AN UPDATE on the entry about certain U.S. American attitudes toward the French. Maybe it is good that they have decided to boycott "French" foods, since the U.S. American obesity rate is three times the French rate. Thirty percent versus ten percent (and it just hit ten percent). This according to Greg Crister in the New York Times, 5/18.
DID YOU catch Cornel West's cameo appearance in The Matrix Reloaded? It is heartening to see Dr. West remaking the model of the model scholar. He's had other recent cameos, sometimes without making an actual appearance. A recent episode of Law & Order (was it Criminal Intent? - this is a blog, no time for fact-checking!)featured as part of its mix-current-events-and-stir plot a black professor in a dispute with his department chair over the professor's release of a hip-hop record. Then there he was in person on the Chris Rock show.
Now he's in one of the year's biggest cinematic events. It's not that he's good at all of these things — it's that he is turning the ivory tower into a ranch house. He's giving people a reason, people who may not care and may actively refuse to care about the doings of a Ivy-League-professor-type a reason to care, maybe even a reason to go out and pick up a copy of Race Matters.
There is also a danger in this celebritizing of the intellectual, the emphasis on personal charisma at the expense of merits of ideas. But this danger is not a reason to not branch out, only a reason to be careful. From what I have seen of Dr. West, he is not really selling his ideas on his charisma. I recognized him in The Matrix Reloaded partially, after all, on the basis of the gap between his front teeth.
There is something different about his approach, something about the way he has constructed a scholarly reputation, then proceeded to show that he doesn't care much for many of the norms attached to the maintenance of such a reputation, while at the same time making himself visible to people who may then take interest in his scholarly reputation.
I haven't heard the CD he put out. The reviews I read of it were not great. Anyone heard it?
No time for review of the rest of the movie. Worth seeing on the big screen with the chest-compressing bass. Complaints: too heavy-handed on the philosophical dialogue, especially given its predecessor's emphasis on subtlety. Fight scenes too long and ridiculous in their one-sidedness. This complaint is also a little ridiculous. Computer animation at times in the slow-mo parts too obvious and bitmapped — if I wanted to see blocky Street Fighter faces, I'd go to the arcade and look over a fourteen-year-old's shoulder, if he'd let me.
There are positives too; but I already elaborated on those in the form of $8.50.
WE'VE LOST a number of great poets this last year. Ted Joans is the most recent. He died at age 74 on May 7. He was a fan of jazz and poetry and the potentials of combining the two. This is the topic I wrote my MFA thesis on, and I remember quoting a poem of his from the Jazz Poetry Anthology. Unfortunately, another poet I quoted from in that paper, June Jordan, also passed away during this past year.
Just wanted to mark Mr. Joans' passing and encourage folks to check out his work. I will be doing so myself.