Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Top 16 Directors of All-Time

Werner Herzog only gets an honorable mention,
which should tell you something about what it takes to be the best.

Who needs a round number, right? Nerds? I ain't no nerd--I'm just an intelligent social outcast who never leaves his apartment and watches a lot of movies while everybody else goes out and talks to women. Wait...

Well, whatever--here we go, from oldest to youngest, cuz why not:

1. Charles Chaplin (April 16, 1889 - England)
Although I'm not a huge fan of his shorts, which are often tedious and self-indulgent (Kid Auto Races in Venice is one of the few that works to great effect, but he didn't direct it), Chaplin finally found his footing when he started writing, directing, producing, and starring in his own features (he also scored many of them and did craft service for a few...ha). The internationally-famous stumbling vaudeville Tramp was finally able to become a flesh-and-blood character with hopes and dreams, finally able to effectively comment on the ills and joys of Western society--with some pratfalls thrown in to boot. I thought about including Buster Keaton instead, since I find his physical comedy superior to that of Chaplin, but I think Chaplin's films have more meat. The Kid, The Idle Class, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator are my favorites.

2. Luis Bunuel (February 22, 1900 - Spain)
Aside from looking like a depraved serial killer, Luis Bunuel was also one hell of an artist, unafraid to weave biting sociopolitical commentary into his work. At once provocative, sexual, critical, philosophical, and visually stunning, Bunuel admirably seemed to make no concessions to censorship, to critical or commercial success, and simply made the movies he wanted to make. His frank portrayal of sexuality, desire, psychosis, and class conflict are as unique as a signature and still hold true to this day; there is absolutely nothing dated about his art. Bunuel lived the last 37 years of his life in Mexico, where he flourished as an artist, after wisely fleeing the Franco regime and dithering unhappily in Hollywood and New York for a spell. That Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Belle de Jour are my favorites and were, incidentally, all made between 1967 and 1977, while he lived in Mexico as an old man.

3. Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 - Poland)
Billy Wilder got his break thanks to Hollywood's onetime obsession with foreign filmmakers--many of whom fled the churning Nazi regime in Europe, including Ernst Lubitch, Erich von Stroheim, F.W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang--and he never looked back. He studied under Lubitsch for years before making the leap on his own. When he did, the world gained a charming, humorous, and impressively-efficient storyteller. I'm not a fan of Some Like It Hot, The Lost Weekend, or The Seven Year Itch, and some of his movies are pretty dated (Stalag 17, for example), but when this motherfucker was on, goddamn was he on. The Apartment gets my vote for best romantic comedy of all-time; Double Indemnity is probably the best noir of the era, buoyed by the brilliant (and unpopular with the brass) directorial move to cast Fred McMurray against type; and Sunset Boulevard is not only a breathtakingly-fantastic trip through the miasma of Hollywood, but also one of the three best movies ever made about L.A. (the others being Chinatown and The Long Goodbye, which are discussed below, of course). Not bad for a guy who could hardly speak a word of English when he started...

4. Michelangelo Antonioni (September 29, 1912 - Italy)
Ah, Antonioni. He is loathed by many an average moviegoer, but a breath of fresh air for a guy like me. Why? Chiefly, because he is unafraid to linger on the subtle details of life, unafraid to spend a near-eternity slyly informing you of the exact emotional condition of his characters. He is only a dinosaur in the sense that he was the master of a certain breed of movies that (almost) nobody makes anymore--the slow, rich, character piece. Which isn't to say that his movies are only about character--they are also almost documentary-like in their presentation of Italy in the 1960s-70s, which is no doubt a direct result of the fact that he began his career making well-received documentaries for Italian television. For example, L'Eclisse is hardly a movie about the stock market and, yet, in two long scenes it tells you more about the ins-and-outs of the business than the entire disappointing turd known as Wall Street. The best thing about Antonioni, though, is that he had a tendency to fall in love with a woman and then made a movie about a character she would play. This may, at first glance, seem self-indulgent or unwise, but if you think about the fact that some of the best paintings and sculptures in history, some of the best photographs and poetry, were crafted by an adoring lover, then I think it makes more sense. An adoring camera is forgiving, yes, but it is also probing. Also check out The Passenger, which was not only Jack Nicholson's favorite movie that he worked on (he even bought the rights to it and had it cleaned-up and re-released, thank god), but also the only movie I've ever seen that unabashedly glorifies Barcelona's magnificent architect-savant, Gaudi, the Marcello Mastroianni gem La Notte about the decay of a relationship, and Red Desert, when it finally comes out on Criterion DVD on June 22. Blow Up was his biggest hit, but I'm not the biggest fan; despite Monica Vitti's unsurpassing beauty and my admiration for the revolutionary form of the movie, I found L'Avventura boring on my first go-round; and while I think Zabriskie Point ultimately misses its own point, it undoubtedly has the best ending of any movie I've ever seen.

5. Pietro Germi (September 14, 1914 - Italy)
In my book, anybody who can make a fast-paced, rich character-piece about the dark side of human nature--and make it devilishly funny--deserves a place in history, and nobody has done it better than Pietro Germi. Seriously--nobody has even come close. Divorce Italian Style and Seduced and Abandoned are two of my favorite movies of all time, both dark comedies centered on a peculiar Italian law that allows lenience for murder if the perpetrator catches his/her lover in the act with a third party. Yes, that is yet another wonderful result of strict Catholicism. I have yet to see the third in the trilogy (The Birds, the Bees, and the Italians), as it is currently unavailable on DVD, but I can't wait.

6. Ingmar Bergman (July 14, 1918 - Sweden)
Bergman is a lion of the cinema, worshiped outright by luminaries like Woody Allen and Goodtime Charlie. He was Scandinavian and that is somehow relevant, as his work seems chiseled out of the very rock of the unforgiving North, appropriately bleak, black and white in more ways than one, and grandiose in theme. Life v. Death, Sex v. Chastity, Youth v. Old Age, etc. I find some of his work a bit dated, or perhaps a bit too stark, but, much like Billy Wilder, when he was clicking on all cylinders it is difficult to find an equal. Fanny & Alexander is a lush tapestry depicting the fascinating highs and lows of a textbook aristocratic family. Scenes From a Marriage is perhaps depressing, but, more importantly, it is riveting in its subtlety, its detail, its honesty. Of his earlier work, The Virgin Spring is easily my favorite, and Wild Strawberries is also worth watching for its exploration of unfulfilled sexual desire, if ultimately not up to par. It may be film-geek heresy, but I'm not a fan of either The Seventh Seal or Persona. They may have been important moments in cinematic history and/or philosophical milestones--and I respect them for that, sure--but I found them dreadfully boring and would never recommend them to anybody.

7. Eric Rohmer (March 20, 1920 - France)
I've already written quite a bit about Rohmer, so I'll be brief, but he is without question the dark-horse on this list. He is not very popular, even among film aficionados. I have a love for him that I find difficult to put into words, because I have trouble figuring out why exactly I enjoy his movies so much when I can also recognize how boring they are. I guess the only way to say it succinctly is that he paints a pretty picture--from the perfect location to the perfect casting to the perfect wardrobe to the perfect props to the perfectly timeless themes of unfulfilled sexual desire and the potential for intellect to impede the search for pleasure. For better or worse, there is nothing quite like an Eric Rohmer movie, especially if you enjoy armchair psychology. My favorites are: La Collectionneuse, Claire's Knee, and Pauline at the Beach. They are well-worth checking out and should be required viewing for anybody who considers themselves a movie buff.

8. Robert Altman (February 20, 1925 - United States)
Robert Altman is a polarizing figure even within my own brain. He is a bit of a showboat, he is unforgivingly self-indulgent, he is sometimes way off the mark. More importantly, however, he sometimes hit the bulls-eye with a fucking explosion of brilliance. He was clearly an admirer of the tenets of the 1960s/70s counterculture and whether or not it was mere fascination or avid participation is irrelevant--the fact of the matter is that few American artists plumbed the depths of the vaunted American dream as fearlessly as Altman did. Nashville was an almost, in my mind--a bit too indulgent of the '60s culture without much of a focus. Gosford Park was a misguided attempt at pretending to be Jean Renoir and Thomas Vinterberg did that better. McCabe and Mrs Miller, however, was his masterstroke--a snowy Western about the failure of the American dream in the face of the almighty corporation that seems oddly prognostic in this day and age. The Long Goodbye is easily my favorite noir of all-time and devilishly funny to boot, one of maybe a handful of movies that I wished I directed, and, as mentioned above, one of the top three movies ever made about L.A. The Player was a fascinating take on the Hollywood culture that Altman clearly despised, by an artist who knows exactly why he is wise to despise it and exactly how best to portray that disgust. M*A*S*H was also great, carried much more weight than the TV series of the same name and was even funnier, but enough about Altman--just watch the movies and enjoy them.

9. Mike Nichols (November 6, 1931 - Germany)
Mike Nichols came from the theater. He was a comedian, writer, performer, the male half of Nichols & May. He was a hugely successful playwright and stage director. These facts are important when you consider his work as a filmmaker because most of his movies perfectly exemplify what I like to refer to as 'filmed theater.' This is usually a bad thing, evidence of somebody out of their element, but with Nichols it works, since he knew what he was doing. One example of this is my second-favorite movie of his--Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The script was initially a play, but he called his friend who wrote it and told him he would rather do it as a movie. Why? In a (hyphenated) word--close-ups. He was no neophyte, and he knew that certain stories work well on the stage and certain stories benefit from close-ups, editing, precise lighting, etc. Aside from the close-ups, however, the movie unfolds exactly as if you were watching a fantastic play from the best seats in the house, using only a handful of set-pieces at most. My favorite of his movies is Carnal Knowledge, a little-known gem starring Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel as college roommates who both fall in love with a young Candice Bergen. The movie follows them, in fits and spurts, all the way into old age, when the differing proclivities on display as young men really come home to roost. The Graduate, the surprisingly-good Catch-22, and The Birdcage are also required viewing. Interesting fact from imdb: "[Nichols] was interested to direct First Blood (1982) with Dustin Hoffman as John Rambo." Puff on your pipe for a minute and think about what that movie would have been like--especially in the hands of this bird...

10. Louis Malle (October 30, 1932 - France)
I have yet to see most of his movies, but the three I have seen thus far already rank him among the best. I have yet to see it, sadly, but he cut his teeth on the greatest aquatic documentary of all-time for chrissake (The Silent World, with Jacques Cousteau, clearly the inspiration for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, duh) and went from there to deftly explore the highs and lows of the tortured terrestrial existence. Murmur of the Heart is like a 1960s French version of American Pie, but tells the age-old story of a kid trying to get laid with so much more patience, so much more ambivalence, so much more understanding, so much more beauty. My Dinner with Andre started out as an actual dinner conversation and Malle somehow turned that into a riveting cinematic exploration of the human condition, with the perfect dose of wry humor and contemplative narration. The Fire Within is a dark meditation on depression, suicide, and interpersonal relationships that manages to avoid choosing sides by patiently demonstrating the foolishness, vanity, cruelty, and triviality in the lives of every character who tries to help the shattered hero choose life. For the first time in a while, I eagerly look forward to my next four Netflix movies--Atlantic City, Pretty Baby, Elevator to the Gallows, and Au Revoir Les Enfants.

11. Roman Polanski (August 18, 1933 - France)
Polanski was brilliant from the starting line and his much-overlooked early work is supremely satisfying. His stark 1962 thriller Knife in the Water immediately put him on the international map, and deservedly so, even if something about the opening fifteen minutes or so did remind me quite a bit of Juan Bardem's equally-brilliant Death of a Cyclist. Repulsion wasn't the best movie by a long shot, but it is one of the few movies I have ever seen that unflinchingly mines, for all it's worth, the fertile depths of the inevitable mind-fuck beautiful women face every day. Rosemary's Baby is one of the only horror movies that actually scares the shit out of me--still. Chinatown is his masterpiece, of course, the definitive depiction of Los Angeles as the twisted end-result of a century of unbridled American expansion, although he definitely must share credit for that gem with legendary screenwriter Robert Towne, as it was his baby from the get-go. [I feel the need here to pressure you to read Mike Davis' City of Quartz, as it is a far more exhaustive exploration of the same theme and the kind of book that fills in so many gaps of the whys and wherefores of modern-day America that it should be required reading in college, if it can be a bit dry at times -Ed.]. How good is Roman Polanski? He can make a cardboard American whodunit--starring Harrison Ford no less--and make it really good, as he did with the thoroughly-entertaining Frantic. My favorite movie of his, however, happens to not only be his most obscure, but also one in which he is the lead actor in an intense character study, playing exactly the sort of role that wins an Oscar. The movie is called The Tenant and I saw it completely by accident one night maybe five years ago; needless to say, I was totally unprepared to have my mind blown, but it was anyway. If you rent any movie I mentioned here today, rent this one, pop some popcorn, and prepare to delve into the mind of a fascinating fucking lunatic.

12. Woody Allen (December 1, 1935 - United States)
I could write a really boring, rambling novel about how much I love Woody Allen but it would be pointless because I don't think anybody would disagree. He is an American institution--so much so, in fact, that he has had to move production to foreign soil of late--and so prolific that a friend of mine had to write an atlas to navigate the seemingly-endless product of his lengthy career. Nobody explores the neuroses of an overly-educated, weak-in-the-knees, brain-over-brawn modern man quite like Woody. The reason that nobody can play Woody Allen but Woody Allen (although that didn't stop Jason Biggs from trying, of all people) is because although his character is always relatable in some way, he is ultimately so unpredictable and unique that nobody else can capture his complete essence. Comedy, drama, dramedy, comama, you name it--Woody has navigated the waters like a pro and made you laugh at him and yourself along the way. He may have married his step-daughter and made Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but if there is one man I would forgive those sins, it is Woody Allen (let's not forget that Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin, after all, if we're comparing celebrity depravity). Besides, they are still happily married after all these years and that's gotta mean something...alright, yeah, it's still sick, but whatever, we need to move past that...

13. Martin Scorsese (November 17, 1942 - United States)
It is no great surprise to anybody who has ever watched a Scorsese movie with a discerning eye that he is one of the world's foremost film scholars. He can take an ugly story, an ugly character, and make it sing through his deft technique, his compassion, his curiosity. He knows exactly where to put the camera, exactly when to let his actors run wild...would anybody on a film set ever question this man? I don't think so. Taxi Driver blew a fucking whole through the movie screen and made a decades-long superstar out of Robert DeNiro, despite the fact that he seems to be, in real life, a one-dimensional, self-centered, immature idiot. How's that for talent? Raging Bull, ditto. When I was a kid, I remember when Siskel & Ebert both voted it the best movie of the 1980s--they almost never agreed!--and I couldn't believe it was even from the '80s, since it was (wisely) shot in black & white. Once I finally saw it, many years later, I completely agreed with them. Goodfellas? Shit...the scene where Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco enter the Copacabana through the kitchen could practically win Best Picture on its own; the rest is just gravy. That being said, and with all due respect, I think this guy needs to stop making movies before he tarnishes his own legacy. Aside from The Departed, which was interesting, this guy hasn't made a good movie since Casino in 1995. The 'Italian-American humanized gangster' genre, if I can call it that, has had its day--and what a day it was--and he just seems desperate when he tries his hand at a different genre, although I know there are fans who would vehemently disagree. Essentially, it seems as though he is trying too hard to be loved and it depresses me (his 'performance' in Shine A Light was particularly embarrassing). We'll see how this Sinatra card plays out, but I'm mostly cringing at the thought of this old guy who doesn't realize he should rest on his laurels trying to revisit his glory days on the national stage.

14. Rainer Werner Fassbinder (May 31, 1945 - Germany)
I can't believe Fassbinder comes up so late in the game here, that he was born after all these other artists that were plugging away til quite recently, which is probably because he was a workaholic drug addict who died at 37. His wikipedia entry is a required read, by the way (we'll still be here when you get back). This tortured soul directed 40 movies in a mere 16 years, all the while also writing/directing/producing plays for his theater company, Anti-Theater, and crafting the 15.5-hr miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz. You can see why the guy did a lot of drugs--he evidently had a lot to get off his chest, out of his mind. I have not seen all of his movies, but I have certainly seen a lot. Much like Eric Rohmer, I find myself a bit at a loss for words when trying to describe why I love him so much, but I guess it all boils down to his fearlessness. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't, but there was no subject, no character, no emotion, that escaped Fassbinder's probing mind. For example, he is--still--one of the only artists in the entire world, much less from Germany, who has explored the tortured psyche of the German citizen both during the Weimar years and post-WWII. He was the first to admit the great debt he owed to the melodrama of Douglas Sirk, but as much as I enjoy Sirk, Fassbinder blew him right out of the water. Where Sirk was full of innuendo and sidesteps and brilliant color, Fassbinder was the black & white sonuvabitch who slapped you right across the face with a dildo. His entire BRD Trilogy is worth a watch, but my favorite is The Marriage of Maria Braun because it is a fascinating, emotional rollercoaster that unflinchingly illustrates what life was like for the innocent German majority during and after WWII. Martha was surprisingly good and one of the most moving of all his movies, a raw yet comical portrayal of what life might be like for a privileged only child of warring parents devoid of love. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is the movie that the disappointing Harold and Maude should have been, with the added bonus of the race card thrown into post-Nazi Germany of all places, and is also one of the most vivid, realistic love stories that I have ever seen on screen, although it (of course?) ends in disappointment. Although it is not of the same caliber as his best work, I have a soft spot for An American Soldier, since I think it is a hilariously foreign portrayal of what a bad-ass American was like back then. The scene where the soldier picks up a prostitute and then throws her from a moving car is fucking incredible. As for Berlin Alexanderplatz, Fassbinder's masterwork, it will test your patience. I am a huge fan of his and I found large portions of it nearly unbearable; that being said, there is an (at least) equal amount that is profoundly introspective, heart-breaking, and brilliant. If you would like to see it someday, I suggest building up to it with the other movies I mentioned.

15. The Coen Bros (Joel: Nov.29, 1954 - Ethan: Sep.21, 1957 - United States)
The Coens are impressive in part because they seem to be equally deft at drama and comedy, character and story, which are no small feats. It may have annoyingly become a tartan of sorts for a certain kind of person who just likes to get drunk and go bowling, and it is certainly over-quoted by douchebags across this great nation on a daily basis, but make no mistake--The Big Lebowski is not only one of the best comedies made during my lifetime, but also one of the best character studies of all-time. The Coens may cringe to hear this, but it may go down in history as their masterwork. Which isn't to say that Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Barton Fink, and Miller Crossing weren't also good, but, you know, The Dude is hard to top. Of those I just mentioned, Fargo is my favorite; No Country is #2 and the others, pretty good but not really my speed. The bottom line, however, is that even their worst movies are still good (A Serious Man, Burn After Reading, and Blood Simple, for example), which I cannot say about many of the directors on this list.

16. Paul Thomas Anderson (June 26, 1970 - United States)
I recently read that Mark Wahlberg was considering taking a role in The Boondock Saints, but--THANK GOD--chose Boogie Nights instead, after receiving promises from P.T. that he was not getting the role because of his abs. Can you imagine how dead Wahlberg's movie career would be had he chosen otherwise? How little anybody would care about that former Calvin Klein underwear model who can't really act that well? Boogie Nights made Marky Mark human, Boogie Nights made us care. Boogie Nights also indirectly, and unfortunately, resulted in the eternally-annoying Entourage, but I digress. The point is that if P.T. Anderson had died in a plane crash immediately after completing Boogie Nights, he would still have made this list; the movie is that good. It takes a master to create an edge-of-your seat sympathetic biography of a brainless-but-sweet/horse-cocked porn star in '70s Los Angeles, to successfully portray a porn director as a father figure, to perfectly explore the highs and lows of a life lived on the edge, all the while getting everything just the right shade of Seventies and letting fantastic supporting characters chew up the screen every chance they get. Add to that the fact that he also turned Adam Sandler into a real actor with the generally-ignored but great Punch-Drunk Love and you must be even more impressed with his abilities. But wait! He not only wove a tapestry of depressing L.A. stories into the good-but-maybe-a-little-bit-too-depressing-and-long Magnolia (which also featured the eminently-despicable Tom Cruise in his best role/performance ever, which is no surprise in these hands) by tying them all together with a deluge of frogs, but he also wrote and directed the role that even the legendary Daniel Day Lewis--whose performance in My Left Foot alone would get him acting jobs for the rest of his life no matter what--will never be able to escape from, in yet another epic about profit-hungry corporations ravaging California, There Will Be Blood. How is it even possible to ruin a delicious chameleon like Daniel Day Lewis? How? I don't know, but for the rest of his life, despite every other role he performs brilliantly, DDL will always be Daniel Plainview and he will always get the "I drink your milkshake" bullshit, until he hangs himself in his barn.

Well, here we are. We're done, finished, kaput. It's sad that most of these dudes are either dead or will be dead before they direct another good movie. I guess the future of cinema--in the near future, anyway--is up to P.T and the Coens? [Good name for a band, btw -Ed.]

Not that they are incapable hands, but I wish there were more of them, I wish there were more talented writer/directors able to delicately balance the artistic and commercial, I wish there was more demand for the work they created (No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood have got to be two of the lowest grossing Best Picture nominees, and don't even get me started on the fate of The Assassination of Jesse James...).

Maybe I need to finally get out there and pull a Rohmer/Truffaut, come out from behind my critical desk and get behind the camera. Anybody in the market for a slow-paced, 1970s-style character piece with no love interest, that is light on story and heavy on detail?

Have your people call my people and we'll split a bagel or something, maybe even splurge for a small coffee, get things in motion, you know the deal...

[Note: It's interesting enough to point out that among those listed above are: a homosexual drug addict (Fassbinder), a horny intellectual voyeur (Rohmer), an admitted drug user and child-fucker (Polanski), a guy who married his adopted-daughter (Allen), and a guy with a penchant for getting his teenaged co-stars pregnant and marrying them in Mexico (Chaplin). What does that say about what it takes to make it in this business, or what this business does to you after you do? A story for another time, I suppose... -Ed.]


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thought of the Day

Karaoke would be so much more enjoyable if all those people who love karaoke were never allowed to sing.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Men Will Do Anything to Justify Finding Skinny Women Sexy

A group of Dutch scientists recently decided to further probe the fertile scientific mystery of why men prefer to have sex with skinny women, a conundrum that has plagued many of the finest minds in the Western World, as well as most fat women, for millenia.

The pioneering research in the field, which I read about years ago but have been unable to find online, discovered that even men on a remote island who had never seen a copy of Vogue or watched TV found skinny women sexier than larger women--despite the fact that this culture actually prized fat women, as in the Rubenesque heyday for lazy women.

The landmark discovery--that men of all cultures prefer a woman with a waist 70% the size of her hips--was no doubt praised by the avant garde fashion industry, as it boldly refuted the accepted notion that unrealistic images in the media have unfairly shaped sex appeal in the modern age.

7/10 is the biological magic number. Huh. I guess it isn't that unlikely that everything follows a formula, as much as we humans would like to believe we are above the trappings of our biological directives.

Enter the enterprising Dutch rogues, who for some reason decided to outfit a van with two womannequins of different waist-hip ratios (70% and 85%) and drive it around, asking random men to step inside and, in some cases, blindfold themselves, in order to see which inanimate object they would prefer to have sex with. The three categories of test subjects were: blind men, sighted men, and sighted men wearing blindfolds.

Which begs the question--who gets in a stranger's van and blindfolds themselves, much less to grope a womannequin in a "tight-fitting dress?"

You might as well call the soon-to-be-published research paper "Future Victims of Serial Killers Also Prefer Women with a Waist/Hip Ratio of 70%."

Re-posted from USA Today, of all places:
"The blind participants were instructed to feel and touch the waists and hips of the two female mannequin dolls," says the new study. "The experimenter asked them to rate the attractiveness of the body." Then they repeated the effort with sighted men, both the blindfolded and non-blindfolded, recruited by parking the van at a shopping center and asking for volunteers. Honest.
So, you see--it's totally okay for the media to continue promoting skinny women with perfectly-engineered breasts, since men literally cannot help but lust after them. I mean, science is on our side--it's pure biology! It's not our fault! Honest!


Chuck Berry's Ghost Must Be Stoked

Ditto for those of Louis Armstrong and Blind Willie Johnson (no relation to Jack White's hero, Blind Willie McTell, who evidently did not try hard enough in life).

Why are these three specters so totally pumped, prancing around the shadowy netherworld like king shits in the outhouse?

Because they each have a song on a 12-track gold-plated copper record aboard both Voyager 1 & 2, which were launched in 1977, passed Pluto in 1990, and won't encounter another planetary system for approximately 40,000 years.

One side of the record in question

The other songs were either classical--interestingly, Bach got 3 tracks, Beethoven 2, and Mozart only 1--or tribal, which isn't surprising.

For the full track listing, please visit the fantastic Lapham's Quarterly.

This oddball mixtape could merely be a reflection of the musical tastes of Carl Sagan, who chaired the selection committee, or it could be the result of a powerful equation devised by the Brains Trust to scientifically weed out the most representative music ever recorded on planet Earth, which would be great to get my hands on, in case I am ever called upon to update the mixtape by factoring in the music of the last 33 years, or in case I just want to play around with it when I'm bored.

Either way, questions inevitably spring to mind:
1. Why no Rolling Stones, Beatles, Fats Domino, or Elton John?

2. Was Roy Orbison, aka The Big O, [a fascinating wikipedia entry, btw -Ed.] pissed at being snubbed? Something tells me he was, and that, as was his wont, he blamed the success of Pretty Woman for it.

3. Why send only one record? Was cargo room really that tight?

4. Couldn't it have been a double-LP gatefold, with some beautiful Richard Avedon photographs on the cover?

5. Shouldn't they have consulted me on this before I was born?
If anybody knows where Carl Sagan's ghost hangs out, I'd love to accost him and get some answers. So, you know, let me know...

[Note: Chuck Berry is supposedly still alive, aged 83, but I see no reason to alter an otherwise adequate blog entry... -Ed.]


Just Wanted to Freak You Out

This came from here, and it is worth the scroll down...


All You Need to Know About Detroit

Detroit: Choose your plot--$1 each, no more than 14/person, please.

As promised:

Besides the tax incentives, Michigan has several traits that make it attractive to the film industry. Unlike Louisiana or New Mexico, which are also film hot spots, Michigan has four marked seasons. It has more than 3,000 miles of coastline along the Great Lakes, bodies of water so big their horizons are as empty as an ocean's. There are lots of charming old towns with charming old buildings, several universities and plenty of out-of-work autoworkers itching to do something with their hands, such as build sets, operate lighting systems or learn makeup artistry.

Even Michigan's economic malaise has an upside for Hollywood: Those empty, abandoned streets in Detroit are perfect for moviemakers, who can close off entire blocks for weeks without worrying about disrupting the city's flow. The Irishman, a movie due next year starring Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken, was shot in several neighborhoods of Detroit and barely interrupted city life, even when explosives were set off.

"Detroit is a fantastic resource," says Larry August, director and managing partner of Avalon Films, which has done mostly auto commercials in the past. "You have a city that was built for 1.8 million or 2 million people, and it has a lot fewer people than that (912,000 now, the Census Bureau estimates). That's the definition of a back lot. It's gritty, it's urban, and it's a very film-friendly city."

There's even a barely used high school west of Detroit in Howell, Mich., which has stood empty since 2003 because the town can't afford to operate two high schools. It's been the backdrop for at least one movie and is the location now for a pilot being shot for a sitcom for tweens.

(courtesy USA Today)

You had me at "tweens."

You also had me at "Val Kilmer" and "definition of a back-lot."

Whoo! HAGS! lol...


U.S. Government Boldly Decides to Tax Jobs White People Don't Do Anymore

This just in:
In the scramble to find something, anything, to generate more revenue, states are considering new taxes on virtually everything: garbage pickup, dating services, bowling night, haircuts, even clowns.

“It’s hard enough doing what we do,” grumbled John Luke, a plumber in the Philadelphia suburbs. His services would, for the first time, come with an added tax if the governor has his way.

“Look, I’m not a crazy tax guy,” Mr. Rendell said, reflecting on recent trims to the budget. “I know what we’ve cut the last two years, and I know how deep and painful the cuts have been. So I know that in the future there’s going to have to be a revenue increase, and this is the best of the alternatives, obviously none of which we’re happy about.”

Michigan’s revenues, adjusted for inflation, have sunk to a level last seen in the 1960s. And that may be exactly what at long last pushes through wide acceptance for taxes on more services, according to supporters of the idea, who say it makes sense in an economy that has long been service-based. In the past, such taxes have never quite been able to survive the political tussle.

To what is the world coming?

Of course politicians would rather tax the working stiffs than the corporate stiffs. I didn't hear any suggestion that Michigan should repeal the excessively generous entertainment-industry tax credit, for example, because it creates jobs! But they will tax the people who take those jobs, as well as the barbers and line cooks that service those workers.

Ah, trickle right down my ass, I say.

Working stiffs may seem to have strength in numbers, but too many of us would switch allegiance for a few shekels--hence the imbalanced power of the uber-rich.

We all know The Rich are little more than the pride-and-joy descendants of Roman Senator types--rich enough to have private armies, smart enough to cloak them in corporate legitimacy, inbred enough to be ugly.

They are constantly pacing their sun-drenched downtown offices, plotting the future, playing puppeteer in Warshington, London, Tokyo, Beijing--when they aren't snorting coke off the ass of a $5000/hr call girl in a suite they keep at the St. Regis to help alleviate such cravings.

But what are we doing about it?

We are presenting the rump and pretending we're okay with it.

Are we?


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Try to Make It Real Compared to What?

I watched Louis Malle's My Dinner With Andre this evening and it of course sent my mind running around its hamster cage at full tilt, leaving me unfit for slumber despite a tiresome day.

And so here I am.

For those of you who have not seen it, the movie is little more than a (monumental) dinner conversation between a struggling playwright (Wallace Shaun) and a wealthy theater director / mystical wanderer (Andre).

If you have seen Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, then just imagine Alan Alda's character as a parody of Andre, although I use that word loosely, since they are both pretty hysterical. I laughed out loud tonight louder than I have at any comedy I can remember, although it was not a comedy. [Note: Bob Odenkirk's interesting Melvin Goes to Dinner also owes a great debt to Andre -Ed.]

Andre is one of those fascinating, might-be-on-to-something, faux-humble, name-dropping emotional yo-yos who seem always to be weeping or getting naked in the woods with strangers, who inevitably mentions how he recently had a total breakdown and realized he was little more than a mindless one-dimensional robot when he was wandering around a desert in Africa for months with four toothless gypsies who subsisted on nothing but sand--because they wished it to be so--and then, in the next breath, tells a long-winded, riveting, story about how everything you are doing is wrong because when he rolled around in the grass in Tibet, imaginary monkeys kissed his nose and whispered a nonsense word and then 6 months later that word showed up as a drawing in a book he was reading to his child in Japanese--since he and his wife are trying to teach their kids Japanese, since a renowned physicist who gave up everything to become a brain-dead psychic once told him they are the future--and the funny thing is, the Tibetan language and Japanese couldn't be farther apart, so the character was probably just a meaningless squiggle to the author, but don't you see how it's all connected?

Wallace Shaun is, appropriately, very much the opposite, in term of temperament and opportunity. He is a struggling artist from working-class NY stock, a short, balding, unattractive man who takes pride in crossing meaningless errands off a list, believes there is still a chance for art to be profound, and who only asks that he not find a roach in his coffee mug when he gets up in the morning.

On the intellectual level, Wallace understands all of Andre's soul-searching, emotional journeys, even agrees with him on most of his criticisms of day-to-day life in the Western world, yet he cannot picture his world any other way, has no regard for the vague primal emotions that seem to occasionally rule Andre's tenuous existence, and actually takes pleasure in many of the things Andre despises.

I won't give too much away, yeah right, but one of the most interesting theories mentioned in the movie is that New York City (or any city, really) is actually some sort of 'perfect' prison, built by its inmates--who are schizophrenically also their own guards--who are too proud of their construction to ever leave it. Instead, they mill around giving themselves pointless-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things tasks, meaningless concerns to occupy their minds, trivial reasons for continuing to live there.

Yet, if they escaped, where would they go? To the woods? Would they dance around a fire all night and sleep during the day, making love atop wildflowers? Would they hold a flute in the wind and listen to the beautiful song forever? How long would that peace last until a new prison was built? Is it our nature to build prisons?

Who knows.

But I do know this--the first record I put on after watching the movie was Les McCann and Eddie Harris' Swiss Movement (recorded live at the Montreaux Jazz Fest in 1969; a gem).

Wouldn't you know it, the main refrain on the very first track--my all-time favorite jazz song, if you're keeping track--is "Try to make it real compared to what?"

The song was somehow intended as a critique of the Vietnam War, although I don't fully understand how and I wonder if that was just a cover story for the reality that it was, in actuality, a secret message sent to me from the future, since people/beings in the future would of course know I was watching My Dinner With Andre tonight (today being "Charlie Watched My Dinner With Andre Tonight" Day in the years 2041 and beyond).
If this is the case, I think the future is pretty cool for three reasons:

1. They can send messages through time

2. They have the patience to wait for those messages to be delivered 41 years after they were sent

3. They've not only got it all figured out, but can boil it down to an efficient eight-word sentence.
While we're making lists, I think the future is totally uncool for one reason:
1. The futuristic beings can do all those amazing things and, yet, they haven't found a way to make everything perfect for me. there a lesson here?

Reality is what stares back at you in the mirror, what you see out your window, that mysterious smell in your closet. It is the only plane of existence of any importance and you can't hide from it in the woods, in a narcotic haze, by running away, by reinventing yourself. The human brain is too powerful, perhaps too powerful, imagination its Achilles heel.

People are the way they are. Twenty people running off into the woods with grandiose dreams will always wind up with a microcosm of New York, a governing body as petty as Congress, the same personal problems catching up with them.

There are too many variables at play in the world, too many ingrained biological/social/cultural traits to think you can escape from them by disengaging your brain. Reality must be dealt with at face value--get your kicks when you can, sure, but don't be so arrogant as to think that your lingering discomfort and fear won't follow you everywhere.

Death always finds a way.

Or something like that. Hey--thanks for picking up the check, by the way.


Friday, March 26, 2010

What Does Bristol Palin Spend $1750/Month On?

So, let me get this straight:

Bristol Palin knowingly violates the moral code of her church and state by drinking underage and having pre-marital sex, gets pregnant, has the baby mostly so that her mom can't be held politically responsible for presiding over an abortion, won't let the father be a part of their life, and is then rewarded by the courts with $1750 every month out of his pocket, as she cavorts around the country with her millionaire-celebrity mom, making six figures as a spokeswoman and actress?

I'm hardly a fan of Levi Johnston, since I could give a shit what that guy is up to, but it seems ridiculous that he needs to pay her any money, much less a sum that princely. She shut him out of her life! She lives with her parents! She doesn't even need to pay rent! She's on her mom's health-care plan!

Also, keep in mind that she lives in Alaska, where the cost of living is hardly at Manhattan levels and every resident receives money from the state ($1000-4000/year) in exchange for allowing oil companies to mercilessly rape the pristine wilderness.

Wouldn't $500/month for food, diapers, and booze be enough?

Which begs the question: What does Bristol Palin spend all that money on, since we know she is not smart enough to save any of it for the future?

Here are a few educated guesses:
1. Daily mani/pedis at the most expensive salon in town, so she can catch up on all the latest gossip and look like at least $100

2. Discreet male escorts to meet her increasingly-depraved sexual needs, but only once a week (date night!!), since that asshole Levi has her on such a strict budget

3. Lobster pudding by the case, since her baby deserves to be spoiled

4. Rose petals, ball-gags, and travel expenses for her two enslaved high-school nemeses, in order for them to be able to spread flowers in her path wherever she may go

5. Installment payments on a boob job, to improve her chances for a post-whatever-this-is acting career
I mean, whatever, right? Why not? Are you saying you know how to live her life better than she does? What would YOU spend it on? Socialism? Death panels? Killing adorable babies?

You make me sick...


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care and the Assholes Who Hate America

I'm not entirely sure why I've waited so long to weigh-in on the health care issue, but I have.

I think my reluctance is partially due to the fact that I believed nothing save disappointment would come of it. Lofty goals dragged through the mud by greedy politicians on both sides of the aisle, etcetera.

Yes, un/fortunately, I've gotten to the point in my life where I have read enough books, read enough newspapers, known enough people, lived in the world as a man with my eyes and ears open, and been burned too many times before.

In short, I have become far too jaded for a man of my years and the zaniness of the health care debate just made me sick and tired of it all, made me want to withdraw even farther from the world outside my window, lest I get to the point where I do something so crazy it would work, like recruiting a willing prostitute and paying her to fuck her way through Congress, as I strangle every sonuvabitch post-coitus and we all start over.

Many people in this country with the best of intentions have railed against Obama. I'm not talking about the Teabaggers here, or your typical corporate-lackey Republican dickbags. I'm talking about everyday Americans, many of whom are Democrats, many of whom who voted for Obama. They have mostly spoken out in private, like my accountant's wife did the other day, but others have stepped out in public with their critique.

What are they angry about? That Obama is spending too much time dealing with the health care situation and not enough time creating jobs. As if that was easy to do in the world we live in.

I hate to call you out on it, Mrs. Accountant, et al, but if you think long and hard about it, you will see the connection, you will realize that Obama is fighting on your side and doing the best he can.

You see, what he and the Congressional Democrats worth their salt have been doing for the past year is only in part battling for health care reform. Obviously, they have also been dealing with the Great Depression Redux and normal day-to-day matters of state, but, most importantly, they have been scrapping behind the scenes with the greatest enemy our country has ever known--our own greed.

This greed is manifest in a Brobdingnagian python called "Special Interest" that has nearly strangled the life out of our political establishment, as it twists around the Capitol Building, squeezing harder every time the nation exhales.

Until you slay this python, nothing is possible, much less creating jobs out of thin air. This task is not an easy one--in ancient times, it would have called for a Theseus, in modern times, apparently it called for an Obama.

Now, I am not a blind fan of his, mind you--nor am I even a Democrat. I am an independent thinker who is smart enough to align myself with the Democrats for the time-being--although they themselves are far from perfect--since we live in a country that unfortunately allows us only two realistic choices.

I definitely had my doubts about Obama's performance, and continued to have them for quite some time. I started to believe he was crumbling under his own inability to recognize the impossibility of non-partisan politics, the true strength of special interests, the futility of his efforts, the precarious nature of his position.

His grand plan didn't hit me until health care gave its final push, seemed suddenly on the verge of success, and it was then I realized the full effect of his masterstroke--he spent the entire last year trying to reach across the aisle and get Republican input because he knew that either way it would work out in the nation's favor.

Either the Republicans would participate and help to hammer something out, or they would strut around the henyard looking like deranged assholes in the media for an entire year, and he would ram it down their throats anyway.

Clearly, the latter scenario has played out and I must say I am in awe of his patience, his plotting. The Republicans (and many Democratic beards) have been assholes for decades, but they have always been able to skate, have never really been called out en masse.

The beauty of Obama's method is that the health care debate went on long enough that too many Republicans said too many idiotic things, too many Republicans went down in homosexual/extramarital/corruption scandals, too many Republicans came up with zero alternative plans, and right when they thought they were ramping-up to take over Congress and set themselves up for a repeat of the 'glorious' Bush years, they have been decimated.

They not only lost the health care battle, but looked like complete assholes in the bargain. Everything they said was recorded, everything was written about. Best of all, the drama went on long enough that it even managed to filter down to people who don't ordinarily follow politics or watch the news. Many Republican supporters have come out against them as a result of their actions, of their ridiculously juvenile and sinister methods.

This new, energized environment will hopefully allow for easier passage of other necessary measures--jobs legislation, financial reform, gay marriage, education, etc.--and those wavering, could-be converts to the Democratic cause might finally realize that the Republicans do not care a lick about their plight, about America, about true freedom. Their one goal is make more money for their masters, since they know they will get a nice fat cut when it's time to retire and they somehow land a cushy part-time job that pays them 6-7 figures for playing golf all week.

Yes, the health care victory has emboldened Democratic leadership, buoyed them in the polls, inspired the previously lackadaisical electorate, and, most importantly, stomped on the throat of the Republican Misinformation Asshole Authority (DC Local 600).

The dawning of a new era seems possible.

Which isn't to say that I have just dropped acid, decked myself out in flowers, and done a rain dance out of deluded excitement for a world without evil, but we are now, without a doubt, living in a world where evil has at the very least been taken down a notch, and I need to take what I can get.

Of course, the Republicans are not one to admit this defeat and have responded in typical fashion:
1. 32 Republicans have filed ridiculous amendments to the health care bill, knowing that all Democrats will have to vote against them to ensure passage of the bill. Get ready for election commercials along these lines: "He voted against a measure to deny Viagra to known pedophiles. Is this the kind of man you want in charge of the future of your children?"

2. Others went home crying, like sore losers do, their flaccid penises dragging between their legs, whined to their loyal asshole cronies that it isn't fair, that they need to do something about this fast, and are now fighting the health care bill in state courts, where you know it can unfortunately take an eternity to get a result--while rich lawyers rake in taxpayer dollars, while benefits are potentially delayed.
Meanwhile, the Republican leadership tries to regroup, tries to brainstorm how a relative handful of crazy assholes can reclaim the most powerful country on Earth and use it for evil.

Meanwhile, all the corporations shaking in their boots at what the future may hold will continue to fund them, will increase their lobbying efforts, will continue to buy everyone that is to be bought, will do everything in their power to maintain the regrettable pre-health-care status quo.

Like it or not, we are at a tipping point. We can be redeemed or we can tumble down the bottomless pit.

Only time will reveal our fate, but everything on me is crossed right now--even my eyes--and my hope for the future has been restored.

Let's not blow this.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gamebreaker: The Pope is an Asshole

Not like this is a surprise to anybody with half a brain in this day and age--except people who cover their ears and babble incoherently whenever reality threatens their spiritual core, of course--but the Pope is complicit in the cover-up of years upon years of admitted sexual abuse in multiple countries.

Say wha?

Yeah. Check out the latest. And, while you're at it, check out the dirt in Germany.

What will it take for people to abandon the Catholic faith? Does the Pope himself have to molest their child as he holds them down with a solid-gold scepter coated in blood diamonds and makes them watch?

Would that work? Or would it just be one more of those 'mysterious ways' in which God works?

Organized religion makes me so sick. I gotta stop this right now...

Too late.


America: Where Nobody Gets River-Dick

Have you heard of river-dick? It's a phrase I coined today [Brah-VO, sir! -Ed.] to describe what happens to a man--or boy--who encounters a candiru in the Amazon and loses the battle.

This little supposed penis-loving fish hardly plagues the men of the world, but I wager it must be on the minds of enough men to be worthy of mention.

Why? Because it is a tiny parasitic fish that supposedly swims up your urethra when you pee in the Amazon river and, due in part to the spikes on its scales, results in incredible pain.

Can you imagine how many parents in the Amazon are trained to be able to recognize the signs of river-dick in their children by now? How many homeopathic remedies there must be for this situation by now? How many children suffered as a result of the inevitable learning curve in discovering said remedies?

Granted, river-dick may be something that used to happen way more frequently (like Polio, which is finally making a comeback...), it may be no more than a legend, or it may be an everyday reality for a breed of people without much use for doctors or documentation.

Regardless, two things are certain:
1. The mere threat of its existence has stopped more than one man from dunking into the Amazon.

2. Its absence is one of the great things about living in America and, things being as they are these days (health care reform aside), it has finally crept onto the travel brochures.

Don't Drink the Water

Worthy of a re-post, courtesy of Huffington Post:

"March 22nd is World Water Day. On this day all eyes will be turned overseas to the 1.1 billion people that lack access to clean drinking water. What few Americans realize is that the world water crisis has hit America with little fanfare and if we do not act soon, the devastating effects will be irreversible. But luckily this year something significant is being done about it. Beginning on world water day, an amazing new award-winning documentary, called Tapped, will embark on a 30-day cross-country trip across America in an effort to raise awareness of the water crisis in America and wean the public off their reliance on bottled water.

And yet, this is just a "drop" of what needs to be done.

While 90 percent of the US has access to clean drinking water, the remaining 10 percent live in conditions that resemble a third-world country. In a bonus clip for Tapped offered on their website, Tapped takes us to a town just three hours from Los Angeles where the water has been so polluted by the local farming community that residents must make daily trips to buy bottled water to cook, clean, and bathe in. They spend their paychecks buying bottled water thinking they will limit their exposure to the toxins in their tap water, not realizing that only a few of us really know what's in our bottled water because less than one full-time staff person at the FDA is responsible for making sure that bottled water is safe for us.

Take for example the water coolers that so many of us have in our homes and offices. Those five-gallon water jugs are made from a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA), which was originally developed as a synthetic estrogen. Exposure to BPA has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive failures, heart disease, cognitive and behavioral problems, diabetes, obesity and asthma. A study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control in 2007 showed that 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine. More recent studies are even scarier suggesting that BPA stays in the body longer than previously believed and that babies and young children may be particularly vulnerable because they may metabolize BPA more slowly than adults. Furthermore, in a study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group this past December, scientists found the chemical in nine of 10 randomly selected samples of umbilical cord blood.

The BPA compound is so harmful that several states have taken the matter on their own and are now banning it:

• Minnesota and Connecticut have lead the way and already have laws on their books banning BPA.
• Just this March, Wisconsin signed a law limiting BPA use.

• Governor Gregoire of Washington State has a bill on her desk limiting the use of BPA awaiting her signature.

• Both Houses in Maryland have approved a bill banning BPA. Governor O'Malley is expected to sign it into law

• Massachusetts has gone further and is considering banning BPA, including its use in baby bottles and sippy cups

Yet a powerful lobbying compounded by an aggressive advertising campaign by the bottled water industry have persuaded Americans that bottled water is safer, more pure and healthier than their tap water. And so bottled sales continue to rise astronomically even as scientific evidence proving the devastating effects of the industry is stronger than ever. Hello FDA, anybody home?

But what about the single-serve plastic water bottles that so many of us tote to the gym or keep in the trunks of our cars? Those are made with a different type of plastic called PET or polyethylene terephthalate, which is also not free of its harmful effect. Scientists at Goeth University in Frankfurt found in a laboratory experiment in 2009 that estrogenic compounds leach from the plastic into the water. The lead researcher of the study, Martin Wagener, and a colleague used genetically engineered yeast, which changes color in the presence of estrogen-like compounds to analyze 20 samples of mineral water. Nine samples came out of glass bottles, nine were bottled in PET plastic and two were in cardboard, juice-like boxes.

The experiment revealed estrogenic activity in seven of the nine plastic bottles and in both cardboard samples, compared with just three of the nine glass ones: "What we found was really surprising to us. If you drink water from plastic bottles, you have a high probability of drinking estrogenic compounds," Wagner reported.

Epidemiologist Shanna Swan of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York summarizes the issue very effectively: "This is coming at a good time because the use of bottles for consuming water is getting very bad press now because of its carbon footprint," she says. "It's just another nail in the coffin of bottled water, the way I see it."

What she was referring to was the fact that It takes 1.5 million barrels a year of oil just to make the plastic water bottles Americans use. Add to that the energy needed to extract the water, refrigerate the bottles, transport them around the country (and the world), and you are looking at 50 million barrels of oil a year, according to the Pacific Institute. To add yet another nail to the coffin, a study by the environmental working group found that their samples of bottled water contained disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and, not surprising, pain medication. Where do we think all the medication we take -- or worse yet, dispose of in our toilets -- ends up? Back in our water system. And most public water sanitation systems do not filter out medication or drug metabolites.

In a telephone interview with Tapped director Stephanie Soechtig, she was passionate about many of the facts uncovered in her documentary including the shocking reality that Americans in general fail to realize that 40 percent of their bottled water is drawn from municipal supplies and suffers the same problems as their tap water or worse. When water is packaged in plastic containers, it faces the potential of an array of other chemicals leaching into it. "The truth is we don't really know what is in our bottled water because it goes virtually unregulated by the FDA," Soechtig said.

According to the UN, by the year 2020, two-thirds of the world will lack access to clean drinking water. Due to economic disparities, women and Children will likely continue to be exposed to thousands of chemicals in water that are virtually unregulated by governments across the globe, including ours. And even in the US, the world's largest economy, the water and sewer pipes are so old and in such need of repair that Nestle has recently stated that America's failing infrastructure would boost bottled water sales. Yet with 40 percent of bottled water being drawn from municipal supplies, as stated previously, there is no guarantee that bottled water is any safer for us.

In addition, as previously indicated, plasticizers in our water and sewer stream are creating devastating effects to local ecosystems. The documentary uncovered that In Colorado, for instance, scientists discovered transgender fish that possessed both male and female reproductive systems because they had been exposed to the estrogen-mimicking effects of plastic. What can we do as citizens to promote change? Get educated, demand more specific water regulation and medication safety disposal from representatives in our local, state and federal governments and watch educational documentaries such as Tapped. At Akasha we found Multipure -- an affordable bottle-less water cooler than connects to the tap and runs the water through a filtration process that dispenses water more pure than bottled water. We are relentlessly educating our patients on their options and their power as consumers. We urge all of you to take a stand and not only demand more strict regulation by the FDA but also find safer and environmentally conscious alternatives to bottled water.

Dr. Edison de Mello is the founder, executive Director and co-director of the Men's Clinic of the Akasha Center for integrative Medicine in Santa Monica California. For further information visit"

You have been warned.

You have also been warned before, just so you know...