding Assata Shakur to the Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorist List...

Monday, April 29, 2013

The McConnell-Judd Tapes

Probably no one cares anymore, but early this month, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell claimed “the Left” bugged his office in Louisville and whistleblew the recordings to Mother Jones, a butcher-block political news journal named after Mary Harris Jones, the turn-of-the-century labor provocateuse born in Cork, Ireland.  In 1913, while on trial for organizing coal miners in the Kanawha Valley, Mother Jones was deemed the “grandmother of all agitators” by West Virginia Senator Nathan Goff.  It was the sort of quip that might have been caught on tape in the McConnell recordings, which detail the Senator and his camp making fun of potential opponent Ashley Judd, the Hollywood actress and Kentucky Wildcats front-row basketball fan.

Judd is painted by the McConnellies as a new-age loon and limousine liberal.  Indeed, Judd’s latest role, in the box office limper Olympus Has Fallen, she plays the First Lady, when the White House is infiltrated by terrorists… 

McConnell has described the tactics of “the Left” as “Nixonian,” which suggests paranoia, burglary, and a fear of the press.  McConnell is heard planning to play “Whac-A-Mole” with the Louisville Courier-Journal.  “When anybody sticks their head up, do them out…”  A female voice chimes in, “We're anxious for that.” [laughter.]

The bugs are alleged to have been planted by Progress Kentucky, a liberal super PAC.  Sen. McConnell demanded an investigation by the FBI, who are experts in the art of the black bag job.  When Nixon ordered the 1972 break-in of the Watergate hotel, the President sought to exploit the masterly private file sabotage of J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI since 1924, who would surely have opened a private file on Judd.

In the short film Richard Nixon — Paranoia and Moral Panics, BBC monologue and mash-up journalist Adam Curtis demonstrates how the behaviors of power and pop culture have become “Nixonian.”  Nixon cursed big business, political rivals, and the media, while Woodward and Bernstein confirmed that black-gloved figures lurked in the dark, rabid for information.

The song “My Way” had been recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1969 and by Sid Vicious in 1978. The faiths of self-determination, veering between civil rights and neoconservatism,  convoked the 1980s and 1990s with self-actualization and less government, with Rambo and the Jedi myths of Star Wars.         

If Judd had pursued a Senate seat, instead of deciding to withdraw her candidacy, it would not have been an advantage for McConnell to “highlight her past struggles with depression and her religious views” in order to character assassinate.  Self-exalting misery inspires the voting individual.  Judd has written a memoir of overcoming childhood abuse, that she has three times been the victim of rape.  McConnell’s camp counsels that “she is emotionally unbalanced,” failing to realize that so is a majority of their target audience.  They seize on Judd’s “linkage to the Volunteer State….  I mean clearly she's a carpetbagger,” and guffaw at Judd’s “oddly syncretic approach to Christianity” when the Double Jeopardy actress cites St. Francis in expanding “my God concept… Brother Donkey, Sister Bird.”

America thrives on the mysticization of the cosmic common denominators in history.  McConnell is disadvantaged by his own Nixonian jingo as a University of Louisville basketball fan, which team won the NCAA this month.  The big win comes on the heels of last year’s champ, archrival University of Kentucky, who hailed a record 38-2 season.  But it was a rough year for the Wildcats.  They didn’t make the the tourney and fouled out early in the NEC. 

The U. of L. victory would have only cast McConnell as a gloater, while Ashley Judd surely would have expressed words of solace for Wildcats fans, and showed good form and non-carpetbagged hometown gumption by offering tacit support for the passing, ephemeral, and soon elegiac God Concept of the Cardinals’ victory.  Such cast of light, for a politician or a sports fan, is the perfect halo.

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2050 will reveal the true findings of the Mitch Sitch….  Meanwhile Judd directs a segment of the Lifetime network omnibus film Call Me Crazy, which explores female mental illness.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Good Research at the Movies

Double Jeopardy (1999) is a Hollywood thriller starring potential Kentucky Senate candidate Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones, two actors Future Use always finds it a joy and provocation to watch act.  The movie, like any good tinseltown popcorn-and-soda job, plays credibility like a card sharp, but its true merit is the juicy lesson the audience might learn in the ABCs of good research and resource-finding.

Judd plays an idle housewife with a brash rich husband and a fair young son, Matty, who she dotes on.  They live in a sleek house on jet-set Whidbey Island, a posh enclave north of Seattle, off Admiralty Bay.  Judd's only passion in life, besides the boy Matty, is sailing. 

The husband is a smarmy luxuriant, and buys Judd a treasured new sailboat.  But can they afford it?  She asks but doesn’t care.  Husband assures that he’ll find a way.   

Judd is hoodwinked.
They set sail for a romantic outing at sea, but after an evening of wine and thankful sex, Judd wakes in the middle of the night with her husband disappeared and blood all over the cabin.  Judd is framed for the husband’s murder and goes to prison.

Judd in the Big House.
She soon determines that she was the victim of a set-up, masterminded by the husband, who is still alive.  Judd makes friends in the joint with a convicted murderer and former lawyer, who counsels Judd that the law is on her side.

"You ever hear of double jeopardy?"
Since she has already been sentenced for the murder of her husband, Judd can now kill him for real, without the worry of prosecution.  “They can’t do anything… you ever heard of Double Jeopardy?”  Judd has not, and the prison hairnet lawyer explains, “You can walk right up to him in Times Square and put a gun to his head and pull the fucking trigger and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”   

Judd spends the rest of her time served working out, and fixating on both finding her son and murdering the husband.  

Soon Judd is somehow out on parole.

Tommy Lee Jones plays the hardnosed ex-law enforcement landlord of a parolee half-way house where Judd checks in, but later escapes to best serve her search.

Jones inspects Judd's undies and lady things.
Double Jeopardy was released a year before the dot-com bubble burst, when the e-commerce of data fusion was just as infant as Judd's son Matty in the movie.  DJ depicts the promising use of what seem today ancient computer devices, and how they can be used as ripe information sources, especially if you are searching for your con-man husband to kill him.

The scriptwriters are wise enough to have Judd begin her research at the best source of information in the known universe: the local library.  Fresh out of prison, she coerces a dorky dude patron taking note of her comely features to demonstrate how to use the library’s computer resources.

Judd sizes up the creep.

Judd is looking for her old girlfriend, who was in on the scam and took off with the husband and the kid. “Someone said I should try the internet…” says Judd.  The dork dude suggests “Library Link,” and asks, “Does your friend have email?”  Back then that was a viable question.

No email or zip code or SSN.  But she was a schoolteacher... so they check the Dept. of Education database, finding records on the State Teacher Certification Board.  Bingo! Judd finds the school address where the friend works.

Lib Link.

Judd does what any genealogist would do, and breaks into the school at night to rifle the files.  She obtains a Social Security Number, and is chased by cops over the dunes.

Judd runs across the beach.
With the SSN, Judd proceeds to a ripe and streetwise fount of personal information, a car dealership.  Pretending to be interested in a red BMW convertible, she has the balding car-hawker perform a credit check, thus obtaining a home address.

Judd visits the house, and finds out from a neighbor that the friend has since died when a gas leak blew up the house by accident.  The neighbor is the type of character often played as the source of dramatic information in Hollywood movies: the wise old lady gardening in a floppy hat. 

... Tending the library of local loam... Judd also visits her mother, similarly depicted in straw hat and floral gloves, digging in the tomato patch for a hidden stash of cash which mother gives to Judd.

Next, Judd visits the archives of the local newspaper.  She scans microfilm while the printing presses churn in the next room.  It would have been less noisy to just go back to the library for collections of old newspapers, but no matter.  She finds an obituary, always a keen source of good facts.

Since this is a movie, the text of the obituary yields nothing, until Judd inspects more closely the accompanying photo image.  The dead friend stands next to a Kandinsky painting, whose work the husband collected, a dabbling pretension of his phony slick-haired moderno-trash lifestyle.

Judd then heads to the art gallery and makes inquiries of the art dealer, a bowtied white-haired gent…

The art dealer is wired in.  He says, “Let’s check Art Scan,” which is a Microsoft Office database program that does not appear too dated for the years before GW was president.  Digital images aplenty with metadata listed for title, artist, dates, medium and price.    

The art dealer becomes distracted by a customer in the front room, who turns out to be Tommy Lee Jones, onto Judd's trail.  Judd evades Jones and sneaks a peak at the “provenance” function of a certain Kandinsky (a cover illustration for der Blaue Reiter Almanac... a grand but subtle nod to the old Almanac, always a favorable creative twist of right facts).

Behold the current address of the husband, who has assumed a new identity in New Orleans, a city of scotched information science, and where all fugitives go.

Ms. Ashley Judd traces a path well-tread by the news researcher or skip-tracer or reference librarian.  Only instead of clientage she employs sabotage, what J. Edgar Hoover called a “black bag job.”  Judd most resembles a genealogist, since she is out to track the whereabouts and whatabouts of family.

Does Judd find the son?  Does Jones find Judd? Does Judd do "Double Jeopardy?" Gotta watch the movie…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The iBg Apple

Future Use was en route to the job interview, waiting for the G train, when across the tracks on the opposite platform, a young man was mugged.  Three youths punched him, snatched his iPhone, and ran.  

“Owwwww!” cried the young man, in polo shirt, rolled jeans and flipflops.  It sounded like he had just tripped and scratched his knee.  And then he was surprisingly very practical, though surely shocked.  “Heyyyyy that’s mine…”

The guy was sitting on the bench when attacked, and another man sat next to him, who didn’t move, and I think too was listening to his iPhone.  

I had to be at the interview at 1PM and it was now 12:10—I know because I read the police blotter the following week in the Brooklyn Courier:

Ten minutes later, transferring to the A train, on the platform I noticed the coincidental warning poster:


There is a black market in digital informationdevices.  You buy one on Ebay, perhaps it was ripped off from someone in the midst of scrolling their Lana Del Rey playlist.  Numerous papers note the thefts are becoming a trend.  From the NY Daily News: 

"Deputy Inspector James Klein said outside the Apple store on Fifth Ave. and 58th St. iPhones and iPads have surpassed cash as the most commonly stolen property in the city... As of mid-August, 1,555 Apple products were reported stolen this year, compared to 1,386 at this point last year, police said."  

Last year the Brooklyn Courier called it “Apple picking.” 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Hey uh - you know where I can find..."

It is Search Week in New York City, a bonanza powwow of market researchers gathering at Jacob Javits Center for the Search Marketing Expo:

Market researchers all dressed up and abuzz for Search Week.
The declaration was made official by the Mayor, a prime advocate of business research, the industry in which he made his fortune.

SMX posted the Proclamation of "Search Week" to its website, bedecked with the aegis and seal of City Hall, almost seeming like an article from The Onion.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

News Research in the News

Last week news researchers were in full throttle hunting info on the identity of Sam Bacile, a/k/a Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a/k/a Erwin Salameh a/k/a Ahmed Hamdy a/k/a PJ Tobacco.  

This character made the movie which is said to have triggered the slew of deathly riots in the Arab World.  

It is a breaking story which calls forth the very purpose of the news researcher.  The people gotta know who the hell is this guy who nobody knows who he is.

Tax and bankruptcy records, State criminal records, databases of actors' resumes, and files at the L.A. hills ranch where Bacile paid to shoot the movie were checked.  Blue Cloud Ranch is where crews have also shot Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and episodes of primetime spy romp JAG.

Al Jazeera details the shady man’s past, as does Wired mag.

Bacile has been determined to have a history of manufacturing PCP in the 1990s and identity theft, for which he served over a year in jail.  Probation officers took him into custody last week for questioning over whether Bacile might have broke parole by using the Internet.  He has been connected to Coptic Christian groups, and to direct his movie is said to have hired jizzbucket reeler Alan Roberts, who also did The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood (1980) and Panorama Blue (1974).

Google has since decided to withdraw the trailer from online circulation in certain incendiary markets in the Middle East.  Is it Google’s decision to make or unmake available information?  In this case, they own YouTube, the largest moving image resource in the non-physical world.  “Broadcast Yourself…”  Withholding The Innocence of Muslims only confirms its presumed and fanaticizable danger.  Maybe some of the rioters haven’t seen it yet and wanna watch it.

It must be as is usual in the classic case of censorship, that many gatecrashers and bombthrowers in key Middle East cities haven’t spent the 14 minutes to actually screen the piece of crap.  Demagogues abound who do the awareness for their worshippers. “This video document is the source the problem!  Don’t watch it!” Soon explosions and murder result.

Future Use just re-watched the Oliver Stone archive mash-up spectacle flick JFK, where the character Mr. X, played by Donald Sutherland in shabby rainhat and topcoat, outlines the assassination of the President as the work of a seasoned secret U.S. military intelligence black-ops team who have been insinuating the downfall of foreign anti-democratic regimes since WWII.  In 1963, so Mr. X asserts, the “secret team” has decided that Kennedy’s policies will subvert American principles both home and abroad, and too many interests are involved who will be negatively affected.

One might suspect Mr. X at work in the case of the movie that set fire to the Middle East, no?  Are the rioters that clueless and rabid?  Is it so plausible that a grade Z clunker made in Santa Clarita using the greenscreen technology of 1980s music videos is the seed of such mass bloody stagings?

If Muslims are rioting over a licentious depiction of the Prophet, shouldn’t Christians be rioting over the recent fanfare that Jesus had a wife?  Read the intriguing scholarly Harvard paper here, which also involves the Copts…

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Unlimited MetroCard

A turn-of-the-century cartoon from Brooklyn Life, a local high society publication, which jibes the use of municipal space as a map of product placement:

Brooklyn Life, Brooklyn Historical Society.
Wonder what the blue pills are for...

In July, the Metropolitan Transit Authority launched a plan to put commercial advertising on the face of MetroCards.  The official announcement on the MTA website reads like a finding aid from a future archive which describes the vintage collection of these sloganeered items, "providing commercial advertisers with the unique opportunity to communicate with and motivate a massive commuter population."  What unborn researcher of 2012 NYC would not want to inspect them?  By that time, it may be that movie posters are scanned daily to fingernails.  Our primitive era would seem curious...

It isn't the first time the MTA has ushered such a program.  Says the NY Times, "the authority has sold space on the backs of cards intermittently since 1995, beginning with a campaign promoting an Anita Baker album. The most recent campaign came in February, when Domino’s Pizza advertised its $7.99 pies. The card was distributed only in Brooklyn."

... Anita Baker, such good tunes that hark to the sax-synth Rapture of New York in the 80s...

It might seem crass, given the lack of space in a city of 16 million eyeballs where an ad is not added.  But as the toon in Brooklyn Life demonstrates, it isn't a new issue.  Indeed the hoighty readership of Brooklyn Life were some of the benefactors of the ad blitz for blue pills.