Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dylan at 70: Murray Lerner comments on producing The Other Side of the Mirror: Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival

In 2007, Murray Lerner, a Harvard graduate and East Coast film maker released his much awaited documentary of Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festivals that began 44 years earlier.

The Columbia DVD is a black and white masterpiece that all Dylan fans will much admire as it shows Dylan's transformation over 3 years, 1963, 1964 and 1965--from a newly arrived folk singer (much admired by Pete Seeger and others) into a star performer along with Joan Baez.

By 1965, the two-- Dylan and Baez- were the King and Queen of the festival. In fact, it was reported that Dylan and his queen paraded around aristocratic Newport with the former sporting a bull whip that he would periodically crack!

The highlight of the DVD is a 25 minute 'bonus' interview with Lerner in which he describes his inspiration(s) and his ideologies behind his minimalistic camera technique.

There are three major points that Lerner conveys to his viewers.

First, at Harvard he studied modern poetry and TS Eliot's objective correlative was all the rage. The idea, as Lerner explains is that poetry has the ability to communicate  before it is understood. The poet would pick an image that would resonate with the idea you want to express without saying it.

Lerner relates the objective correlative to his filming technique:  "What I'd like to express in film at the time was an emotion that clarified for the viewer new thoughts, new ideas brought to a new level... "

While T.S. Eliot would pick an image to express an emotion, (e.g. 'like a patient etherized upon the table' in Prufrock), Lerner would, in filming the Newport festival, have many unexpected juxtapositions of images that brings the viewer to a new level. An example of such an odd juxtaposition where you see a woman saying pop music is folk music and then you suddenly have Dylan playing an electric organ.

There is no narration in the film and it works by simple odd juxtapositions that make it flow.

Second, Lerner himself and his other cinematographers were instructed to minimize the movement of the camera. There is virtually no panning of the audience when Dylan is onstage. And for example, in Maggie's Farm where Dylan fades in and out of darkness, the camera does not move.

In 1965, when Dylan went electric, the camera angles up to Dylan's face providing a closeup of not only his expression and a dimple on his right side but also his now fashionable leather blazer.

Finally, Lerner discusses the afternoon workshop footage that is featured in all three years. Simply put, Dylan and other artists would offer sessions scattered around the center stage. While the evening sessions drew about 20,000 fans, the afternoon topical performances would attract crowds of 5,000!

The DVD is highly recommended. Perhaps one day, we will understand why Lerner waited over 40 years to share his stored footage with us!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Scrap Metals Questions Haunt Mayor Pavia's New Administration: Hats off to the Stamford Advocate's Excellent and Persistent reporting

By now we Stamfordites are saturated with the scrap metals story.

The issue has dominated The Advocates's front pages and now its editorial pages for weeks and weeks and weeks, months and months and months. We citizens get nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Thumbs up, thumbs way up to today's Advocate for the editorial "Metal meeting gives no answers, questions remain." 

Read it, get enlightened and demand transparency.

We want the 'full' story to come out.

It now rests in the hands of our new Mayor to demand prompt answers. Though this 'scandal' predates his administration, why hasn't he been more aggressive in demanding answers--from all involved departments.

Not to do so seriously weakens his credibility and leadership.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hoping that our Hope Street Glenbrook Connecticut Post Office will be spared the Ax

Stamford's Glenbrook Post Office located at 370 Hope Street

As I drove by my local Post Office in Glenbrook yesterday, I noticed a Cablevision News 12 van parked in front of our local postal station.

They are probably filming a story on the possible closure I reasoned.

The Wall Street Journal reports that 3,653-including Glenbrook and 2 in Bridgeport-- are on a list of stations that may be closed.

About a year and a half ago, Glenbrook was faced with a possible closure and was fortunately spared the ax.

We residents of the area who depend on the convenience-- especially at holiday when lines are 20-30 people long-- certainly hope that our Hope Street facility will be a part of our community for many years to come!

Meanwhile please contact  our Congressman Jim Himes at : to keep open our Glenbrook Post Office!

There is hope for Hope!

Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection supervises Gas Station Storage Tank Cleanups Around the State and in Stamford

Here in Stamford , you may have noticed gas stations being shut down for extended periods of time--up to 6 months or longer.

In our neighborhoods, the A&P Citgo on Glenbrook Ave. closed for about 4 months; now the Newfield Greens station will be shut down for several months as private environmental clean up crews spend months cleaning up the toxic lead wastes that have leaked from underground storage tanks (UST's).

Costs run up to several hundred dollars per station.

On an earlier morning this month, I caught up with the cleanup crew at Newfield Greens and the result is this video.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Regaining My Speech: The Wonders of Mercury Amalgam Removal and Cilantro Tea

Almost three years ago, I started to lose my speech.  To speak required an effort and most people assumed I had suffered a stroke.

Such, however, was not the case.

Urine toxic metal tests indicated a very high level of mercury.

My mouth had two adjacent  mercury silver amalgam fillings (consisting of 50% mercury , 35% silver then tin, zinc and copper)  that had been in my teeth for more than 25 years.

Could there be a connection, I conjectured, between the fillings and my loss of speech?

I began to do some research and discovered a video entitled Smoking Teeth=Poison Gas.

The video became a major part of a blog I posted a year ago, entitled "This Video Should Dispel any Doubts About the Mercury Toxins in Your Amalgam Fillings." (posted July 30, 2010)

I also learned that mercury could be a causal factor in a number of devastating nervous disorders such as Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS).

In scientific terms, mercury vapor  interferes with the neural transmission of impulses that effect motor actions; the latter includes movements of the vocal chords that produce speech.

And, most important, the video pointed out that the amount of mercury vapor being released in the mouth is 1,000 times higher than the which the  Environmental Protection Agency will allow for the air that we breathe.

Traditional dentists were telling me that my mercury fillings were harmless. Somehow, I was unsatisfied with their explanations.

I decided to visit a holistic Dentist in Yorktown Heights, N.Y--Dr. David Lerner.

 Dr. Lerner first performed a test to determine the amount of mercury being emitted by my two fillings. He inserted two electrodes on the two amalgam fillings.

The results were astounding.

To my amazement, the needle deflected all the way off the scale indicating the highest level of mercury emission.

The Doctor admitted to me at the time that my impaired vocal chords could be adversely affected by toxic mercury.

A flash of green light immediately lit up in my mind.

I reasoned that the proximity of the amalgam fillings  to my vocal chords was causing a malfunction in them.

It turns out that I am right. A year after the procedure, I have my voice back again. It came back to me gradually so that now it is at full strength.

It should be stressed that about 5 months ago, I began to drink tea made by steeping a teaspoon of cilantro leaves in boiling water. The literature indicates that if one drinks a cup of cilantro tea daily, the mercury in one's blood and tissues would be removed in about a year.

Be sure to consult your physician before embarking on any type of treatment that I have described!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Carmegeddon in Los Angeles: Reflections on Driving the 405 from Woodland Hills to Santa Monica and beyond

California Route 405 as it winds through the
Sepulveda Pass

This past weekend of July 15 and 16, a 10 mile stretch of Route 405 was closed from San Fernando Valley down to Santa Monica on the west side of Los Angeles.

This was done in order to demolish a section of the north side of the Mulholland Drive Bridge, which is one of the overpasses slated to be rebuilt. This is part of the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project; a high occupancy vehicle lane is slated to be added.

There were predictions of a 'carmeggadon' in the LA Basin with approximately 500, 000 drivers scrambling for alternative routes to  get around.

No such event transpired. As a matter of fact, Los Angelino's heeded 3 months of warnings and refrained from using their cars.

The 72 mile freeway is arguably the most picturesque and busiest route in the country- especially the section that gradually climbs to the top of the Sepulveda Pass as it cuts through the Santa Monica Mountains.

I should know--in other words I drove this congested artery nearly on a daily basis.

 While living in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley in the mid-80's, I would commute to  Long Beach, Torrance and points south almost on a daily basis.

What vivid memories I have of the diurnal commute.

The weather would be always overcast in the valley (and later turn to smog as I entered the LA basin)

 I would start out fresh at 7-7:30 AM. and enter Route  101 at Topanga Canyon Blvd. and merge onto the 101 South. Traffic would be moving at about 20 MPH for  the 8 miles until I reached the ramp to enter the 405 South. At this point, I would merge into traffic moving even slower-perhaps 15 MPH.

I could not really appreciate the spectacular view of the Mountains and the Getty Museum as I would wind my way up to the Pass.  On most days it would take me about 1 hour to cover the 18 miles that would take me past Brentwood adjacent to Santa Monica.

The next leg on my journey was the 5 mile span of highway that would take me past Los Angeles Airport.  Well, all I can that by the time I would reach the Airport, I would be jumping up and down in my seat to keep my eyelids open.

Invariably, the combination of the heavy smog, the dismal bumper to bumper 5 MPH traffic, the monotony of the now 1.5 hour journey would lull me to sleep.

For some reason, the traffic would begin to flow faster (up to 30 mph) as I headed south to Torrance.

I would reach Torrance after a 2 hour journey--in time for a cup of coffee and a brisk walk--ready to start my day.
Image source (1)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shedding some light on Sidney Freund's abrupt resignation as Greenwich's Superintendent of Schools

I previously reported that both Stamford and Greenwich are finding it harder and harder to find competent administrators to run their respective Boards of Education--let alone retain them. ( Click here to see my recent blog on Major, Global, National and Local Stories of the first Six Months of 2011).

The dust is beginning to settle in Greenwich after the shocking and sudden (to most people)  May, 2011 resignation of short term Superintendent Sidney Freund; he served just short of two years into his 3 year contract and was reportedly in negotiations to renew his contract for the next 3 years. This competent administrator, who served a 6 year stint as Superintendent of Schools in Dobbs Ferry, has been relatively close- mouthed about the reasons for his decision.

A recent public meeting of the Board of Education was held and  tearful, emotional parents pleaded for Dr. Freund to rescind his decision-- all to no avail.  Some board members left their podium seats to hug Dr. Freund confessing and apologizing for their shortcomings.   (It was reported that Congressman Himes also met with him privately-- to no avail.) So, it seems that Greenwich is doomed to find its 5th candidate after the last fruitless 10 years.

Why is he leaving?

On one side, angry citizens are blaming two members of the 8 member Board of Education for making Dr. Freund's life unbearable. Its seems that hundreds if not thousands of (their) emails have been unanswered.

The rhetoric of disappointment, rage, anger and resentments has heated up the once, perhaps, civil discourse into an intolerable level-- where Dr. Freund and the Board were at cross purposes; instead of functioning harmoniously, the Board was itself divided into  'warring' groups.

Thanks to a reasoned column by Publisher Jack Moffly in the July issue of Greenwich Magazine, some measure of sanity and clarity may be brought to the extreme almost chaotic atmosphere that has been brewing for such a long period of time.

Here's a brief summary of  Moffly's research: The issue, it seems, revolved around the implementation of Dr. Freund's beloved International Baccalaureate (IB) program. into the Western Middle School (WMS) and into the High School. Two board members Marianna Ponns Cohen and Peter Scher had discovered that Dr. Freund had forged ahead with implementing the program into WMS and the 9th and 10th grades of the High School without formally getting the Board's approval or airing out the program in a public forum as was required.

It was discovered that Freund and BOE Chairman Steve Anderson had "pledged significant funds for teacher training, additional staff and teaching materials."

When confronted by repeated requests by Cohen and Scher to substantiate Board approval, Freund, according to Moffly, simply ignored them; this inaction merely placed more fuel on the fire and made these two whistle blowers 'scapegoats' for public ire.  In Moffley's opinion, Freund  "appeared unaccustomed to having his judgment challenged or to accepting the need to be accountable to the public and all members of the Board."

You may read Jack Moffly's comments "Behind the Freund Resignation" by clicking here.

I wish to thank the Greenwich Citizen, the Greenwich Post and the Greenwich Times (along with Jack Moffly)  for their in depth coverage of this story.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Major Global, National and Local Stories of the First Six Months of 2011

1. Osama Bin Ladin is hunted down and killed. Can his second in command al- Zawahiri fill his shoes?

2. The Pain mounts for our country's middle class citizens. The US and state governments' legislators refuse to rein in spending and pass new taxes. States such as Connecticut and California brace for massive layoffs and cut backs to essential services (e.g. transportation, garbage collection, police duties, etc)

3. Unions flex their muscles and are refusing to make concessions on extending retirement age, delaying and cutting back on pension benefits, etc. A notable exception is New Jersey where Governor Chris Christie was able to hammer down a deal exacting 'sacrifices' from both unions and teachers.

4. The Pain mounts for homeowners whose homes are worth less than their outstanding mortgages. Millions of Americans face foreclosure especially in Florida, Arizona and California. Homes are abandoned in many neighborhoods and many Americans are living in their cars and seeking homeless shelters--even in affluent counties such as Fairfield.

5. Foodbanks have swelled and multiplied all over the country. Safeway Stores in Northern California's affluent Marin County has prepared bags of basic foodstuffs that at $10 are being purchased by those that have for those that don't have. Hats off to Safeway!

6. Unemployment is a global blight as the young are protesting the lack of job opportunities in Britain and Europe.

7. The Arab Spring is a bright sign in countries such as Tunisia Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain as the smart phone/facebook generation takes to the streets and instantly uploads images and stories of revolution and changes. They want freedom. They want an absence of military state that brooks no dissension. They want their dignity, their humanity so long denied to the youth of the middle east.

8. Unfortunately, so many of these rebels are being cold-heartedly slaughtered in the thousands by repressive autocratic leaders in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Iran and Yemen. We in the United States are aghast at the lack of a global resolve to eliminate these tyrants holding on to the last vestiges of power.

9. The key question is when these dictators are deposed, as they inevitably will fall, what type of government will fill the vacuum. If Egypt is an example, the military will 'sweep ' into office establishing a disciplined spartan system that might just resemble the one that was replaced???!!

10. Your online information is more susceptible to hackers than ever before. As the cloud continues to clutter with personal data, you are more at risk than ever before because the 'booty' keeps mounting. Witness the attacks on Sony, Northrup Grumman, the US Senate, The CIA, PBS, etc.

And these are just the reported cases!

For goodness sake, if you live in East Hampton, NY, don't leave an unclaimed transaction receipt at the ATM window totalling $99, 864, 731.94 for all the world to see.

11. Educational leaders are harder and harder to find, let alone keep on the payroll.

Greenwich, CT has just lost its fourth Superintendent in 11 years as Sidney Freund submitted his resignation. Presumably he and a number of members of the Board of Education could not amicably share the power-- entrusted to them by the community of parents and students they serve--equitably and responsibly together.

Stamford lost Dr. Joshua Starr, its superintendent for the last 6 years, after he elected to depart to run the Montgomery County, Maryland school system; he will represent one of the country's most literate and highly educated group of parents and students. (I lived in Potomac, Maryland for a number of years and can attest to that fact!)

12. Rinderpest (literally, "cow plague"), a viral disease that has been a scourge for two millenia, has been eliminated.

It is only the second major global viral disease to be conquered (the other being smallpox).

It is thought to be one of the major reasons for speeding up the downfall of the Roman Empire, "aiding the conquests of Genghis Kahn and hindering those of Charlemagne opening the way for the French and Russian revolutions and subjugating East Africa to colonization. "
(Science Times 6/27/11. Click on Rinderpest above for full story)

What is so promising about this event is that perhaps we will see the total conquest of malaria in our lifetimes--especially with the tens of million of research dollars being poured into the cause by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International amongst others.