Posts Tagged ‘tamarack productions’

Francis Fukuyama “Political Order and Political Decay”

October 4, 2014

Political Order and Political Decay: From Industrialization to the Globalization of Democracy

By Francis Fukuyama

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014

The prolific political philosopher Francis Fukuyama has essayed again, this time with a weighty (in all respects) tome that outlines his understanding of political development in the west in the modern era. It’s the second and final installment of his treatise that began in 2011 with The Origins of Political Order.

The two-part series undertakes nothing less than an overview of the rise and fall of institutions of democratic accountability in western Europe, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States since the Industrial Revolution. In the current book, he picks up from the chronology of his inquiry in the first volume dealing with the governmental legacies of imperialist monarchies, the Enlightenment, and the important revolutions that took place before approximately 1800.

Fukuyama cut his scholarly teeth as an intellectual in sympathy with the so-called Reagan revolution that supposedly reasserted American dynamism and global significance following setbacks like the Viet Nam War. However, by the Iraq War he began to take some distance from the ideology and strategy of the George W. Bush administration — and a Republican party that he felt had lost its way. So, with the election of Barack Obama, Fukuyama had earned the uncomfortable distinction of facing criticism from America’s centrist and neo-conservative political thinkers alike. Perhaps such intellectual isolation fosters original work.

Fukuyama is famous, and in some eyes notorious, for the “end of history” theory that he first advanced in an article published by The National Interest in 1989. With Mikhail Gorbachev then championing perestroika and glasnost, and the Soviet system on the brink, Fukuyama posited that the imminent collapse of global communism, and the defeat of German fascism in the last half of the twentieth century, heralded humanity’s rejection of twentieth century grand schemes of social engineering and totalitarianism in preference for the ideals of liberal representative democracy. Fukuyama suggested that the world had taken Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini for a test drive, but opted for Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Locke and John Stuart Mill. His analysis elicited some very negative retorts; among many accusations, he was said to be blindly advocating a global system that privileged the USA and former imperial powers of ‘old Europe.’ Fukuyama insists that he was misunderstood, and accurately identified Hegel and Marx as originators of the ‘end of history’ analysis that describes inevitable (at least to the likes of Hegel and Marx) processes led by emerging bourgeois societies.

In Political Order and Political Decay, Fukuyama undertakes a further explanation — and perhaps a correction of sorts — of his post-Cold War argument. Its global scope is admirable, but the argument demonstrates its most evident strengths when Fukuyama focuses on the United States. (Born in Chicago, Fukuyama currently teaches at Stanford University.) In looking at the US, he advances some very unconventional thinking — at least for someone once considered to be an intellectual lion of the American right. Charting the historic role of a depoliticized civil service in fulfilling vital administrative tasks of government, Fukuyama makes useful comparisons between administrative institutions of government in countries influenced by either British parliamentary practice, or the American and French revolutions.

For instance, his analysis of the emergence of the US Forest Service, as an example of a body of professional bureaucrats at least temporarily decoupled from political expediency, patronage and lobbying, is fascinating and instructive. Also, his glance at attempts at railway regulation at the beginning of the twentieth century usefully foreshadows clumsy attempts in our own era to regulate telecommunication industries and the Internet. Fukuyama regards an independent bureaucracy — dedicated to serving all citizens — as a democratic bulwark. If he was once a Republican apologist, Fukuyama’s Republicanism goes back to the almost red Tory domestic policies and public duty of a Teddy Roosevelt. This ain’t no Tea Party.

Perhaps most thought provoking in his consideration of political decay in the US. He examines a system of checks and balances run amuck in which a surfeit of interest groups, lobbyists and lawyers create gridlock and stifle democracy while claiming to act in its name. His description of American “vetocracy” in which political actors, including the President, lack effectively representative (but reasonably constrained) decision-making power does not generate optimism in an age of climate change and Ebola outbreaks.

Francis Fukuyama is a contemporary political philosopher to be reckoned with. He has produced an intellectually valid yet readable work that draws on a myriad of examples — and a deep reading of his philosophical underpinnings. At times the book may suffer from being overly ambitious in its reach, but most readers, regardless of their political leanings, will find that Political Order and Political Decay challenges and provokes their thinking.

JAMES CULLINGHAM is a journalism professor at Seneca College in Toronto, and documentary film maker; his most recent film is In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey. James recently received his doctoral degree in history from York University, Toronto, with a thesis entitled “Scars of Empire: A Juxtaposition of Duncan Campbell Scott and Jacques Soustelle.”

This review first appeared in The Journal of Wild Culture.

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Toronto Mayoral Debate 04/09/14

September 5, 2014
Toronto Region Board of Trade and The Globe And Mail newspaper sponsored the latest Toronto mayoral candidate debate yesterday. I watched it live on-line.
A bit of context for Canadians not living  in Toronto and those outside Canada:  many of you know of our city in recent years primarily because of Mayor Rob Ford.  His misadventures are well chronicled elsewhere. For immediate purposes know this.  Ford, whose political career would have ended in disgrace months ago in many jurisdictions, remains mayor of Toronto albeit with curtailed powers. He is also a viable candidate for re-election.
As for yesterday’s debate:
John Tory, an experienced broadcaster-business person-politician, did well. It’s as if he’s suddenly on political steroids. Good to see him being energetic and (amazingly) funny.
Lamentably, Ford did well (again.) He has the corporate, right-wing populist thing down to a T-dot. He’s overtly ant-intellectual, aggressive and refers to himself in the 3rd person like a professional athlete. His approach will continue to work with significant numbers of the disaffected and angry. The good news is that he did not flat out win this debate as he had done previously (very evident to those who watched.)
Olivia Chow who gave up a seat in the Canadian parliament to seek election as mayor seems about to make herself an also ran. She thinks being nice will make her mayor. Odd because her late husband Jack Layton, NDP leader and briefly federal opposition leader before his untimely death in 2011, was, among many other things, a tough, but usually fair and rational, political street fighter of the first water. Like Layton, Chow had a previous  career in Toronto municipal politics, the milieu where the couple met and first worked together.
Entrepreneur and former city councillor David Soknacki is smart and well informed but irrelevant.  Someone should tell him acronyms are meaningless to most people.
So…unless Chow throws her support to Tory in the next few weeks, it could shape up to a tight two person race. Team Ford clearly wants and expects a duel with Tory. Who better to slander with their ‘elitist’ tag?
 A poll from earlier this week showing Tory with a substantial lead is one of a kind. If that’s a trend, good. However, most polls that I have seen show Tory leading Ford by 3-5 points – that’s almost a statistical tie.
Scariest ‘take away’ from yesterday’s debate: addiction, homophobia, serial lying and misogyny are not at issue. Only in fordlandia.
It says here Ford can still win because he can out campaign and out bully Tory from here to the finish line.

John Fahey documentary everywhere!

May 26, 2014

AVAILABLE AROUND THE PLANET!

As you might be aware, Tamarack Productions released In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey in 2012. I’m happy to report that the film is now available in various formats all over Planet Earth. This follows a fabulous Festival run in countries including Argentina, Australia, Denmark, France, Italy and throughout the Canada, the UK and the USA.

In Canada + USA on iTunes.

Download elsewhere from MusicFilmWeb

http://musicfilmweb.tv/film/in-search-of-blind-joe-death-the-saga-of-john-fahey

DVDs with EXTRAS First Run Features USA

http://firstrunfeatures.com/johnfaheydvd.html

VTape in Canada

http://www.vtape.org/video?vi=7781

Reviews

“If you didn’t already admire Fahey’s music, you may be searching for more of it after seeing this documentary.” -The New York Times

“”Excellent! Newcomers and fans alike will find a lot to treasure here.” -Film Journal

“Eclectic, haunting, engaging.” -The Village Voice

“As spare and intimate and engaging as some of Fahey’s finest recordings.” -Willamette Weekly

“Mesmerizing.” -This Week in New York

“In Search of Joe Blind Death is an admirable success. John Fahey, heavy-lidded eyes and Muppet-like voice, stays weird (and weirdly fascinating) throughout.” -Cinema Sentries

“The documentary casts a lingering spell, drawing you into its richly textured reveries with gorgeous new cinematography, archival footage, current-day storytellers and even artful animation.”-Blues Rag

“This guitar master combined folk, blues, avant-garde, and ambient music into an otherworldly style, inspiring everyone from Sonic Youth to Sufjan Stevens.” -Pitchfork

Follow us!

Twitter @JohnFaheyfilm

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Search-of-Blind-Joe-Death-The-Saga-of-John-Fahey/363977931483?ref=ts&fref=ts

Enjoy!

James Cullingham, director/producer

http://tamarackproductions.com/index.html

25 Years of Tamarack Productions 1989-2014

March 18, 2014

Greetings & Salutations from Toronto!

Pleased to let all know that 2014 marks 25 years for Tamarack Productions. The company began in 1989 to produce the documentary series As Long As The Rivers Flow about Aboriginal issues in Canada. Our current production In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey has been screened on four continents, aired on BBC and will be coming soon to iTunes.

It’s been a good trip so far! To mark our 25th anniversary, we introduce a new website. Thanks to Jamie Chirico of Toronto for her design chops.

http://tamarackproductions.com/index.html

 

Welcome to Super Bowl Week – Richard Sherman

January 28, 2014

“I don’t hate it enough not to love it.” So said a wag about professional football earlier in the 2013-2014 National Football League (NFL) season. The remark followed a barrage of stories about concussions and the news broke of murder charges against one time New England Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez. The statement well expresses the love/hate relationship the thinking NFL fan (such as this writer) has with the sport. It features many of the world’s greatest athletes in a brilliantly marketed display of imponderable skill and sometimes frightening violence. On the field and off its young stars often behave as rich, absurdly privileged athletes who put their health at stake for their livelihood are wont to do. It’s not always pretty.

The incidence of concussions and the severity of other injuries underscores a fundamental truth about the NFL: if you play, you will get hurt.  Those of us who watch the NFL regularly live with an uneasy contradiction. We enjoy a brutal game which can inflict permanent physical and mental damage on its participants.

The NFL is far and away America’s most popular professional sport. Major League Baseball still lays claim to the moniker of being “America’s pastime,” but audiences for the NFL swamp that of both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). In the United States, the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) are sideshows in comparison.

On the eve of Super Bowl week, one name has cut through all the noise and chatter about the NFL for football fan and non-football fan alike: Richard Sherman.

A week ago, Sherman made an extraordinarily athletic and exquisitely timed deflection to break up what would have been a last gasp, game-winning pass from the San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to his receiver Michael Crabtree. Watching that play in slow motion is like watching the athlete as Nureyev. With the game on the line, Sherman elevated himself far off the ground while running at full speed and artfully raised one hand to deflect the ball away from Crabtree and into the hands of Sherman’s teammate for a game winning interception. Sherman made a breathtakingly superb play. But the real drama was yet to come. Sherman, to use the vernacular, proceeded to go off on prime time TV. First he made a choke sign with his hands around his neck while glowering at Kaepernick the San Francisco star who had just been victimized – not by his own bad play, but by a superior one from Sherman. Sherman then visibly taunted a disconsolate Crabtree slapping him on the bum and screaming into the ear hole of his helmet. In return, Sherman received a poke in the face-mask from Crabtree. Sherman was penalized for his taunt, but with 22 seconds remaining on the clock, all his Seattle Seahawks needed to do was run out the clock to victory and a berth in the Super Bowl.

Things took a bizarre turn when the game ended. FOX television had angled to interview Sherman live on the field before the players returned to their dressing rooms. The play-by-play announcers introduced broadcaster Erin Andrews standing by in a mêlée of players, team officials and camera people with a dreadlocked, helmetless Sherman for his instant post-game comments. Instead of humbly thanking the lord and his teammates in the well rehearsed and terminally boring patter practised by many professional athletes, Sherman bellowed that he was the best defender in the NFL, that the 49ers were stupid to challenge him and that Crabtree was a chump who got what he deserved. A visibly shaken Ms. Andrews stepped back from the voluble Mr. Sherman and gave the spotlight back to the lads upstairs. It was extraordinary unscripted television. For what it’s worth, Sherman is African American. Ms. Andrews is Caucasian and considerably smaller. In their brief interview, Sherman appeared almost deranged, extremely angry, arrogant and, frankly, more than a little frightening. His appearance immediately sparked a firestorm in the Twittersphere and about 72 hours of blanket coverage in sports and news coverage across the United States, Canada and beyond.

Hours later Sherman penned “For Those Who Think I’m A Thug or Worse…” an article for si.com, the hugely popular Sports Illustrated website. Sherman has been an occasional si.com contributor throughout the season. A calm, reflective Sherman explained his actions as part of the heat of the game, “To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field—don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.” The next day, Sherman held court in a press conference. He was rational, articulate and basically non-contrite. In contrast to his outburst with the unfortunate Andrews, Sherman exhibited some warmth and considerable intelligence. In sum, this is one complex and often extremely media savvy dude. I suspect he will have the charm offensive in full gear on media day prior to the Super Bowl.

I say thanks to Richard Sherman. He gave us a pull-back-the-curtains-on-the-Wizard glimpse into the NFL. It’s a tough game played by very tough men. However distasteful his triumphal, adrenaline stoked, macho outburst to Andrews was, it’s refreshing that he did not merely fall on his sword afterward in a pathetic, well-rehearsed apology. Sherman said in effect, ‘it’s all part of the game, man – play on!’ By accounts of those who work with him, including Peter King, Sherman’s editor at si.com and a justifiably respected dean of football writers, Sherman actually is an exceptionally bright young man who happens to be a great football player.

Off the field, management of NFL teams, the players themselves and television networks generally manage to present an image of fine young men that’s often at odds with the realities of a brutal, extravagantly financed game. Not all its athletes are stellar citizens. Imagine that. Whatever Sherman’s crimes are, surely they pale in comparison to other events surrounding the NFL this season. The aforementioned Hernandez stands accused of murder. Days prior to the Seahawks’ victory over the 49ers, former star defensive back and broadcaster Darren Sharper was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of rape. Reports state that New Orleans police are also investigating Sharper for sexual assault.

Oliver Stone’s feature film Any Given Sunday as well as the feature and series Friday Night Lights from producer/director Peter Berg illuminate the realities of football as an essential aspect of deep America from dusty high school fields in Texas to the professional gridiron. In his recent outburst Richard Sherman gave us a strong dose of the raw reality behind the usual NFL marketing and spin.

– This article was originally published by The Journal of Wild Culture. –

http://www.wildculture.com/article/richard-sherman-being-himself/1357

 

In Search of Blind Joe Death – year in review

December 30, 2013

It’s been a wonderful year. In 2013 In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey screened in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, the United States and Uruguay.

The film was broadcast in Canada by Blue Ant Media networks AUX and HIFI and in the UK on BBC Four.

Thanks to audiences everywhere for their amazing support!

The fun resumes January 9, in Cagliari, Sardinia as part of a tour of Italy with screenings and live music which began in early December.

DVDs are available in Canada from VTape.org ; in the USA from FirstRunFeatures.com ; elsewhere please e-mail info.tamarack@rogers.com

For VOD outside Canada and the USA MusicFilmweb.com

from The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/in-search-of-blind-joe-death-documentary-spotlights-legendary-area-guitarist-john-fahey/2013/10/24/fd22e8b2-3cc8-11e3-b0e7-716179a2c2c7_story.html

The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/26/john-fahey-blues-folk-guitar-pioneer

http://www.johnfaheyfilm.com
Facebook http://on.fb.me/faheyfilm
Twitter @JohnFaheyfilm

John Fahey film opening in NYC 16/08/13

August 7, 2013
COME SEE OUR FILM IN NEW YORK CITY!!! “In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey” starts its American theatrical run at Cinema Village in Greenwich Village August 16-22. Our effort is twinned with a boffo film about guitarist Nels Cline.
If you’re in NYC, I hope to see you over the weekend of the 16th. If you’re not in those environs, please tell every living soul you know near NYC about it!!! If you’re aware of a potential USA booking, contact Paul Marchant paul@firstrunfeatures.com Please “friend” the page on Facebook http://on.fb.me/faheyfilm and Twitter away @JohnFaheyFilm Here’s the skinny on the USA release:

http://firstrunfeatures.com/guitarinnovators/

Ciao,

James Cullingham

director.producer,executive producer In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey

Tamarack Productions, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Planet Earth.

 

 

Blind Joe Death Goes Abroad

March 11, 2013

In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey, Tamarack Productions documentary film about the late American guitarist, composer, author and provocateur, continues to gain international attention. In April, the film will have its South American premiere at the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI) and will also screen at the Belfast Film Festival in Northern Ireland. Last month, it was shown at the Glasgow Film Festival.

In the summer, the film will screen in Madrid at the Transmissions Film and Music Festival; at La chaise (les tabourets) in Paris; and in Copenhagen at the Danish Film Institute/Cinematheque. It will also be featured at the Revelation Perth Film Festival in Australia. Additional screenings are anticipated in Australia.

This follows a string of screenings in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Blind Joe Death had its world premiere at Raindance Film Festival in London; its Canadian premiere at Vancouver International Film Festival; and the USA premiere at Mill Valley Film Festival near San Francisco. The film will be shown on BBC next autumn. In Canada, it will be broadcast by networks of Blue Ant Media. The film was produced with the creative participation of  the School of Creative Arts and Animation of Seneca College of Toronto

Fahey (1939-2001) is known as the godfather of American primitive guitar. His approach to blues, Brazilian, Appalachian, European classical, Gothic industrial ambiance and Indian music influenced many musicians including Pete Townshend of The Who, Joey Burns of Calexico and Chris Funk of The Decemberists who all appear in the film.

Canadian distribution: V Tape. USA: First Run Features. UK/Europe/Australia bookings: a better noise, Newcastle upon Tyne.

For further information contact:

James Cullingham director/producer

James.tamarack@rogers.com (416)312-1841

www.johnfaheyfilm.com

Facebook http://on.fb.me/faheyfilm

Twitter @JohnFaheyFilm

 

Best of 2012

December 22, 2012

This is somewhat random in that the following is restricted to what I saw and read. So while this is hardly an exhaustive selection, I suggest all these works merit our careful attention.

If you’ll indulge me further, here’s the best of what I saw or read in 2012:

Best feature film: “The Master”, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson; strong runner-up “Argo” ,dir. Ben Affleck (the new Clint Eastwood).

Best non-fiction film: “Cuates de Australia” dir, Everardo Gonz (“Drought” en inglés) – a documentary about a community in northern México besieged by drought and globalization; runner-up “The Law In These Parts” dir. Ra’anan Alexandrowicz – a courageous, intellectually rigorous film in which the director stages a devastatingly clever mock trial of the very Israeli jurists and military governors who have built ‘legal’ bulwarks to justify Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967.

Best Fiction Book: “War and Peace”, Leo Tolstoy. I finally read it this year. Having done so, I figure it would be the best novel any year since Leo coughed it up in 1869 except perhaps “Madame Bovary” or “Oliver Twist”. Tolstoy manages to describe the most intimate and sweeping epochal events of human experience simultaneously. He was a genius. His novel about Napoleon’s doomed invasion of Russia reads like an account of current events.

Best Non-Fiction book: “A Geography of Blood – Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape”, by Candace Savage. The sort of  history/geography/environmental study Canadians and Americans generally don’t want to know about told with great verve. In this case, people are reading it. Ms. Savage is winning awards. Her slim, powerful, elegantly written and researched effort is truly mind expanding.  “There are a lot of things nobody talks about in the imposition of colonial power.” -Keith Bell, companion of Candace Savage-

Robbie Roberston “how to become clairvoyant”

May 31, 2012

Overdue, but what the heck, good music always deserves a nod:

Regarding Robbie Robertson’s CD from last year, “how to become clairvoyant” – after a careful listening or six, what’s revealed, to me, at least: “When The Night Was Young” just might be his best post-Band song; “Tango for Django” is great. I wish he’d make an instrumental album! At the same time, it must be said that his singing throughout is often quite affecting, even just right. For those who grew up with the tremendous vocal solo work by his mates and harmonization in The Band, who knew? Finally, I’m delighted to report that Robertson finally nixed the gauze-like production value that mars some of his earlier solo work. I can hear his guitars!!!! Pick on Robbie, pick on!