INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (1970)

Movie Blurb

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970). Directed by Elio Petri, starring Gian Maria Volonte and Florinde Bolkan. This is a nice little piece of Italian surrealism. Kafkaesque and so direct. Beautifully photographed in Technicolor. The colors are muted but strong. Score by the inimitable Ennio Morricone, which I found bit quirky but, given the material works. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. .

A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime.

A little heavy hand politically but all satire is hyperbolic, that is what makes it satire

Highly rated and recommended.

Available on the Criterion Channel on Amazon Prime.

THE BRIDGES OF JEFFERSON COUNTY

Photo Essay

In the days of Coronavirus, during the lock down, my travel, like everyone else, was restricted. So, I stayed within the environs of my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is a pretty little town located along the banks of the Ohio River. It has been described by some as the gateway to the south. Mainly known for Churchill Downs and bourbon it has more than its fair share of pretty women and all the children are above average. In the mornings I would sometimes go down to the river and walk across the Big 4 Bridge and take pictures. This is what I saw.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is remembering to come back to the present moment.
  • Right mindfulness accepts everything without judging or reacting. It is inclusive and loving.
  • The practice is to find a way to sustain appropriate attention throughout the day.

The Seven Miracles of Mindfulness

  1. Be present
  2. Make the other present also
  3. Nourish the object of your attention
  4. Relieve the other’s suffering
  5. Looking deeply
  6. Understanding (the foundation of love).
  7. Transformation

The Four Establishments of Mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness of the body in the body
  2. Mindfulness of the feelings in the feelings
  3. Mindfulness of the mind in the mind
  4. Mindfulness of phenomena in phenomena (object of our mind)

Six Elements

  1. Earth
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Space
  6. Consciousness

If we observe these six elements inside us and around us, we see that we are not separate from the universe. This insight free us from the idea of birth and death.

  • Anxiety comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment.
  • Letting go is a practice that can bring us a lot of happiness.
  • What is essential is to be alive and present to all the wonders of life that are available.
  • Threefold training: precepts, concentration, and insight.
  • The practice of the precepts is the practice of Right Mindfulness. If we don’t practice the precepts, we are not practicing mindfulness. The heart of the Buddhist Meditation is the practice of mindfulness and mindfulness is the practice of the precepts.
  • Look deeply at your hand and see the Buddha Eye in it. The hand represents action and the eye represents insight and understanding.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

RIGHT THINKING

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Thinking

  • Thinking is the speech of the mind.
  • Right thinking leads to Right Action.
  • When we concentrate on our breathing, we bring body and mind back together and become whole.
  • Mindful breathing helps us stop being preoccupied by sorrows of the past and anxieties of the future. It helps us to be in touch with life in the present moment.

Four Practices Related to Right Thinking

  1. Are you sure?
  2. What am I doing?
  3. Hello habit energy.
  4. Bodhichitta – Mind of love.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

BLACK LIVES MATTER

No Justice No Peace

Black Lives Matter. All lives matter is frequently clapped back. All lives most certainly do matter. Emphatically, unquestionably, indubitably. But right now, we are focused on the Black Lives lost and the injustice that has been visited upon the black community for 400 years. We are focused on the lives lost by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arberry, and many more. There have been protests in the street for weeks across the nation against police brutality and the extrajudicious killings of black folk and white folk alike. Here, in a photo essay are some of the expressions of the protests and the outrage. All pictures were taken by me in Louisville, Kentucky where Breonna Taylor was gunned down in her own apartment by police who executed a “no knock warrant.” One of the officers who participated in the raid has been fired. No one has been charged. There still is no justice for Breonna.

Sunday Morning

On this beautiful Sunday morning

yellow sunshine coming down

all the beautiful girls in town

walking their dogs

Their long legs in their short shorts

shimmer in the sunlight.   

Da 5 Bloods

Movie Blurb

Directed by Spike Lee, starring Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, and Clarke Peters.

I am a Spike Lee fan, but you got to admit the brother is a little hit or miss. Coming off the success of BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods is a miss. And it’s mess. Which is very disappointing considering the material he was working with and the timeliness of his subject. Other directors have taken on the Vietnam experience and other directors have done a better job. The one saving grace is Delroy Lindo who is a terrific character actor and lights up the screen in every scene he is in. Even when he is chewing the scenery.

The movie suffers from poor writing and mediocre directing. Spike throws everything he has into this movie including the kitchen sink. Part Treasure of the Sierra Madre and part Apocalypse Now, it never does find its own footing. Except for when one of the Bloods makes a fatal misstep. That was quite a heartstopper and a show stopper as well. The shootout at the end was well staged I thought and executed very well. The photography was well done but you got to ask yourself, why did he need four different aspect ratios? Oh, I get it. He wanted to demark different times and places. An artistic decision as it were. Well, it didn’t work for me, just made the whole thing more confusing. And in the flash backs it was impossible to distinguish the younger version of Da Bloods from the present-day version of themselves.

If you are going to steal, steal from the best, just use a little finesse when you do it and don’t make it so obvious. When the leader of a group of Vietnamese marauders are asked by a member of Da Bloods, “Where are your official badges?” The answer comes back from the leader, “Badges? We don’t’ need no stinking badges!” In another scene, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries accompanies the action.

This might sound like a pan but not totally. I’m going to give the brother a 6 on a 10. Better luck next time Spike.

Right View

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right View

  • Right view is deep understanding of the Four Noble Truths
  • Where there is perception there is deception
  • Most of our suffering comes from wrong perceptions
  • It is impossible to have a subject without an object
  • Right view is the insight we have into the reality of life; a living insight that fills us with understanding, peace, and love.
  • The instrument for watering wholesome seeds inside of us is mindful living – mindful breathing, mindful walking, living each moment of our day in mindfulness.
  • Your conception or perception of reality is not reality.
  • To practice is to go beyond ideas, so you can arrive at the suchness of things. “No idea” is the path of non-conception. “No idea” means no wrong idea, no wrong conception.
  • Buddhism is a practice to hep us eliminate wrong views.
  • Right View is sometimes called the mother of all Buddhas, the energy of love and understanding that has the power to free us. When we practice mindful living our Right View will blossom.
  • Right View is both a cause and an effect of all other elements of the path.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

Police Reform

From the Desk of the Editor

There are a lot of ideas out there regarding police reform. I am no policy expert nor do I hold myself out to be one. But you don’t need to be an expert to know that the way we are being policed now doesn’t work and it is in desperate need of reform. Here are a few ideas that I have researched and a few ideas of my own. First and foremost, I think the whole idea of policing needs to be reimagined and reframed. We don’t need to send a man with a gun for every single social infraction. We need to limit contact with the police except for the most serious and dangerous of crimes. Most things the police handle now can be handled by a social worker. Speeders on the freeway can be handled by technology. Every time a cop pulls someone over for a broken tail light a life-threatening situation is engendered. This is completely needless. So, less contact with the public.

My friend Jenny Bean made the following contribution on a FB thread in a discussion of these matters: Instead of police responding to instances of intoxication/substance abuse or mental health crises where a weapon is not being wielded, we could have counselors and medical personnel trained in de-escalation techniques as well as the proper resources to offer on-going help after the fact. Another point to consider, nurses subdue unruly patients on a regular basis, and they do it without killing anyone.

In Eugene, Oregon, an organization called CAHOOTS was started in 1989. Twenty years later, they handle almost 20% of the area’s public safety calls, including those for mental health crises and public intoxication. They also respond to de-escalate personal disputes.

Some have called for defunding the police. What does this mean? It means different things to different people. It is pretty much just a slogan. But basically, what it means is we want to demilitarize the police and divert money to much needed social programs. It could mean the reduction of officers. As previously stated, a lot of the work they do could be handled by social workers.

Some police departments are so bad they may need to be dismantled and started over from scratch. The Minneapolis City Council has just voted to dismantle their Police Department and reconstitute it. They will spend the next year talking about what that will look like. Camden, New Jersey, a city I am most familiar with, shut down its police department and started over again seven years ago. Before the shutdown it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in America. After it was rebuilt crime rate dropped 50% and complaints against the police dropped 95%.

The mindset of police officers must be changed from a Warrior mindset to a Guardian mindset. Focus should be on a community-based serve and protect model. The cops have to stop looking at civilians as enemies.

Hiring practices. Cops should be licensed and have a four-year degree in criminal justice. They should not be hired if they have previous disciplinary action on their records for brutality against citizens. Psychological profiles should be performed to make each candidate is suitable for the type of work required of a police officer. Candidates should be screened for innate bias against people of color. There should be standardized, intensive, and expanded training. Choke holds must be banned. There should be civilians on review boards.

Cops must be held accountable for wrong doing and misconduct. End qualified immunity. As it stands now it is practically impossible to prosecute and convict cops of wrong doing because of qualified immunity, police unions, collective bargaining agreements, and legal immunity. This must change.

There should be stronger protection under the 4th amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Citizens should be secure in their homes, their property and in their cars.

Other ideas

  • Duty of police officers to intervene and to report
  • Body cams for all police officers
  • National Registry for police misconduct
  • Screen for innate bias against people of color.
  • End “no knock warrants”

Kamal Harris just introduced a Justice in Policing Act which covers the following points

  • Set a national standard for use of force
  • Expand independent investigation into police misconduct.
  • Establish a national police misconduct registry
  • Require states to report use of force incidents
  • Ban “no-knock” warrants in drug cases.

Police must be held accountable for use of excessive force, brutality, and extra judicial killings.

We don’t want a militarized police force, nor do we want to live in a police state.