Between Rhetoric & Reality

In a preview of the jobs speech he will deliver on Thursday to Congress, President Obama told a Labour Day rally in Detroit that there are numerous roads and bridges that need rebuilding in the U.S., and many construction workers available to “get dirty” and build them.

Obama stressed the city’s proud industrial heritage “where men clocked into factories” and one “that built the greatest middle class the world has ever known,” while recognizing that in recent years it had “been to heck and back.”

That’s why we chose Detroit as one of the cities that we’re helping revitalize in our “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative. We’re teaming up with everybody – mayors, local officials, you name it – boosting economic development, rebuilding your communities the best way, which is a way that involves you.

All well and good, but hardly congruent with reality…

If ever you want to see a vivid demonstration of the wealth inequality and racial divide in America, Detroit is the place to visit. Not 10 miles from the apocalyptic hellscapes of the inner city can be found the leafy all-white suburbs of historic Grosse Point…

It Felt Like a Kiss

And now for something completely different… This “documentary” by British filmmaker Adam Curtis is a story about America and how, starting in 1959, it set out not only to remake the world, but our lives and imaginations.

Writing in The Guardian back in 2009 when it debuted as part of a multimedia theatrical experience commissioned for the Manchester International Festival, Charlie Brooker described it this way:

…where his preceding works have occasionally been a touch eccentric, this one takes the piss. It is completely and utterly demented – in a positive way. I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense; if anything, it forges its own new brand of coherence whether you like it or not. This is a documentary running on alien software. I’m at a loss to describe it. For starters, the trademark Curtis voiceover has gone completely, replaced instead by occasional, simple captions. Music is at the forefront. Ominous soundscapes and bubblegum pop weave their way around the images: archive news, Hollywood movies. It’s hypnotic.

The film’s title comes from a Carole King song that describes how “he hit me and it felt like a kiss” and that was produced, eerily enough, by Phil Spector.