May 20, 2014

'Let the Fire Burn'--Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

Watch The Philosophy of MOVE on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

"Let the Fire Burn" had one of the shortest runs of any of the Independent Lens documentaries that I have watched on Kansas City's local PBS station, KCPT. 

The film sheds light on the May 13, 1985 destruction of 61 homes (let me say that again--61 homes) that resulted in the tragic deaths of 11 people, including five children! It was discovered that authorities decided to “…let the fire burn” after Philadelphia police dropped military-grade explosives onto the MOVE-occupied rowhouse in that neighborhood.   

Coverage of the hearings following the massacre are equally tragic and telling of the pure, unadulterated racial hatred that fostered the killings--bone chilling, even for those for whom this film is a mirror up to their own, though perhaps private, animosities.  

I called the station to find out why the film was aired only a couple of times in its first month of showing, and why the film could not be accessed on KCPT's website even though the link to the film says "view full episode."  

Well, that was yesterday. Today, the link has been removed altogether. 

Yesterday, the head of KCPT's online content (I don't recall her exact title) told me that the film did not load because "they probably didn't have rights to either the film or parts of the film."   


Who is "they" and how could KCPT possibly air the film in the first place if the proper rights had not been secured by "those people" before airing it?   

If you were unable to catch "Let the Fire Burn" while it was on *public television*, it is now accessible behind the gate of Netflix. SMDH   

But, never fear, you can still watch the Jayson Blair story on KCPT. In that film, racial stereotypes (both white and black) are maintained and perpetuated.   

Repeating specific stories influences public perception in a specific direction. Limiting access limits knowledge and understanding.   

Though I enjoy much of the programing on public television, and KCPT in particular, I will not bite my tongue regarding their participation in the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and pubic ignorance to appease particular audiences.  

There, I said it. 

May 1, 2014

Works of Art

Works of Art
Z. Hall

Amalgams of disparate fragments
drawn together
at times
gentle as Spring's rain on a daisy petal
violently like lava spewed from St. Helen
often, randomly
fusing with entities
expressions fleeting and concrete
memories forgotten.

We are
of art.

Self-Portrait as Orpheus and Eurydice

Linda Rodriguez
Linda Rodriguez is the author of three novels and two books of poetry. Her first novel, "Every Last Secret," won the Malice Domestic Competition. Her second novel, "Every Broken Trust," was a Las Comadres National Latino Book Club selection. Linda's latest novel, "Every Hidden Fear," will be published by St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne Books on May 5, 2014. Linda is president of the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, the genre of her novels.

Heart's Migration (2010 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence) and Skin Hunger are Linda's books of poetry. She is a recipient of the Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award and the Midwest Voices and Visions Award. 

Self-Portrait as Orpheus and Eurydice
Linda Rodriguez

Image provided by Linda Rodriguez

Knowing his music was empty without her,
he had to dive into those dark waters
from which none returned except as flotsam,
crustacean-nibbled and bloated with the gases of decay.
How long he hesitated, songless but safe,
on the bank. She watched him decide
through the eternal minutes of her dreading
that he could decide
to abandon the notes shimmering in the air
around his head, ignore that nimbus of power
from beauty, and walk mute
through an ordinary life. She waited in fear
until he threw himself into the waves and sank
without struggle.

Almost out, he could feel her behind him
like an insistent melody pushing through his fingers
to reach the strings. He was so full of the moment,
his greatest song, bringing her back.
Such power—who knew what he could do?
He wanted to see the wonder in her eyes,
needed the perfect last note,
pure and silvery and light as bone,
the end of sound.

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

April 13, 2014


Z. Hall

Water falls in drops
turning on bulbs
in Spring

Rollin’ off rooftops
give drink to thirsty shrubs
they sing

Plunging down spouts
the tulip tiger cub
rises from Winter’s grave as king

Image credit: Unknown

April 10, 2014

Time and Space in Our Digitized World

"You have exceeded your character limit by 3 characters."

"Maximum word count is 150."

"Your character limit is 125 including spaces."

We live in an era of expanded reach and compressed thought. Our ideas and communication can go out to hundreds, millions. But, often, the allowable space to express them is reduced to a degree that, for example, letter writing and face-to-face communication does not impose. Does this have implications for the quality of our interactions? If so, how so?

Lately, I have noticed that my son has established what I call a toleration ceiling for the amount of time that can be spent talking about a given topic. His new modus operandi stands out against his innate sociability. It occurred to me that the push to compress our ideas for social media purposes is having an affect on the patience that is missing in face-to-face conversations nowadays. I shared this with my son and he, of course, chalked up my observation to me being, in his estimation, ol' school when it comes to technology. Shaking my head. When's the last time you saw that phrase written out completely? Laughing out loud!

Needless to say, I was excited to hear a story on 'Here & Now' about the affect that online reading has on our reading comprehension. The story covers the possible outcomes of skimming and scanning information online on the deep reading of challenging texts. The story is about the consumption of information. But it occurs to me that the socially mediated expectation of compressed thought is affecting face-to-face and other forms of non-digital communication in a similar way that skimming and scanning is affecting reading comprehension.

People are less patient with the expression of nuanced thought because we spend a great deal of time in digitized spaces that impose spacial limitations on idea development. In face-to-face conversation, the unspoken expectation is that we skim and scan our thoughts and share them in a condensed format. The tolerance ceiling for nuances is low.

I am glad that Maryanne Wolf wrote about online skimming and reading comprehension. The interview by Robin Young contributes to thinking in a more nuanced way about the broader issues of thought expression, comprehension, and expectations in a digitized world.


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