Light about Altona, Hamburg, A working class neighborhood around 1955.
In her new book Forcing the Spring, investigative reporter Jo Becker tells the behind-the-scenes story of an important chapter in the fight for marriage equality. She embedded with the team that challenged Proposition 8 — the 2008 anti-gay marriage California ballot initiative that called for amending the state constitution to say that the state would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.
The strategy of going to the Supreme Court was controversial within the gay community. If the courts weren’t ready for the litigation it could’ve caused a huge set-back, upholding bans like Proposition 8 for years to come:
"The gay rights community had a strategy going in, they thought that they needed to have 30 states with some form of recognition — whether that be marriage, whether it be civil unions — but they wanted to have 30 states signed on before they went to the federal courts. What was really interesting to me is the echoes of the kind of similar debate that took place in the previous century over the civil rights fights that African Americans waged. There were people who thought, "You’re moving too fast! The courts aren’t ready!" back then."
photo via Huffington Post
Here’s Hari Kondabolu on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell in a segment he refers to in his recent interview on Fresh Air.
Kondabolu comments on the National Spelling Bee, or as he likes to call it, “the Indian Super Bowl.”
Fresh Air producer Ann Marie Baldonado checks in from the TriBeCa Film Festival:
Last night was a “Wait. Who wrote this movie again?” evening at the TriBeCa film festival, with some well known names writing outside the genres for which they are known.
Every Secret Thing is directed by Amy Berg, the Oscar nominated documentary film director (West of Memphis) who makes her fictional feature film debut here. More surprising though is the film’s writer— Nicole Holofcener, director of Please Give, Friends with Money, and last year’s excellent movie Enough Said. There aren’t struggles about privileged New Yorkers, rich Los Angelenos, or romantic love after divorce in this one. Every Little Thing follows the story of two teenage girls who are convicted of kidnapping and murdering a baby when they were children themselves. Now out of prison, they are again under suspicion when another girl goes missing in their town. The film has a great cast, including Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Elisabeth Banks, and relative new comer Danielle Macdonald.
Also premiering last night was In Your Eyes, a small supernatural-y romantic film written by big name Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers. It stars the lovely Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David as two lost people living across the country from each other who have an unexplained, psychic and psychological connection that disrupts their very different lives. Whedon didn’t direct this one, but it was put out by the small production company he started with his wife; it’s the same company that produced last year’s Joss directed Much Ado About Nothing, which starred almost everyone who has been in his other TV shows and movies. Okay, not really.
Whedon wasn’t physically present at last night’s premiere and Q & A, but they did play a video he recorded, in which he announced that the film that just premiered, In Your Eyes, was now available via VOD at inyoureyes.com. 5 bucks gets you a 72 hour rental. It will be interesting to see how this unconventional way of distributing a small independent film will pan out.
(Stills from Every Secret Thing and In Your Eyes, via TriBeCa)
Hillary Frank, wife of former Fresh Air producer Jonathan Menjivar (now with This American Life) has a podcast called Longest Shortest Time. Described as a “3:00 a.m. bedside companion for new parents,” The most recent episode focuses on natural birth:
This week on the Longest Shortest Time podcast, Hillary Frank confronts Ina May Gaskin, mother of the modern natural birth movement, over feeling betrayed by the empowering messages about unmedicated labor in her books. If you wanted a natural birth and didn’t get one, Ina May Gaskin is looking for your feedback as well. Here’s where you can tell your story or leave a comment: http://wp.me/p4bvGZ-15K
Before pursuing stand-up comedy full-time, Hari Kondabolu was a human rights activist. At first telling jokes was a cathartic release from the intense work he did with victims of hate crimes and workplace discrimination. In today’s interview he recounts how he began to incorporate aspects of his work into his comedy:
"I used to do a bit where I used to read the U.S. citizenship application onstage. I think that’s part of just being overeducated and wanting to do document analysis, but I’d actually bring it on stage and read questions. Because for people who don’t know, this is what immigrants have to go through to gain status in this country and it’s absurd and it’s something we take for granted as American citizens.
Sometimes that was hard in a club on a Friday night and it’s 10 o-clock and everyone’s drunk and there’s a dude on stage reading a form, it’s a strange thing to read a government form in front of a bunch of drunk people.”
Hari’s new comedy album is called Waiting for 2042.
Photo by Kyle Johnson
Have a nice weekend,
Edward Burtynsky Benidorm #1, Spain, 2010 Chromogenic Color print; printed 2013 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto Exhibitor : Howard Greenberg via atlantic cities
One of Amy Schumer’s comedy routines begins with the declaration, “I’m a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am.”
Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, now in its second season.
When Amy spoke with Terry Gross last year, she revealed why she’s so at ease talking about sex:
"I have a joke where I say, ‘Oh, I’m going to bring [my mom] to a soccer game because I want to show her what boundaries look like.’ I just grew up in a house where things weren’t that taboo to talk about. And my mom, when she was teaching us to say our different body parts, taught me how to say ‘vagina’ the same that she taught me how to say ‘ear.’I think she wanted us to be able to tell her if we were ever molested without being embarrassed — and so there wasn’t this sense of shame. And I was running around naked to an age that probably wasn’t appropriate and just never was made to feel embarrassed or shamed because of my body or think anything was wrong with me, probably to a fault."
David Edelstein reviews Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive:
Every so often a high-toned arthouse director dips a toe into the horror genre and the results are uplifting: You realize vampires and space aliens are subjects too rich to be the sole property of schlockmeisters. That’s the case with two new arty genre pictures: Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive — both slow, expressionist, non-narrative, the kind of films that drive some people crazy with boredom and put others in their thrall.
Our producer Ann Marie Baldonado is attending the TriBeCa Film Festival this weekend to watch some movies and scout some future guests. She says, “I seem to be picking my first films based on my love of many current sitcoms. Last night i saw the new film About Alex which starts Max Greenfield (Schmidt from The New Girl, among other things) Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Rec) and Jason Ritter. This current day, Big Chill-ish film about a group of college friends who get back together when one friend is in trouble, was written and directed by Jesse Zwick, (writer on Parenthood and son of Edward Zwick). Up later today, Alex of Venice, the directorial debut by Chris Messina (The Mindy Project, The Newsroom).
I guess I am also just picking films with “Alex” in the title.”
Today an avalanche on Mt. Everest killed 12 Nepalese Sherpas. According to The Guardian, the accident occurred while the Sherpas were fixing ropes for other climbers in an extremely dangerous ice fall area. Tourism ministry spokesman Mohan Krishna Sapkota says they were preparing the route for the climbing season that starts later this month.
Grayson Schaffer, senior editor for Outside Magazine, wrote an article last year called Disposable Man about the extreme risk Sherpas face and what little financial protection they have—for themselves and for their families—if they are injured, maimed or killed on the job.
"The thing to understand about the Sherpa workforce is that there’s no other tourism industry in the world that so frequently kills and maims its workers for the benefit of paying clients. And it’s something that people haven’t yet connected the dots on. That a 1 percent mortality rate for someone choosing to climb a mountain is acceptable, but a 1 percent mortality [rate] for the people that they rely on to get their stuff up the mountain as a workplace safety statistic is outrageous. …
If you’re a Western climber, you’re climbing the mountain once and you’re done. If you’re a Sherpa, you’re doing lap after lap after lap through this roulette wheel of hazards that we know has a death rate, long term, of 1.2 percent, and that number makes climbing Everest as a Sherpa more dangerous than working on a crab boat in Alaska. It makes it more dangerous than being an infantryman in the first four years of the Iraq War. The thing that hides that number is that the season is relatively short … and [has] a relatively small workforce.”
Photograph by Cory Richards, National Geographic
Writer/director Mike Judge spoke to Fresh Air’s Dave Davies about his new HBO series Silicon Valley and his 1999 cult classic, Office Space. In the interview he tells us about where the boss character’s tagline of “… yeah,” came from:
It wasn’t [based on] any specific person. It kind of came a few different ways. I worked at Whataburger which is a Texas-New Mexico chain, a burger place, and I worked at Jack-in-the-Box, this is when I was young. … The worst thing ever at both of those jobs is to change the fryers and the way that someone will say, “Yeah, um, Mike, why don’t you go ahead and change the fryers?” To say “go ahead” it’s like you were just chomping at the bit to go do it and I’m just gonna go cut you loose and go ahead — now it’s so common place. …
I think in the ’50s a boss would say “Hey Milton, move your desk. Thanks.” I don’t know if it’s the baby boom generation where everyone has to be cool, in the ’70s and ’80s it turned into, “Yeah … if I could get you just go ahead and move your desk,” And it’s this kind of “I’m casual, I’m cool. I’m not your ’50s boss.”
I would just prefer someone coming up and telling you what to do. I would respect that more. … Even over the years just noticing the “yeah” that means “no.” Like if you say, “Can I have Friday off?”
"Hmm … Yeah …"