How the “P. Mercury” and “W. Week” shovel dung.

“My movies are fantasy — if you want reality, watch the six o’clock news!”

[Robber Rodriquass, thinking he’s “making sense,” in some interview I came across in the past year or two]
Mach Êté Is Angry.
And Awesome.

“JESUS-CHRIST,-Mach Êté!-You’re-a-fucking-shit-magnet!”-immigration-officer-Sartana-(Jessica-Alba)-shouts.-It’s-true.-Wherever-Mach Êté-(Danny-Trejo)-goes,-people-seem-to-lose-their-arms,-intestines,-and/or-heads;-just-by-following-the-geysers-of-blood-and-blasts-of-gore,-it’d-be-easy-to-track-his-sordid-trail-of-vengeance.-Gleefully-violent-and-giddily-hilarious,-Mach Êté—an-action-comedy-inspired-by-one-of-Robert-Rodriguez’s-fake-trailers-from-Grindhouse—is-utterly-content-in-its-role-as-a-bit-of-faux-exploitation.

If-you’ve-seen-the-fake-trailer,-you-get-the-joke:-The-hard-as-nails-Mach Êté-is-framed-for-a-botched-assassination-attempt-on-Texas-Senator-John-McLaughlin-(Robert-De-Niro),-a-“hardliner-against-wetbacks”-who-makes-speeches-and-campaign-ads-likening-the-influx-of-illegal-immigrants-to-both-terrorist-schemes-and-maggot-infestations.-(Mach Êté-is-cartoony-and-lighthearted-throughout,-but-it’s-remarkably-frank-about-the-current-craze-of-anti-immigrant-hysteria—no-matter-how-eeevil-McLaughlin-is-made-out-to-be,-he-never-seems-all-that-different-from-America’s-real-life-bigots.)-The-framed-Mach Êté,-pissed-off-and-righteous,-sets-out-for-vengeance—along-the-way,-he-gets-help-from-Alba’s-Sartana;-the-smokin’-hot-Luz-(Michelle-Rodriguez),-who-runs-a-support-network-for-illegal-immigrants-from-her-taco-truck;-his-priest-brother-(Cheech-Marin),-who-says-things-like,-“God-has-mercy.-I-don’t”;-and,-naturally,-Lindsay-Lohan.-Going-up-against-powerful-enemies—slimy-politician-Booth-(Jeff-Fahey),-a-samurai-sword-wielding-drug-lord-(Steven-Seagal-[YES!]),-and-a-vicious,-über-patriotic-Minuteman-(Don-Johnson)—Mach Êté-hacks-and-slashes-his-way-to-blood-soaked-justice,-happily-unconcerned-with-the-legality-thereof.

Balancing-out-all-its-action-with-satire-that’s-alternatingly-pointed-and-broad,-Mach Êté-delivers—by-the-time-we-witness-a-climactic-standoff-between-a-terrified-Minutemen-militia-and-a-phalanx-of-bumpin’-lowriders,-Mach Êté‘s-more-than-surpassed-its-goofy-origins.-Not-just-a-fake-trailer-blown-up-to-feature-length,-it’s-simply-one-of-the-year’s-funniest,-best-action-flicks.

[from the 9/02/10 P. Mercurant “review” of Mach Êté, the latest film by R. Rodriquass, featuring (of course!) several prominent Latino/Latina actors, who are only to happy to get roles that feature them in more than 2-3 min. screen time, not knowing . . . ]
Land of the free!

Capitalism [i.e.,as practiced, so far — ed.] has always required disposable populations in order to function.  In our system of global apartheid other people must toil in the fields and sweatshops, die in resource wars and watch as their countries are poisoned in order for us to enjoy comfortable, privileged lives.

As this reality becomes clearer I am alarmed by the hypocrisy of many of my contemporaries.  Young, educated and progressive, they are well informed about the world’s problems and sick over the endemic violence, oppression and environmental degradation that they see.

And so they march in protest, volunteer abroad, shop “green” and insist on drinking fair trade coffee.  But when the weekend comes and they let loose at parties, they see no contradiction in snorting cocaine, one of the most exploitative commodities on earth.

They do not seem to care that for coke to make its way up their American noses, Mexican heads must roll in the streets of Juárez.  Their indifference does not bode well for the rest of the country.

Decadence and a thirst for instant gratification fuel the insatiable demand for cocaine in the U.S., while hyper-individualism and a sense of entitlement allow private dealers to legally sell assault weapons with no questions asked and a complete disregard for where they end up.

The trickle-down effect of these attitudes is the unbridled brutality ravaging Mexico and the horrific deaths of tens of thousands of people over the last three and a half years.  We need to look in the mirror and recognize our own responsibility for the bloodbath next door.

The United States consumes 300 metric tons of cocaine a year, half of the world’s annual demand.  While it is produced in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, 90 percent of all cocaine that ends up in the U.S. passes through Mexico.

“The coca plant doesn’t grow on Mexican soil.  Mexico is merely the straw between the South American refineries and the gringo’s nose,” explains Alberto Giordano, the publisher of Narco News, an online newspaper that covers the war on drugs and Latin American social movements.

The annual profit made transporting cocaine through Mexico is estimated to be close to $10 billion dollars.  Seeking to erode the considerable influence they have held over Mexican society for decades, President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels when he took office in 2006.

Since then, however, Mexico has endured a nightmarish wave of unimaginable violence as the cartels — under pressure from the Mexican military — fight each other for control of the smuggling routes to the U.S. market.  With so much American money at stake there are no limits to the carnage plaguing Mexico.

Casualty levels are higher than many bitter civil wars as police, soldiers, politicians, judges, journalists and innocent bystanders are all kidnapped and killed on a daily basis.  Previously unimaginable atrocities, including massacres at rehab centers and preteen parties, now occur regularly.

In an attempt to intimidate and one-up each other the cartels often torture and execute rivals, throwing their severed heads onto barroom floors and city streets or hanging them from overpasses.  In an especially incomprehensible act, assassins removed a man’s face and stitched it onto a soccer ball.

Professor John Bailey, Director of the Mexican Project at Georgetown University, says, “It’s the cartels’ way of sending a message.  You could call it savage semiotics.”

While American indulgence creates the financial incentive for mass murder, Mexican poverty provides the willing participants.  Deprived of other opportunities, there is no shortage of individuals ready to take the lives of others.

“Murders are cheap in Mexico.  You can hire a sicario to kill you for $100,” Bailey says.

Bruce Bagley, an expert on narcotics trafficking at the University of Miami, explains what is driving Mexicans to kill:

“There are so many young men in Mexico with only partial socialization who want to move up.  These young men, often teenagers as young as 13, don’t see any real opportunities for themselves or their families.  They can either migrate illegally to the United States or they can choose the get rich quick, life is short, essentially meaningless path of the cartels.

“They don’t think they’re going to live long anyway, so they’re willing to use extreme, cruel violence to move up in the world.”

The death toll in the Mexican drug war officially surpassed 23,000 recently.  However, the real number is likely higher as many bodies disappear, often dissolved in vats of acid in a practice known as making “Mexican stew.”

Despite the violence Mexican society has somehow managed to stagger along while, Giordano believes, “Events like these would splat the psychology of many North Americans like melons off the back of a truck.”

The U.S. got a small taste of the trauma in March when three Americans linked to the consulate in Ciudad Juárez were murdered as they left a children’s birthday party.  It is no secret that it often takes an American death for the U.S. to notice bloodshed abroad and President Obama was indeed “Deeply saddened and outraged.”

But no mention was made of the fact that the victims were cut down with weapons likely purchased in the United States.  Mexico has some of the strictest gun control legislation in the world, making it almost impossible to buy a gun legally.

However, just across the border are the American states with the softest gun laws in the country.

The Mexican government seized more than 20,000 weapons from drug gangs in 2008 alone.  According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 90 percent of guns seized in Mexico and traced over the last five years came from the U.S.

Most are purchased from gun shows in Texas and Arizona where private dealers can legally sell military-style weapons without running a criminal background check or recording the buyer’s last name.

This unfettered individualism means assault rifles, armor-piercing handguns and .50-caliber sniper rifles are all easily obtained from the U.S. civilian gun market.

“Our laws allow us to carry guns around and that’s our sovereign decision.  But we have a responsibility to ensure that these weapons don’t harm other countries,” argues Bagley.

He believes that the gun lobby helps Americans absolve themselves.  “The American public doesn’t think about it.  The N.R.A. has done everything they can to dilute any sense of American responsibility.”

We need to ask ourselves how we reached this point of zero empathy for those hurt by our way of life.  Andrew McCann puts the issue this way:

“The idea of a population, caught on one side of a border, banished from ‘society’ and thus subject to a lethal violence exercised with apparent impunity, raises one of the most pressing questions: Under what circumstances, and through what structures of victimization and neglect, does a population become disposable — or killable?”

The war on drugs is undeniably lost and many people — including the former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil — argue that the key to ending the violence is to legalize narcotics in order to cut the cartels’ prfoits and remove the incentive for violence.

But we cannot deny our own culpability in the disaster down south.  There is nothing radical about indulging in a substance that directly kills impoverished people in the developing world.  We need a cultural revolution to re-evaluate our priorities and break the cycle of decadence and death.


[from the Sept./Oct. 2010 issue of Adbusters (#91: “The Revolution Issue”)]
My Shitty
He will skullfuck you full of anchor babies.

Between-Shin-Shitty,-Planet-Toilet-and-the-“Merry Yucky”-trilogy,-Robber-Rodriguass-hasn’t-been-too-concerned-with-making-statements—unless-that-statement-is-how-cool-it-looks-when-a-head-goes-“splat.”-So-it’s-surprising-when-My Shitty—arguably-Rodriguass’s-most-gleefully-trashy-and-violent-offering—literally-puts-bullets-in-the-hot-button-immigration-debate.

Clearly,-My Shitty‘s-tagline-applies-to-its-director.-Anti-immigration-blowhards-have-fucked-with-the-wrong-Mexican.

Inspired-by-the-fake-“Mexploitation”-trailer-Rodriguass-created-for-Craphouse,-My Shitty-is-a-kick-in-the-cojones-that-begins-with-multiple-decapitations-and-never-eases-up.-As-in-Craphouse,-Rodriguass-and-co-director-Ethan-Maniquis-are-paying-homage-to-trash-cinema,-only-this-time-it’s-less-of-a-masturbatory-geek-out-than-a-bloody,-goofy-riot-putting-the-innovation-in-evisceration.-Just-watch-our-hero-use-entrails-to-swing-like-Tarzan,-or-beat-a-guy’s-ass-with-a-weed-whacker-(“I’m-the-new-gardener,”-he-growls).




[from the 9/01/10 “incisive critical piece” on My Shitty, as published in Willamette’s Weak Links]

September 25, 1976
The place was an enormous cave called Infinity.  Probably the biggest indoor space I’ve ever been in.  Like the old gym at my high school, but with really high ceiling and everything wrapped in pulsing neon.  The way it was laid out it gave the impression of extending in every direction, limitless.  On the main floor were about five hundred people dancing to the loudest music I’ve ever heard.  The sound was like a vast molten sea and everyone was drowning in it.  The beat was so strong it shook my guts.

Jack wedged himself into the crowd, dancing with nobody in particular.  The throng swallowed him up and I lost him.  Lots of gays were there, dancing with each other.  But lots of women too.  (Lesbians?)  Everyone happy and wild.  People wearing cowboys hats, some in shimmery sequins, other folks naked from the waist up.  Dancing was all there was.  I timidly imitated Jack, and danced by myself, as if anyone could give a shit.  After I built up some confidence, I danced with women, sometimes with men.  But if I tried to talk to any of the women, they smiled deafly and danced away.

It was like everyone in the place was on a mission to dance themselves to death.  I caught the fever and didn’t want to stop either.  Any sense of time disappeared as one tempo flowed into the next.  Then someone handed me a tiny brown bottle of liquid and indicated that I should sniff it.  Before I could react to the strong chemical smell of the vapor, the room exploded like massive mirrors shattering.  The splinters spun into cyclones of color.  The walls fell away.

I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I was surfing on a kaleidoscopic euphoria swirling into oblivion.  My knees went weak.  My heart pounded.  My brain roared.  I tried to hang on to my senses, then realized that even if I did collapse the gut-thumping music was so powerful it would prop up my physical body.  I was safe!  Pretty soon I was reaching out for the little brown bottle whenever it passed by.

I got very fucked up.  But by dancing as hard as I could, I burnt the intoxication out of my veins.  I was high but in a totally physical way.  And even though I didn’t know one single soul in the whole magnificent place (besides Jack) I was an essential part of this gigantic endeavor, like a bee in a swarm.  The place was a hive and we were bees on speed going faster and faster and faster.

I got thirsty and went looking for Jack and found him upstairs in the middle of a vast mezzanine overlooking the dance floor.  He was lying on a kind of bed-couch with someone, a woman.  I approached him, all smiley and shit and then realized that Jack wasn’t just with this woman, he was actually having sex with this woman.  Right there in the middle of everything with people coming and going all around them.  No-one gave a shit.  Jack glanced at me sideways but kept pumping away.  He didn’t smile.

Later on, Jack came dancing up beside me.  The woman was gone.  He didn’t say anything about me seeing him flagrante delicto.  It was as if I had caught him eating a slice of pizza.  Not worth mentioning.  He disappeared a couple more times and then hours later shouting into my ear, “Time to go home.”


Suddenly I was back home crawling into the cool sheet of my bed.  I closed my eyes and then what seemed like two minutes later blasted out of bed raced off to work.  I had a surprisingly huge amount of energy all day.  Jonathan was sucking up to someone he thought was an important artist so he left me alone.  Jack called around five and asked if I wanted to “hit the beaches,” his expression for barhopping, but I told him I had already made plans.  Which was a lie.

About an hour later this woman came by Erehwon.  She was using one of the duplication video machines we own and as she squatted down to loop some tape onto a reel, she had an almost perfect bum, so I started up a conversation with her.  Turns out she’s really into Thomas Pynchon and I’ve been reading Gravity’s Rainbow so we’re seeing each other tomorrow on my day off.
“Despite a tumultuous shoot, sky-high expectations, and a then-unproven[*] director, James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) became a box office smash and a critical favorite. “  (Erect Hempprickson, The P. Mercury, 03/30/2011)

* Why, this is quite true — unless, of course, you count The Terminator (1984), which raises the question: are readers (1.) supposed to already know who James Cameron is (“obviously!”); (2.) have, somehow, never heard of him; or (3.) supposed to overlook your having to make any sense whatsoever — but not bother writing in & contradicting you, since . . . you’re not worth taking seriously?

WHEW!  That’s a lot to keep track of there, worthless male bitch, just so you can keep your (1.) salaried writing job, (2.) “perks” like free movies and (3.) ego/sense of self!

Why don’t ya, like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . consider getting yourself violently raped for money, as an alternate means of support?  (Just a “suggestion,” and all!  Sure you can take a “joke,” right?)
September 27, 1976
Day off for no particular reason.  That’s the way it is down in SoHo.  Downtowners are hippies.  Jonathan has decided he wants to go to New Orleans and he let me have a day off.

Been writing most of the day.  Trying to capture some of my impression of the city on paper.  The goal is to build a montage of layers, of images, one on top of another.  Voices, sounds, pictures.  Swirling around, jumping from one to the next.  Pynchon is a great inspiration.  Also Kerouac, of course.  They write cinematically.  That’s the way to do it, like cuts in a movie.  That’s what writing has to be in the future.  Undeniable.  Blazing.  Majestic.

The videos as Erehwon are an inspiration too, ironically.  They jam things together in a cool way.  There’s  word they use around here, “interface.”  The energy of the work is in the “interface and the frame.”  (Just finished reading Susan Sontag’s book of essays, Against Interpretation.)

I have to energize my writing, like the music over at Max’s Kansas City.  Like a machine gun.  Blam-blam-blam.  My writing must be lethal.  My words have to threaten.  Most writing is about what people are thinking.  Like something from another century.  It’s dead.  Real people don’t think, they talk and they act.  Without knowing why they talk and act.  Thoughts have nothing to do with anything.  Thoughts come after.  No-one in a movie has a thought.  You can’t see thoughts, why read about them?  Psychology is as dead as a Freudian cigar butt.

I have to experience life so I can know what I’m talking about when I write.  I have to dance and fuck and get high and see everything!  My life should be a rock concert and my writing an Altman documentary of that rock concert.  Make it dense and well made, but entertaining at the same time.  Like Shakespeare—entertain the royalty and the groundlings.  Is it possible?

There’s so much shit out there.  Why do I bother?  Kerouac ran into so much resistance.  All writers do.

Anyway, I am trying to write this short story about a guy and his pet cat.  He’s incapable of love with a human being but he’s in love with his cat.  Almost a sexual thing, but I don’t want to be clear about that.  Maybe he kills his next-door neighbor over the cat.  I don’t know, it’s not really working.
“Fresh from his obscene[*] performance in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Philip Seymour Hoffman . . . “  (A. Runty Mess, W. Week review of The Savages, the weekend it opened in PDX)

* Whoa whoa WHAT NOW?  Ob—scene?  That’s illegal, you know (yup: “obscenity” is still on the books.  It’s legally defined by “community standards,” but, that didn’t help Florida cartoonist Mike Diana any!  “Boiled Angel” got him locked up, put under house arrest, and barred from creating for a while!).

But still . . . WTF???

Oh, I see now: this “Google Search” reveals that you, sir, are — in fact of the matter — an enthusiast of the Rufus Wainwright tune “One Man Guy” (from the fine Poses album — I’m something of a “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” man myself!).  [And, yes, the blog has the picture of this silly, mixed-up, thirtysomething male bitch, so . . . yup, it’s him!]

I guess that explains the talk you gave (along with a few others) at the Bagdad Theater about your “nightmare dating problems” — you were talking ’bout the problems you kept having with your girl-friends!

BWAH-HAH-HAH!  Sort it out . . . bitch!

[NOTE: I’m just kidding, of course . . . fucker’s not 11, or 21, or something . . . it’s waytoo late for this soured-psyche’d poltroon!]

March 22, 1979
Elizabeth and I have spent the last five days together.  The most intense experience of my life.  I’m not sure I can describe it here.  I will have to write a story about it.  We’re talking on the phone every night.  This is the brilliant relationship I’ve always dreamed of.  We are both fully realized artists and we have each other and so we don’t just fuck each other’s bodies, we fuck each other’s minds.
The book is selling really well now.  Just got a check for at least three thousand dollars!  Blake is negotiating options on two stories to be made into movies.  And Leon makes sure I get to at least one party a week to meet people.  He’s introduced me to the writing of Paul Bowles and gave me a signed edition of Norman Mailer’s Advertisements for Myself.

Elizabeth insists I come out to L.A. at some point and spend some time with her there.  She’s going to buy a little place in Topanga Canyon.  (She has a huge movie coming out.)  She says I can write there.  P.S.  She loves Gravity’s Rainbow.

It’s all happening now.  Just not the way I expected it.

[from Eric Bogosian’s 2009 novel, Perforated Heart]



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