Bad Weeds : David Prudhomme’s Rébétiko

Released 2010, David Prudhomme’s critically acclaimed, award-winning Rébétiko (la mauvaise herbe) is a celebration of the early 20th-century Greek tradition of urban music later united under that umbrella term. The story takes place over the course of a day in Athens, October 1936, a few months into the military regime of Ioannis Metaxas. It follows the actions of four musicians, all of whom are based on actual legends of rebetiko.

Time Travelling

After almost a decade of living abroad, I’m now back in my home city, Copenhagen. So much has changed through the boom-and-bust years that I was away, and although I’ve of course visited regularly along the way, living here again brings it home. I stepped out for nine years and suddenly every major street has acquired the obligatory set of gleaming juice bars with a barista fetish in a seeming effort to look like any other capital city in Europe. Plus rent has shot through the roof.

Much has stayed the same, of course, and Copenhagen is Copenhagen, but I find myself a little out of the loop on a lot of mundane knowledge — going about installing ourselves here has been really interesting and somewhat baffling. Poignantly however, I arrived here at the day of our general election where the Danes finally — and by the slimmest of majorities — got rid of the increasingly fatigued and dysfunctional right-wing coalition that has steered the country toward greater prosperity, militarization and dispassion through the boom years. The replacement, an uneasy center-left conglomeration headed by Denmark’s first female prime minister, has now been in negotiations for a week and a half. We’ll see what they can do, but let’s just say that so far most of the people involved haven’t been all that impressive. Still, we need a change.

And it’s good to be home.

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Rory Stewart on Libya. Comparisons with Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq perhaps help explain the relatively orderly and peaceful aftermath in post-revolutionary Libya.
  • Laura Hudson on the mainstream comics industry’s moronic sexism as manifested predictably, but egregiously in DC’s misguided “relaunch.” The must-read article on this latest low in American comics publishing.
  • The Johnny Ryan interview. Excellent and candid interview with one of comics’ prime humorists in the lengthy but engrossing Comics Journal tradition.
  • Joshua Allen Harris’ plastic bag sculptures (above). I’ve hyped them before and I’m doing it again. They’re amazing.
  • T.R.O.Y.

    “The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”

    — Troy Davis’ last words to his supporters.

    Mark MacPhail RIP
    Troy Davis RIP
    American justice system DOA?

    Troy Davis May Be Executed Today

    The state of Georgia is about to follow through on another gross potential miscarriage of justice today as it plans to execute Troy Davis. Convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer, Mark McPhail, the majority of the prosecution witnesses have since recanted their depositions, but the conviction has been upheld by the state, which has consistently refused a retrial and yesterday denied a last-ditch effort to obtain clemency for Davis.

    As I’ve written about here before, this is not a singular case. There are many such dubious convictions, primarily of minority individuals, who consequently have served long prison terms and face the ultimate punishment for crimes they may well not have committed. The establishment seems to have a blindsided trust in the infallibility of an American justice system, which refuses to consider that it might be at fault, even when presented with evidence that overwhelmingly suggests that they may be about to kill an innocent man. That so many Americans continue passionately to defend the death penalty (some going as far as cheering Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry for the number of people he has killed), only makes the situation more chilling.

    Please consider the case (Davis’ Wikipedia entry has the basics and there’s more here), but don’t spent too long: join Bishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter and thousands of others and go and sign the petition to grant Davis clemency before it’s too late.

    UPDATE: Read the New York Times editorial on the execution “A Grievous Wrong.” An excellent summary.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Commentary on the Danish election. In my reading on this historic election and the uncertainty it promises for Danish politics, I’ve enjoyed the commentary by Anne Knudsen and Rune Lykkeberg (both in Danish).
  • Austin English interviews Warren Craghead. This interview with one of the most original and aesthetically provocative contemporary cartoonists, conducted by a sensitive interviewer, went up on The Comics Journal the week before last, but if you haven’t read it yet, here’s a reminder to do so.
  • Frank Rich and Adam Moss on Ron Suskind’s upcoming book on the Obama administration and its policy failures. A short conversation that whets the appetite for the book and accentuates one’s pessimism about the people presently in the White House. While arguably little more than a puff piece, it involves two smart observers making smart comments.