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- 07/23/17--00:42: _the cia in hollywood
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- 07/17/17--05:25: black bird press news, voice of freedom fighters everywhere
- 07/17/17--06:57: from the archives--of monks and ministers by marvin x
- 07/17/17--13:02: prison radio breaking news
- 07/17/17--13:50: from the archives--unity, criticism, unity
- 07/17/17--20:33: history of usa interfering in elections worldwide
- 07/18/17--09:23: from the archives--pillar award for marvin x
- 07/18/17--09:31: from the archives--marvin x fictional interview with prez obama
- 07/20/17--01:00: belated hapi b day assata
- 07/20/17--19:12: black bird press news popular posts
- 07/20/17--19:22: equity for oakland downtown plan
- Housing, Affordability, Jobs, Training & Economic Opportunity Working Group
- Arts & Culture Working Group
- Streets, Connectivity & Built Environment Working Group
- Sustainability, Health, Safety, Recreation & Open Space Working Group
- Monday, July 31: Housing, Affordability, Jobs, Training & Economic Opportunity
- Tuesday, August 1: Arts & Culture
- Wednesday, August 2: Streets, Connectivity & Built Environment
- Thursday, August 3: Sustainability, Health, Safety, Recreation & Open Space
- 07/21/17--08:36: black woman is god exhibit
- 07/23/17--00:42: the cia in hollywood
- 07/23/17--00:49: book: national security cinema
Marvin X on Unity, Criticism, Unity
There are those who seem to feel there are sacred cows that are beyond criticism. We do not accept this for who is without sin, no one! We thus have the right to criticize mama or daddy if and when they get down wrong. Sometimes we can doctor the patient to death, so Mao said cure the sickness to save the patient. So we must do surgery, examine the body, look for malignancies and repair contradictions.
Of course there is a time and place for the operation. Recently a young fool attacked Amiri Baraka at a breakfast in his honor. We think this was the wrong time to verbally assault an honored guest and the person should have been chastised. Baraka is our greatest living revolutionary writer and as our elder, he deserves much respect.
Now the sacred cow of the hour is our President. There are those North American Africans who want nothing critical said of Prez. Don't say nothing about him cause the white man is saying enough negative. I agree with Cornell West who says we must respect him, protect him, but check him. There is no need to be personal since it is his political policies, not his personality we must examine critically. He seems to have slowly slipped into the permanent war philosophy of his predecessors. He has no plan of substance to solve the unemployment quagmire. Capitulating to the Republicans on no taxation of the rich while extending unemployment checks for the poor is no answer for the long term problem of joblessness.
Yes, it hurts to hear the white man say our Prez has no backbone, but it's true. His concept of compromise is capitulation. Ishmael Reed is more reserved in his criticism, but let's see what Ish has to say in his New York Times op-ed column tomorrow. Ishmael pleads us to give the Prez more time in his book Obama and the Jim Crow Media and the Nigger Breakers, but I am totally disappointed in my book Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself. I'm ready to tell the brothers to pull yo pants down and show the Prez yo black unruly asses. Even our radical Congresswoman Barbara Lee has come out against his caving in to the Republication tax program. Now you don't wanna get Mama mad up in here! Unity, Criticism, Unity!
When I wrote an article about Minister Farrakhan, he sent me a message saying that I raked him over the coals, which I did, so he asked me to please contact him first when I want to write something about him so he can tell me his side of the story. I agreed.
Of course there are those who don't want anything critical written about the minister. Now the white man is exempt since he is allowed to say anything without reprisal, but we want to kill another North American African.
Don't ever think there is freedom of speech in the community of North American Africans. They want to muzzle you at every turn, especially the culture police, the gate keepers. Where is the free press in the Pan African world? Arab world--until Al Jazeera! Don't speak about the number of journalists killed in Mexico in the last few months, years.
Gary Webb and Sacramento Bee writer Fahizah Alim who interviewed him shortly before his suicide.
In America, we need only recall the supposed suicide of Gary Webb who exposed the US government Crack connection, and also the assassination of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey in broad daylight, downtown Oakland, because he was investigating the Oakland Police Department's shakedown, drug dealing, murder squad in black face. He was also investigating corruption at then Mayor Jerry Brown's City Hall.
At this hour we await the elimination (murder) of the founder of Wikileaks. Obama has made him a dead man walking for exposing the emperor has no clothes. So much for freedom of speech in America.
I don't care what someone writes about me, true or false, because usually I will have the last word! And furthermore, I've had the unique ability to outlive my enemies. In my memoir of Eldridge Cleaver, I said some things I probably wouldn't have said if he'd been alive. But he's said things about me that were outright lies. See the collection of his writings edited by Kathleen Cleaver. I actually hesitated writing about him to respect his children who, I feel, were somewhat embarrassed at the antics of their father. I'm sure my children were embarrassed at mine.
I haven't written about my beloved friend Amiri Baraka for the same reason, although someone asked him why hasn't Marvin written about him? He replied because Marvin knows I will have something to say about him!
In my play One Day in the Life, there is a scene about my last meeting with Huey Newton in a West Oakland Crack house. The Bay Area Black Panthers were not too pleased about the scene, although they didn't mind my remarks about Eldridge in the play. When we did the play on the east coast, the New York Panthers pulled me aside to let me know they didn't give a damn about Huey Newton, that Eldridge was their man. As we know, when the Black Panther Party split, Huey's army was on the west coast, Eldridge's on the east.
In Oakland, I officiated the memorial service for Eldridge. Kathleen attended. She said it was a nice service but there were too many Muslims, which is ironic since Eldridge denounced the Muslims even before he was released from prison. Of course when he became a Born Again Christian, Muslims dominated the staff of his ministry, with myself as his chief assistant. See Eldridge Cleaver, My Friend the Devil, a memoir, Marvin X, 2009, introduction by Amiri Baraka.
Those who have sacred cows must simply keep their cows in the barn. Sometimes we have thin skin and want nothing said negative about the sacred cow.
Certainly, we felt this way about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We were ready to kill anyone who said something negative about the man we considered the lamb of God.
Minister Farrakhan has confessed he fanned the flames of Malcolm's murder. At the time I was critical of Malcolm but I got over it when I realized shit happens in revolution. Read the history of any revolution, African, Chinese, Russian, Cuban, Mexican, American, and you shall find similar happenings, betrayal, jealousy, envy, assassination (character and physical). As per Malcolm and Elijah, again, I love them both and always shall. They both helped form my consciousness and I cannot deny this.
I wrote a poem recently praising Clara Muhammad, first wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, a woman not often praised in the history of North American Africans. John Woodford, former editor of Muhammad Speaks, said it will be one of my classic poems because it honors a great woman.
A Muslim who was not part of the first resurrection got upset with the poem because of what I said about Elijah, the wretched condition he was in when Master Fard Muhammad knocked on his door in Detroit. Why did Master Fard knock on his door? Wasn't it because he was deaf, dumb and blind? Shall I say I wasn't deaf, dumb and blind when I accepted the teachings of the HEM? Shall I say I knew what was happening because I was attending San Francisco State University and the white man had hipped me to what's happening?
No, we were some blind, deaf and dumb so-called Negroes at San Francisco State University, although we had heard Malcolm rapping, but there was much Supreme wisdom we lacked that would later take our consciousness to a higher level. We (and I speak for all the black students in the Bay Area who became Muslims and/or came into black consciousness) must be eternally grateful for Brother Edward who came on campuses with Muhammad Speaks to save our lives with the teachings. In our ignut, arrogant, mis-education, we spate upon and cursed brother Edward for interrupting our Bid Whist game! Called him nigguh, motherfucker and everything under the sun for simply trying to wake up our dead, deaf, dumb and blind asses.
All the people, especially students in the Bay who came into the Nation or were influenced by the Nation in the late 60s know what I'm talking about, and this includes Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Oba T'Shaka, Donald Warden (Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al Mansour), Norman Brown, Askia Muhammad, Fahizah Alim, Joan Tarika Lewis, Timothy Allen Simon, Abdul Sabry, Mar'yam Waidai, et al.
Unity, Criticism, Unity! We must be able to criticize each other constructively, to engage in debate and dialogue. This is how civilize people conduct their affairs. Now savages want to kill, no debate, no dialogue, no comment. Man, I wanna smoke dat nigguh! Grow up, get a life! Will you hide the truth while you know? (Al Qur'an)
Congratulations Marvin X for receiving the 1st Annual Pillar Award for your Eldership and tireless work and pioneering spirit in the Black Arts and Black Power movement, thank you for introducing Eldridge Cleaver to Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, thank you for sharing your journey and testimonies, thank you for teaching us how to fight institutionalized racism and white supremacy with your strong example of self-determination through Black Bird Press, thank you moving forward to educate the masses through theater and poetry even after you got 'White Listed' from professorship in the UC System because you taught THE TRUTH, thank you for rising from the jaws of Cointelpro like a Phoenix to continue the struggle!!! We Stand Strong on your Legacy. Bless you Baba Marvin X. Ase,
-Toussaint Haki Stewart with the Elder Zone.
Marvin. And as far as The Black Scholar is concerned, whenever people are talking about something they never have but part of the picture. I used to get couples in who’d broken up years ago but the courts or/and the schools demanded they get treatment re their child in trouble, and sometimes they’d be surprised of things they thought had happened or didn’t know what happened.
The Black Scholar kicked off so well because a white guy who usually got a thousand dollars for designing covers (say ten thousand in today’s terms) voluntarily did the cover through Alan Ross, who was co-owner of Graphic Arts of Marin. But he didn’t fund us, though he’d print free at first and let us use an office in the building free at first. But we started the journal by chipping in three hundred dollars apiece, except that it didn’t total nine hundred dollars, just seven hundred and fifty, because Bob Chrisman couldn’t come up with but half of his. That’s why the irony of his willing it to his daughter. Who would have thought of such a thing. I made many mistakes in life, but one was not in leaving with Al Ross as he continued to implore me to do, as we could have put The Black Scholar in the shade.
The City of Oakland is excited to announce a relaunched and expanded process for developing a specific plan for downtown Oakland. The City began the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan process in fall of 2015 to create a vision and guiding policy to shape the downtown. The City then paused the process to hire a consulting team of local specialists in both social equity policy and community engagement to address the community’s concerns about racial disparities and displacement.
The next phase is a series of working group meetings on four topic areas based on issues the community identified during the first phase of the specific plan process:
If these more intensive working groups are not for you, there will be other opportunities to participate in the planning process. There will be a series of neighborhood design meetings in October and public workshops in late 2017/early 2018 to help develop the draft plan. Stay tuned for more information!
Anna W. Edwards
April Martin Chartrand
April Luvly Martin
Djenne Ba Dynna Batties
Fan Lee Warren
Kristina “Namastina” Williams
Nye’ Lyn Tho
Taiwo & Kehinde
Tania L. Balan-Gaubert
Vanessa Addison Williams
Worldly Sistah–Tracy Brown
July 20–August 26, 2017
Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday 12–7pm & Saturday 12–5pm
The exhibition is free to visit during gallery hours and during the opening reception. SOMArts Cultural Center is located at 934 Brannan St. (between 8th & 9th Streets), San Francisco, CA, 94103. SOMArts is wheelchair/ADA accessible. More information on accessibility is available here.
Thursday, July 20, 6pm–midnight
The opening night celebration kicks off with live music and participatory dance celebration in the Gallery. To learn more, visit www.somarts.org/theblackwomanisgodopening2017.
Saturday, July 22, 1–4pm
SOMArts, the California Digital Library and Art Practical present a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in conjunction with The Black Woman is God to raise the online visibility of Black women artists and challenge the gaps in art history that erase or minimize Black women’s contributions as artists, activists and social change-makers. To learn more, visit www.somarts.org/theblackwomanisgodwikipedia.
Friday, August 25 & Saturday, August 26, 8:00pm–midnight
Luminous art installations, including audiovisual performances and performative interventions by over 25 artists, and digital and cinematic projections by over 20 artists. Tickets are $12 in advance online or $15 at the door, or $20 to attend both nights of the Festival. http://nightlightparty2017.eventbrite.com
rise up Lazarus
don't worry Mary
Martha don't moan
I got Lazarus in my arms
"The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television," by Tricia Jenkins
Reviewed by Julius Taranto
Though everyone would surely prefer otherwise, public relations crises are part of the CIA’s ordinary business. The fact that so much of its work is classified puts the Agency in one of those tricky, plumber-like governmental roles: when it does its job right, no one should notice. But when it screws up, there’s a mess, and things smell awful.
The nature of any covert enterprise is rigged against popularity: the Agency can’t ordinarily brag about its hard-won successes or even update Americans with news of general competence. The FBI, by contrast, gets to issue press releases detailing high-profile arrests and convictions. But with rare exceptions, the CIA hits the front page only when something has gone badly sideways.
This asymmetry naturally gives rise to an image problem, so the CIA needs a way of loopholing if it wants to shape public perception. Fiction about the Agency—particularly television and movies, the most potent and culture-shaping mediums—has turned out to be that loophole. But it has its risks.
Depending on whom you ask, Hollywood has been either a great friend or a persistent foe in the CIA’s quest for a better public image. Some might point to media characterizations of the CIA as a rogue, hapless, or amoral institution. Just a few weeks ago, at the Agency’s request, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd talked to members of Langley’s “sisterhood,” who were “fed up with the flock of fictional CIA women in movies and on TV who guzzle alcohol as they bed hop and drone drop, acting crazed and emotional, sleeping with terrorists and seducing assets.” The point of these interviews seemed to be to insist that CIA careers are actually much more boring and difficult than they look on television.
But more probing critics might highlight that the romanticized representation of spies in film has, in fact, been a boon to the Intelligence Community. Audiences are probably seduced rather than judgmental when fictional CIA officers fall short of perfect virtue. Homeland’s Carrie Mathison may not be a girl scout or a realistic CIA officer, but there’s no question that viewers are on her side, and that they care about her more than her buttoned-up colleagues, precisely because her flaws humanize her. The Agency—and everyone who likes spy movies—should hope Maureen Dowd’s column wasn’t too persuasive, because no one wants to watch a show about unmarred professionalism and competence. They’d watch The Americans instead.
Absent flawed, interesting protagonists, in other words, CIA-themed TV shows and movies would not exist for long. And that would mean that the only time the public hears or thinks about the CIA is when the Agency is in the news, and something has probably gone wrong. So the entertainment industry’s efforts to portray the Agency hinge, paradoxically, on depicting a more flawed version of the Agency as an institution than is realistic, while depicting individual Agency officials as less lawful, less professional, and less virtuous than is realistic, either. Though possibly the most damaging effect of the television shows is not about the professionalism of individual agents or the Agency, or lack thereof, but instead that because budget constraints push TV production to take place in US locales, not abroad, the general public probably understands that Carrie Mathison is not exactly typical of Langley—but is quite unaware that the CIA is prohibited by law from operating on US soil at all.
Understanding that spy movies and shows will be produced with or without the Agency’s cooperation, Langley has established a suitably quiet relationship with the entertainment industry in the interest of securing Hollywood portrayals that are at least half-accurate, if not cloyingly positive. That Agency-Industry engagement is the topic of Tricia Jenkins’s, well, frankly underwhelming book, The CIA in Hollywood. Her effort contains a few interesting historical anecdotes, but it ultimately fails to do justice to an underserved, rich, and timely topic.
Here’s one anecdote: twenty years ago, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the Aldrich Ames scandal, there was skeptical chatter about the CIA’s continued usefulness. Rep. Dan Glickman, then the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan both publicly questioned whether the CIA should have a future. The Agency met this image problem-turned-existential threat by commissioning a network television show called The Classified Files of the C.I.A. It was to be modeled on the 1960s FBI image-vehicle The F.B.I., and it would feature a real, declassified CIA case each week. Langley would feed fact patterns to the producers, who would use them as the basis for a story and sell the show based in part on its authenticity.
The Classified Files of the C.I.A. never made it to air after the Agency and the show’s producers, Steve Tisch and Aaron Spelling, parted ways over creative differences. But if Jenkins’s account of the concept is even a little accurate, the (alas) never seen two-hour pilot episode sounds like a masterpiece of clunky and humorless propaganda that was, for the Agency’s sake, probably best kept classified. Later, after this failed attempt to micromanage professional Hollywood micromanagers, Langley opted for a lighter touch. Rather than developing its own content, it began reaching out to filmmakers already working on Agency-related projects and offering them insider expertise—and sometimes use of the CIA’s facilities, equipment, or official seal—in exchange for some influence over how the Agency would be portrayed.
This was the project of longtime CIA officer Chase Brandon, first cousin of Tommy Lee Jones and (not coincidentally) the first CIA Entertainment Industry Liaison. Brandon developed a process at Langley just like the Pentagon’s long-established Hollywood outreach program: guidance and advice are freely given, while filmmakers requesting something more costly—the use of equipment, shooting locations, or technical consultation—have their scripts reviewed to determine whether aiding production aligns with the Agency’s mission. When a filmmaker asks for more than guidance, script alterations are sometimes suggested in the name of authenticity and a more positive take on the Agency.
In Jenkins’s telling, the first two projects influenced by this system were In the Company of Spies and The Agency. After 9/11, there were a slew of others, including Alias, The Sum of All Fears, The Bourne Identity, and The Recruit. Jenkins tries to tell a story in which the Agency, allegedly in violation of the First Amendment, disingenuously attempts to twist spy movies to its own propagandistic ends and then withdraws vital support from filmmakers who refuse to capitulate. The argument is that this unequal treatment of filmmakers based only on their different characterizations of the Agency amounts to an unconstitutional suppression of speech. Where to begin? It’s hard to swallow that Jenkins is shocked, shocked to find that public relations is going on here! Beyond that, even by her own account of which movies Langley lent its hand to and which it didn’t, it’s difficult to discern any kind of consistent pattern of positivity in these films that isn’t already implied by having a CIA officer as a sympathetic protagonist.
For example, despite the fact that neither film takes a terribly positive view of Langley, both The Bourne Identity and The Recruit feature Chase Brandon in the DVD’s “extra features” segments discussing what the Agency is really like. It’s a good move—hey, we all enjoy a good movie and, no problem, we’re kind of flattered being the villains—now here’s something to show you what we’re really about. By contrast, another Agency-aided film, The Sum of All Fears, has some rather heavy-handed touches of CIA cheerleading. (Here’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan, the cool head in an apocalyptic crisis: “The President is basing his decisions on some really bad information right now. And if you shut me out, your family, and my family, and twenty-five million other families will be dead in thirty minutes. My orders are to get the right information to the people who make the decisions.”)
A flawed or overdramatic presentation of the CIA is probably better for Langley than none at all, and over the years the Agency has supported a wide array of films. Even portrayals that caricature the Agency as an institution of ungoverned, amoral assassins aren’t necessarily so bad from a public relations standpoint: they’ll still have a thrilling, outlaw power to them. It’s not despite James Bond’s license to kill that we find him so alluring. The more critical (Syriana, The Good Shepherd) or fantastical (Alias, The Bourne Identity) films likely still help with Agency recruitment (if not internal morale). But Jenkins—an obvious, agenda-driven skeptic of the Agency—rests her whole argument on the simplistic premise that the CIA is flatly against inaccurate or uncharitable appearances in film. If that’s an Agency line, it certainly isn’t the whole picture.
By no fault of its own, Jenkins’s book suffers from a just-too-soon publication date. It doesn’t reach Zero Dark Thirty and the investigation into the screenwriter Mark Boal’s help from Langley. Jenkins also doesn’t have a chance to talk much about eventual Best Picture winner Argo, which centers on the Agency’s creation of a fake Hollywood production company (so convincing that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas submitted screenplays) in order to rescue six hostages from Tehran. Alas, there could hardly be two more fitting moments from which to launch a discussion of the coy romance between Hollywood and the Agency.
The book also declines to connect the Agency’s current entertainment industry efforts to its long history of cultural influence. (Just one example of this—and maybe an opportunity for some future inquiry—was the CIA role in generating early funding and prestige for the now-famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop.) And Jenkins only mentions in passing Langley’s relationship with USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, where Industry professionals workshop threat scenarios and develop military and intelligence tools. So there are gaps in Jenkins’s coverage, and it misses an opportunity for a larger intellectual discussion about the proper role of a democratic government and its agencies, covert or overt, in the promotion of its foundational political ideas—but the book at least cracks the door on some undeniably cool topics.
When the CIA first reached out to Hollywood, it was facing questions about the fundamental utility of centralized intelligence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But after 9/11, the Agency was vaulted to a position of prominence and is unlikely to face such skepticism about its significance anytime soon. This has surely given Langley more latitude in the types of films it can support, in addition to inclining filmmakers to think harder, and more charitably, about what the Agency does and why.
With doubters banished and solid funding, the Agency would now likely prefer to return to its role as a good plumber—where nothing goes wrong, and no one pays attention. But the occasional real scandal or high-profile movie seems inevitable. Intelligence will continue to be fertile ground for high-stakes storytelling, especially while terrorism remains in the headlines. So the question remains how to make the best of an unwanted spotlight. The CIA has a place in Hollywood, whether it wants one or not.
(Julius Taranto, a Student Fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project, was a writer in Los Angeles before entering law school.)