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Friday, October 24, 2014

Now We Take Berlin

Big news today for yours truly, as my proposal for my next book The Tunnels was purchased by great upstart company FilmNation for major film directed by one of my film heroes Paul Greengrass.  Just up at Variety.  Quite flattered by interest over past 10 days from several leading studios and A-list directors but very happy to be with Greengrass--I was one of early boosters of his Bloody Sunday back in 2002, and since--and producer Mark Gordon (who did Saving Private Ryan and so many others).  Amazing story of  young folks in the West who at unfathomable risk dug tunnels under the Berlin Wall in 1962 to bring out family and lovers and others--and now a wonderful chance to tell it on the page and on the screen.  The Variety description includes the key angle of CBS and NBC financing two key tunnels--but omits what happened then:  JFK at the White House trying to suppress the two network specials as nuclear tensions rose.

Special thanks to Brian Siberell and Michelle Weiner at CAA and my literary agent Gary Morris at the David Black Agency.  Yowza.  And great chance to work with my daughter, who lives in Berlin about a mile from the former path of the Wall.   My photo above of some of those who died trying to get over or under or around the Wall, at the Memorial on Bernauer Strausse (remnant of the Wall behind them).

Another School Shooting

This time in Marysville, near Seattle.  The usual confusion and conflicting accounts.  Latest seems to be:  shooter dead and one other student and anywhere from four to seven injured, although still "active" search.  But seems clear gunman is dead.  And that he turned gun on himself after walking up to table in cafeteria and firing.  Three of injured are critical.  I'll update but this is it for now.

UPDATELengthy account here.  Shooter ID.  Said to be good kid, from local Native American tribe, broke up with girlfriend this week.  She may have been targeted. 

Mixing Up the Medicine

As I noted last month, official release of "complete" Dylan/Band "basement tapes" finally coming in early November.  Some of us have had quality bootleg of near-complete 5-CD packages for quite a few years but this will add a few more tunes and in somewhat better sound.   They've been releasing single tracks--Dylan originals or covers-- to various sites for a few days.  Here's their version of John Lee Hooker's "Tupelo."    My photo of Big Pink at left.

Kubrick's First Film

A 15-minute short on boxer...Shot, directed, edited. 


Newsreel Footage on A-Bomb Aftermath Seized by U.S. 69 Years Ago

In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan in 1945, and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings. This included footage shot by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams. In addition, for many years, all but a handful of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited not only in the United States, but also in occupied Japan.

Meanwhile, the American public only got to see the same black and white images: a mushroom cloud, battered buildings, a devastated landscape. The true human costs–a full airing of the bomb’s effects on people –were kept hidden. The writer Mary McCarthy declared that Hiroshima had already fallen into “a hole in history.”  The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for 25 years, and the U.S. military film remained hidden for more than three decades. (The story is told in full in my book Atomic Cover-up.)

In fact, the Japanese footage might have disappeared forever if the newsreel team had not hidden one print from the Americans in a ceiling. The color U.S. military footage was not shown anywhere until the early 1980s, and has never been fully aired. It rests today at the National Archives in College Park, Md. When that footage finally emerged, I spoke with and corresponded with the man at the center of this drama: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Daniel A. McGovern, who directed the U.S. military film-makers in 1945-1946, managed the Japanese footage, and then kept watch on all of the top-secret material for decades.

McGovern observed that, "The main reason it was classified was...because of the horror, the devastation." I also met and interviewed one top member of his military crew, who had fought for years to get the footage aired widely in America, and interviewed some of the hibakusha who appear in the footage.  Those accounts form the center of Atomic Cover-Up.   You can read about that a view some of the color footage here.  But let's focus on tjhe Japanese newsreel footage for the moment.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the center of Hiroshima, killing at least 70,000 civilians instantly and perhaps 70,000 more in the months to follow. Three days later, it exploded another atomic bomb over Nagasaki, killing 40,000 immediately and dooming tens of thousands of others. Within days, Japan had surrendered, and the U.S. readied plans to occupy the defeated country -- and documenting the first atomic catastrophe. But the Japanese also wanted to study it.

Within days of the second atomic attack, officials at the Tokyo-based newsreel company Nippon Eigasha discussed shooting film in the two stricken cities. In early September, just after the Japanese surrender, and as the American occupation began, director Ito Sueo set off for Nagasaki. There his crew filmed the utter destruction near ground zero and scenes in hospitals of the badly burned and those suffering from the lingering effects of radiation. On Sept. 15, another crew headed for Hiroshima.

When the first rushes came back to Tokyo, Iwasaki Akira, the chief producer (and well-known film writer), felt "every frame burned into my brain," he later said. At this point, the American public knew little about human conditions and radiation effects in the atomic cities. Newspaper photographs of victims were non-existent, or censored. Life magazine would later observe that for years "the world...knew only the physical facts of atomic destruction."

On October 24, 1945, a Japanese cameraman in Nagasaki was ordered to stop shooting by an American military policeman. His film, and then the rest of the 26,000 feet of Nippon Eisasha footage, was confiscated by the U.S. General Headquarters (GHQ). An order soon arrived banning all further filming. At this point Lt. Daniel McGovern took charge.

In early September 1945, McGovern had become one of the first Americans to arrive in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was a director with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, organized by the Army the previous November to study the effects of the air campaign against Germany, and now Japan.

As he made plans to shoot the official American record, McGovern learned about the seizure of the Japanese footage. He felt it would be a waste to not take advantage of the newsreel footage, noting in a letter to his superiors that "the conditions under which it was taken will not be duplicated, until another atomic bomb is released under combat conditions." McGovern proposed hiring some of the Japanese crew to shoot more footage and edit and "caption" the material, so it would have "scientific value."

About the same time, McGovern was ordered by General Douglas MacArthur on January 1, 1946 to document the results of the U.S. air campaign in more than 20 Japanese cities. His crew would shoot exclusively in color film, Kodachrome and Technicolor, rarely used at the time even in Hollywood.

While all this was going on, the Japanese newsreel team was completing its work of editing and labeling their black and white footage into a rough cut of just under three hours. At this point, several members of the Japanese team took the courageous step of ordering from the lab a duplicate of the footage they had shot before the Americans took over the project. Director Ito later said: "The four of us agreed to be ready for 10 years of hard labor in case of being discovered." One incomplete, silent print would reside in a ceiling until the Occupation ended in 1952.

The negative of the finished Japanese film, nearly 15,000 feet of footage on 19 reels, was sent off to the U.S. in early May 1946. The Japanese were also ordered to include in this shipment all photographs and related material. The footage would be labeled SECRET and not emerge from the shadows for more than 20 years.

During this period, McGovern was looking after both the Japanese and the American footage. Fearful that the Japanese film might get lost forever in the military/government bureaucracy, he secretly made a 16 mm print and deposited it in the U.S. Air Force Central Film Depository at Wright-Patterson. There it remained out of sight, and generally out of mind.  On Sept. 12, 1967, the Air Force transferred the Japanese footage to the National Archives Audio Visual Branch in Washington, with the film "not to be released without approval of DOD (Department of Defense)."

Then, one morning in the summer of 1968, Erik Barnouw, author of landmark histories of film and broadcasting, opened his mail to discover a clipping from a Tokyo newspaper sent by a friend. It indicated that the U.S. had finally shipped to Japan a copy of black and white newsreel footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese had negotiated with the State Department for its return. From the Pentagon, Barnouw learned that the original nitrate film had been quietly turned over to the National Archives and went to take a look.

Soon Barnouw realized that, despite its marginal film quality, "enough of the footage was unforgettable in its implications, and historic in its importance, to warrant duplicating all of it," he later wrote. Attempting to create a subtle, quiet, even poetic, black and white film, he and his associates cut it from 160 to 16 minutes, with a montage of human effects clustered near the end for impact.

Barnouw arranged a screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and invited the press. A throng turned out and sat in respectful silence at its finish. "Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945" proved to be a sketchy but quite moving document of the aftermath of the bombing, captured in grainy but often startling black and white images: shadows of objects or people burned into walls, ruins of schools, miles of razed landscape viewed from the roof of a building.

 In the weeks ahead, however, none of the (then) three TV networks expressed interest in airing it. "Only NBC thought it might use the film," Barnouw later wrote, "if it could find a 'news hook.' We dared not speculate what kind of event this might call for." But then an article appeared in Parade magazine, and an editorial in the Boston Globe blasted the networks, saying that everyone in the country should see this film: "Television has brought the sight of war into America's sitting rooms from Vietnam. Surely it can find 16 minutes of prime time to show Americans what the first A-bombs, puny by today's weapons, did to people and property 25 years ago."

This at last pushed public television into the void. What was then called National Educational Television (NET) agreed to show the documentary on August 3, 1970, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of dropping the bomb. "I feel that classifying all of this filmed material was a misuse of the secrecy system since none of it had any military or national security aspect at all," Barnouw told me. "The reason must have been -- that if the public had seen it and Congressmen had seen it -- it would have been much harder to appropriate money for more bombs."

The Barnouw film first (below), then my trailer for my book on the color U.S. footage.

Wag Are the World

Maybe the White House will get on this to rally support for new war in Syria.  From the great "Wag the Dog."

New York Taking Ebola in Stride

So, Ryan Adams:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ebola and NYC Subway and Bowling Balls

Okay, there's one new possible Ebola victim in NYC (though test not confirmed), and people freaking over fact he rode the subway while sick.  So worth reviewing this from recent NYT "Well" column:
It is extremely unlikely to spread through public transit, for several reasons.
Not all viruses build up to infectious doses in all bodily fluids. For example, measles is coughed out because it first invades cells at the back of the throat, while H.I.V. is not. Norovirus is not a respiratory virus, but such small doses are needed to infect a person that aerosolized vomitus is thought to have sickened many cruise ship passengers. Normally, Ebola does not at first make victims cough or sneeze, although someone who also had the flu could, in theory, spray vomitus or blood. Once Ebola invades the lungs, the body will cough to clear them. But passengers that deathly ill are not likely to be on public transit.
According to the recent W.H.O. statement, high levels of Ebola virus in saliva are rare except in the sickest victims, and whole virus has never been found in sweat. The fluids known to build up high viral loads are blood, feces and vomit.
How much virus is needed to cause illness is not exactly known. Viruses differ that way. In any group that shares needles, hepatitis C will spread more readily than H.I.V. because smaller doses infect.
One tantalizing possibility is that very small doses of Ebola act as a vaccine. Scientists working in Gabon have found that more than 30 percent of the populations of some villages have Ebola antibodies, although they have never been sick or in contact with anyone who was. They may have swallowed some virus by eating infected bats or fruit contaminated with bat saliva. (Alternatively, said W. Ian Lipkin, a virus expert, they may have had an unknown virus that cross-reacted in antibody tests.)
No one has tested Ebola transmission on subways. But no case of transmission to a human from a dry surface has ever been confirmed. The C.D.C. has said there is “no epidemiological evidence” for transmission from hospital surfaces, including bed rails and door knobs – which are as close as a hospital room gets to having a subway pole and a bus handle. A 2007 study cited by C.D.C. experts shows that swabs of 31 surfaces — including bed frames, a spit bowl and a used stethoscope — in a very dangerous environment, an active Ebola ward in Uganda, — did not have virus in a single sample.
So how might Ebola be passed on a subway? If someone ejected bloody mucus or vomitus onto a subway pole, and the next passenger were to touch it while it was still wet and then, for some unimaginable reason, were to put those wet fingers into an eye or mouth instead of wiping them in disgust — then yes, it could happen. Similarly, if an extremely ill passenger with high viral saliva loads were to sneeze large, wet droplets directly into the mouth or eyes of another passenger, the infection might be passed. But the influenza route — sneeze to hand to pole to hand to eye — has never been known to happen and is considered extremely unlikely.
Africa is full of overcrowded public transport — buses, minivans and some trains. There are no known instances of transmission in those environments.
On July 20, a dying Liberian-American flew to Nigeria and was vomiting on the plane. All 200 people aboard were monitored; none fell ill.
 And update tonight:
Can you get Ebola from a bowling ball?
A. Although the surface of a shared bowling ball is a likely place to find germs — and some people avoid bowling for this very reason — it is extremely unlikely that Ebola could be passed that way.
There is no evidence that it has been passed, as colds or flu sometimes are, by touching surfaces that someone else touched after sneezing into their hand. Ebola is normally passed through contact with blood, vomit or diarrhea.
If someone left blood, vomit or feces on a bowling ball, and the next person to touch it did not even notice, and then put his fingers into his eyes, nose or mouth, it might be possible. But, the Ebola virus does not not normally build up to high levels in saliva or mucus until very late in the disease — several days after the initial fever sets in — and it is unlikely that someone that ill would have just gone bowling. Also, the Ebola virus is fragile and susceptible to drying out. It does not normally survive for more than a few hours on a hard, dry surface.

Pitt Stop

Brad sits down with Zach, between those two ferns.   Pitt plays a lot of Nazi killers because he looks like Hitler's Aryan dream?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flop Singles

What's your all-time favorite?   The Kinks had a bunch in late-60s, here's the greatest (along with "Days").  Below that, a Dylan single shortly after "Like a Rolling Stone" that I bought--and few others did.  Here done by Mr. Hendrix.

World Series Tribute

 My slightly adjusted photo from the old Shea Stadium, as Tom Glavine pitches:

Annie Lennox Slams Beyonce's 'Twerking' Feminism

In interview, one legendary singer, long known for feminist views and activism, critiques another who claims maybe a different form of feminism.  Last month Annie Lennox called Beyonce's type "feminism lite"--and now, specifically hitting her highly-sexualized and booty-exposing performances (over and over)  says "twerking is not feminism.  That's what I'm referring to. It's not—it's not liberating, it's not empowering. It's a sexual thing that you're doing on a stage; it doesn't empower you. That's my feeling about it.""
The reason why I've commented is because I think that this overt sexuality thrust—literally—at particular audiences, when very often performers have a very, very young audience, like 7 years older, I find it disturbing and I think its exploitative. It's troubling. I'm coming from a perspective of a woman that's had children.
In the previous interview she said referring to the trend beyond Beyonce:
I see a lot of it as them taking the word hostage and using it to promote themselves, but I don't think they necessarily represent wholeheartedly the depths of feminism - no, I don't. I think for many it's very convenient and it looks great and it looks radical, but I have some issues with it. I have issues with it. Of course I do. I think it's a cheap shot. I think what they do with it is cheap and ... yeah. What can I tell you? Sex always sell. And there's nothing wrong with sex selling, but it depends on your audience. If they're 7-year-old kids, I have issues with it. 

Gunfire in Ottawa

Here's brief new vid from Globe and Mail  showing intense gunfire inside Parliament building today.  Police now say 2 or 3 gunmen, still in lockdown, one soldier shot.

My Photo Blog

Haven't posted link for awhile, so here you go. Check back for daily additions.

When Brown Was the New Black

50 years ago this month, the fabled T.A.M.I. show produced conflict when James Brown objected to the Stones closing the show.  Mick has been interviewed this month around his new James Brown doc that he's co-produced and he claims he smoothed things over with King James before the show.  Hut! Good God! Here's Brown's set and then the Stones (including of the greatest rock n roll songs ever, Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now").  The recent Brown bio-pic from Hollywood had him coming off stage and saying to the Stones, "Welcome to America, boys." Mick denies he said that. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

15 Hits, No Errors?

My son, the hotshot young maker of game trailers for top companies, with latest teaser for upcoming hot game--with baseball theme to mark World Series.   First Person Batter?

Shearer Genius

First episode of Harry's Nixon "tribute" up today at YouTube.  I posted the preview awhile back.  My own acclaimed "Tricky Dick" book here.

Jill Feels Ill Over Ebola Coverage

I'm not a big Jill Abramson fan but I'm happy to link to her here as the former NYT editor uses the exact word I used earlier this week to describe media scare mongering over the Ebola un-crisis: "disgraceful."
Jill Abramson: It’s been, I think, disgraceful in many respects. I have to roll my eyes when, like today, I’m reading all these stories about “the panic.” Well, who helped cause the panic? I mean, please!
David Carr: When you say that, are you saying there is an overreaction, or there should be an overreaction?
JA: No, there is an overreaction.
DC: But people are scared.
JA: People are scared in part because of the ceaseless, ominous cable and other coverage, which stokes their fears. Two people are sick and one person has died. That’s what’s happened – in the United States. Obviously I’m not talking about coverage of the disease in West Africa. ….I’m talking about the coverage about, IT’S COMING HERE!

Guac's Up, Doc

Just coming across this amazing video from a year ago.  I love the extra touch at end--the poker chip/nacho chip breaks in half as he dips...

'So Wrong' Again?

New relevance, perhaps, for my book on how Bush--and the media--got us into Iraq and kept us there (for years), "So Wrong for So Long."  Preface by Bruce Springsteen.