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Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012
If they can stop one act of violence, they might stop another.

Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz’s documentary opens with this self-description: “One year in the life of a city grappling with violence.” During that year, the film follows three Interrupters, former offenders, as they work in Chicago for an organization called CeaseFire. Premiering on Frontline on 14 February, The Interrupters details their backstories and their current efforts, while also considering the premise of CeaseFire, that violence can be treated like a disease, that its transmission can be interrupted. “People believe in punishment,” says epidemiologist and CeaseFire co-founder Gary Slutkin, because when “you punish a young person, he stops. But he actually learns to mimic the punishment.” Young offenders, he says, are caught in a cycle: “They see violence as their disease, what they expect to die of, is this.” The Interrupters intervene, talking and spending time with offenders, helping them to see alternatives to revenge and anger. If the task is daunting, CeaseFire members are courageous. In spite of missteps and steps back, in spite of the many times that the interrupters attend funerals and console grieving parents, they try again and again. If they can stop one act of violence, they might stop another.


See PopMattersreview.



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Friday, Feb 10, 2012
In the ever-evolving world of advertising, there is a trend rising in, quite literally, every direction: 3-D Mapping Projection.

Though I do cringe at paying extra, I admit that I’ll go to the occasional 3-D movie in theaters, just to see how different the experience is. What I didn’t realize until very recently, was that I could get a similar experience for free, just by standing on the sidewalk at the right time and place.


In the ever-evolving world of advertising, there is a trend rising in, quite literally, every direction: 3-D Mapping Projection. This technology, which is certainly too complex for me to understand, much less explain, is simplified by Wikipedia as “any method of mapping three-dimensional points to a two-dimensional plane”.


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Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012

Stanley Nelson’s exceptional documentary tells the story of the Freedom Rides, from their initiation in May 1961, by James Farmer and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), to the Interstate Commerce Commission’s (ICC) ruling that September, that passengers on interstate buses could sit wherever they wanted, “the first unambiguous victory in the long history of the civil rights movement.” Freedom Riders—airing on PBS on 7 February—offers some incredible images from the period to show how this victory was the result of months of struggle, including assaults on the freedom riders by angry citizens as well as police officers. Boarding commercial buses (Trailways and Greyhound) in Washington, DC and intending to ride through the Deep South, the riders set out deliberately to violate Southern segregation laws. Each CORE member signed a formal agreement, stating, “I understand that I shall be participating in a nonviolent protest… against racial discrimination, that arrest or personal injury to me might result.” They had little expectation of the violence that would be inflicted on them.


See PopMattersreview.


Watch Freedom Riders Theatrical Trailer on PBS. See more from Freedom Riders.


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Thursday, Jan 26, 2012

“President Reagan has fought long and hard to prevent Congress from imposing new economic sanctions on South Africa. Recently, even leaders of his own party begged him to stop. He didn’t. Today, he lost.” Footage of Dan Rather’s report on CBS in October 1986 serves as a kind of exclamation point when it appears in Have You Heard From Johannesburg. Before and following this clip, the film shows member of the Black Congressional Caucus then and now, recalling their fight to support the ANC against the racist South African government. When at last the Senate and the House voted to override the president’s veto, the movement was approaching its goal, the end of apartheid, the release of Nelson Mandela from prison (still three and a half years away, in 1990), and the official recognition by Western nations—the US, Britain, France, and others—that apartheid was, in fact, a threat to world peace.


This moment was an overlong time coming, of course, but still, when it does come in “Free at Last,” the fifth and final PBS installment of Connie Field’s documentary on 26 January, you’d be hard-pressed not to feel at least a bit of relief. As the film reveals, the strategies to get to this moment shift over the years, as the ANC is joined by other organizations, based in in South Africa and elsewhere. The ANC continued to represent through Oliver Tambo in exile (who says in an archival interview that even as bomb attacks were escalating in South Africa, “We continue, of course, to calculate on what this means for civilians” as well as Mandela (who became the movement’s most recognizable “name and face”). When an interviewer asks him, “Does your wife worry about you?”, Tambo patently responds. “Of course she does. I expect I really do expect that I will be killed by the regime or its representatives.”


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Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012

I went to Disney World for the first time in my life in November 2011. At that time, I saw, in person, the Joy Division Mickey Mouse T-Shirt. Since I spent the days after the trip attempting to suppress all memories of dancing and singing animals, copious amounts of fried food, and dancing and singing animals eating copious amounts of fried food, I never wrote anything about the truly bizarre nature of this souvenir. So, of course, Pitchfork scooped me.


No matter. The more press this story gets, the better.


All I can add is that the thought of every roller coaster in the park playing Joy Division music—“It’s getting faster moving faster now… Lights are flashing, cars are crashing…”—is either one of the most horrible or most awesome thoughts ever. As they say in an election year, you decide. Cast your votes in the comments section.



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