Monday, January 18, 2010

BLINDSIDED BY THE TRUTH

I saw the movie "Blindside" last week. A pretty good movie, although sometimes corny and borderline didactic. Aside from its artistic merits, I found it interesting, even bold in the way it unabashedly bashes certain Hollywood cliches and nostrums. First of all, the movie takes a positive stance towards fundamentalist Christians. How often do you see that in movies or on television? Usually these people are portrayed as backward, close-minded, hate-filled lunatic yahoos who are bent on turning this country into a Christian theocracy. So called journalists on the mainstream networks like CNN don't think twice about comparing evangelical Christians to the Taliban, notwithstanding that the incidents of Christians strapping a bomb belts on and pushing the ignition button in a crowded restaurant numbers zero. You have to wonder if these people have ever met a fundamentalist Christian. There is no more sheltered, parochial group than New York/LA based journalists.

I grew up a Southern Baptist and know these people first hand. The portrayal in the movie is accurate. These people say grace at meals and have strict moral standards even when it comes to "cussing." A basic tenet of their faith is the requirement to help those in need. As extraordinary as it was that a white family in Memphis would take a black guy off the street and into their home, such an act is certainly not unbelievable if you understand how fundamental "outreach" is to fundamentalist Christians.

Leigh Anne Touhy, the Sandra Bullock character, is out of the Sarah Palin mold. She informs a thug lording over the project where Michael Oher lives that she is a proud member of the NRA and packs heat in her purse. The scene is far-fetched in more ways than one, but that has to be the first time ever a female character in a major motion picture proudly declared her membership in the NRA.

It's amazing that a movie like this ever got produced, given its political/religious undertones. Thank Phil Anshutz for that. A billionaire listed as number 6 on the Forbes 400, he also happens to be an arch conservative who has backed similar, culturally conservative movies such as "The Narnia Chronicles."

The move has also garnered a bit of controversy by the way it depicts race relations. Although the movie has been a huge box office success and has as its main character an African-American football star, word is that many blacks have shunned the movie. I can understand how they might find the movie patronizing in the way it shows a wealthy white family turning around the life of a hapless negro. I'm sure some blacks are turned off by the way the movie unstintingly depicts the chaotic, crime-ridden, mostly black inner city. The movie rises almost to preachiness in contrasting the stable family of the Tuohy's versus the fatherless, disintegrated families that inhabit the project where Michael Oher lives. The implicit message of the movie and the shining example of the Tuohy's is that the problems that Michael Oher and other children of the inner city face can not be laid at the feet of whites. There are plenty of blacks who would like to think that all whites are fundamentally racist and that a story like the one portrayed in "Blindside" is just a White American fantasy. There's only one problem with this attitude: "Blindside" is a true story.

"Blindside" is a unique movie in that it offers two things that usually don't go together: big box office numbers and a willingness to speak truths that a lot of people don't wish to hear.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

FAT CATS

Hi, this is Tricky Nicky Goreman wishing you all a Happy New Year. And what a freakin year 2009 was! Looking back over the year, I don’t know whether to cry or laugh. I was certainly crying the first half of the year and laughing the second half. This friggin stock market has been more schizophrenic than my cousin Lester, who lost his marbles at the age of 18 from doing too much acid and is now wandering the Upper West Side in enough used clothes to fill a yard sale. I bump into the slobbering idiot every once in awhile on the streets. I think he knows who I am. I always slip him some coinage and urge him to buy some deodorant.

Anyway, the year has ended well except for one discordant note: Some envious, righteously indignant pricks are making a big brouhaha over the fact that Wall Street bonuses hit a record this year. I mean shit, isn’t that something that we should all be celebrating? After all, the past couple of years have been kinda tough on ole Nick and those of his ilk. Check my March 08 2009 post if you need to refresh your memory about my travails. And wouldn’t you know it but right after I write that post, I landed a much coveted seat at Morgan Stanley’s Global High Net Worth Client Group, otherwise known as the Lollipop Guild since so many of those customers are true suckers. The timing was perfect because the stock market had just bottomed out. (Can you believe that the S&P bottomed at 666, Satan’s sign! So there must be a God…and a devil too). My career shot up with the market, like one huge ejaculation after a couple of blue ball years. I had the best year I’ve ever had and now some old ninny wants to raise hell because he thinks I'm overpaid.

Such spoil sports assert that if Morgan Stanley hadn't gotten taxpayer money, then it would have gone out of business and I wouldn't have a job. If not for the beneficence of the federal government, all of Wall Street would have been boarded up, or so these scolds like to claim. Even our prissy President got in the act, saying on Sixty Minutes that he didn't get elected President just so he could bail out a bunch of "Fat Cats."

Okay, Barry Obama, what do you think we should do with this big pile of loot? Give it to you and other greasy-hand politicians out of the goodness of our hearts? Gee, you've done such a great job blowing the trillions that you've already been handed. The last time I checked, all your sundry tax increases, when combined with New York City and State taxes, mean that chumps like me who are still dumb enough to live in this "liberal utopia" pay around 60% of our paychecks in taxes. The well is dry, Barry. There are only so many ways that you can fleece a cat, even a fat one.

Are we supposed to give this extra mula to Morgan Stanley shareholders in the form of a big dividend increase? I'm sure that would please you, Barry, since you are about to jack up the tax rate on dividends. But have you ever seen the typical Morgan Stanley shareholder? You won't find them among the downtrodden that you are always blubbering about.

Let me keep it, Barry. I earned it, I deserve it, and by God, I'll spend it! Don't you see, Mr. Pres, what a boost to the economy my conspicuous consumption gives? After the year that I've had, I'm ready to move up from leasing that Beamer M3 convertible to owning a Lamborghini. Okay, maybe that wasn't such a good example; let's say I'm in the market for a GM Volt instead. And believe me, there aren't many in the Walmart crowd who will be able to afford these overpriced "green machines" that you are forcing, I mean encouraging GM (Government Made) to produce. And who is going to keep Napa Valley going if not for wine snobs like me? Furthermore, I'll promise to cut off that overseas source who sends me boxes of Cuban cigars every Christmas and instead buy good ole American stogies from...well, I guess we don't make cigars here anymore. Who knows, maybe I'll switch to cigarettes and sacrifice my lungs for the good of the country.

Just think of all the "little people" my leveraged lifestyle takes care of: the maitre 'd's, the tailor at Paul Stuart, the high priced hookers. One day I might even do something really stupid like get married and have kids, and boy, will my spending really skyrocket! For sure I'll have to make the move to the 'burbs after that and will be in a position to keep an army of illegal gardeners and nannies around long enough for that day when you most certainly will give them amnesty and a road to citizenship. A brand new voting block for the Democratic Party!

So are we on the same page, singing the same song, Soul Man El Presidente? Help me help you. You scratch Wall Street's back and we'll scratch yours even harder. Don't forget that we gave a lot more campaign money to you than we did that cranky senior citizen and his MILF in the sleasy stewardess outfits. Just keep your hands off my fuckin dough. It's all I live for. Capice?