Monthly Archives: August 2006

the economy

He laughs and shakes his head again. “It doesn’t work that way. Their budget is based on how many people go through the headcount. That’s why none of those other DFACs will turn you away. You add to their headcount. You’re taking our money over to those other places. That’s what happened — when we first got here from Ft. Polk, the DFAC really did suck. It’s gotten better” — a couple of guys grunt in agreement — “but all of you guys got used to eating at the other DFACs, so all the money goes somewhere else. It’s economics, man.”

Another guy: “Yeah, it’s like a free market.”

“No,” I say, “in a free market they’d be closed.”

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general motors, in arizona, with the car-crusher

The strategy was obvious — build the car, but make it look like a business failure, and when the legal battle is over, make it disappear. Although it now appears (with gas at $3.20/gallon here in Tacoma) that the EV1 could eventually have been a business success, it was doomed from the beginning by corporate managers who (a) didn’t like being told what to do by a smog-obssessed state legislature and (b) would rather profit by selling you SUVs now than profit by being leaders in the electric car industry ten to fifteen years from now. Hell, they’ll probably all be retired by then, and you can’t count future successes on this year’s balance sheet. (Unless you’re Jeff Skilling.)

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days of being dumb

Clerks II is easily Kevin Smith’s best movie. I say easily because I knew it within ten or fifteen minutes, perhaps knew it even during the opening scenes of Randal (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O’Halloran) driving to work through a weedy New Jersey sprawl of burger joints to the tune of the Talking Heads’ “Nothing But Flowers.” Smith’s cheerful zinging of pop culture icons and philosophical hot-air balloons alike has always resembled David Byrne’s bongo-bopping, eco-baiting song, but until now he had nowhere near Byrne’s grace and wit.

Happily, after much experimentation (some quite excruciating), Smith has refined his technique to a lovely, mostly masterful level. If the original Clerks was a punk rock, DIY shot across the bow of the “art film” community, suggesting that one need have no grandiose purpose or obscure vision, but merely good friends and a small ego, to make watchable, even meaningful films — if so, then this movie is an adult’s admission that careful craft can be useful in purifying and strengthening even his kind of film.

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