Instant Karma Gonna Get You

News, politics and cartoons, previews of new Kubrick doc and box for John Lennon's first solo album, plus other music by Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell & Charlie Mingus, and Jason Isbell.

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News & Politics

Stephen Colbert: “It should not take nine minutes of damning video to get some accountability. There’s a reason the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t say, ‘With liberty and justice for all—who are being filmed on an iPhone.’”

The Onion: “FBI Says Chauvin Matches Profile Of Blue-Uniformed Killer Behind Hundreds More Unsolved Murders.”

Headline for Andy Borowitz “satire” at The New Yorker: “Republicans Blame Biden for Making Millions of Americans’ Arms Hurt.”

Historic Day: Word just out that President Biden plans on Saturday to finally, officially, announce that the U.S. declares that the killing of Armenians a century or so ago was indeed “genocide,” which is certain to anger guilty Turkey.

Blake Bailey, who has drawn so much publicity this month for his new Philip Roth bio, was in he news early yesterday when word emerged that he has now been dropped by his literary agency after claims of long-standing sex abuse and “grooming” of young students at a Louisiana middle school. Worse for him, later in the day, his publisher, W.W. Norton announced it would stop shipping his high-profile book. Much of the review coverage had focused on, in the words of Bailey, Roth’s “breathtaking tastelessness towards women.”

Then, last night, the NY Times pointed to a new charge, involving a claim of rape by a publishing executive who a few years ago spent the night after dinner at the home of one of the paper’s leading book reviewers, Dwight Garner. Bailey, another guest, allegedly assaulted her during the night. The woman told a friend about it and later contacted Norton, which forwarded her letter to Bailey, who then emailed her. There’s much more, all here. Last night, he called the claims against him “categorically false and libelous.”

Simon & Schuster, meanwhile, is standing by its two-book deal with former Vice President Pence despite an employee petition against it.

Union of Concerned Scientists: “Even with a 10% cut, the US defense budget will still be more than the next 8 eight countries' budgets put together. Without intervention, the Pentagon will spend an additional $1.2 trillion to rebuild every missile, bomber, submarine, and warhead in the US nuclear arsenal.”

If you can’t lick ‘em, jail ‘em: “Republicans in 34 states have introduced legislation to crack down on protestors,” as per NY Times. “They'd bar people from student loans & state aid, boost penalties for unlawful assembly and immunize drivers who strike protesters in the streets….Some are labeling them ‘anti-riot’ bills, conflating the right to peaceful protest with the rioting and looting that sometimes resulted from such protests.”

Samantha Bee makes the case for legalization of marijuana.

The Manhattan district attorney, meanwhile will stop prosecuting prostitution, part of a nationwide shift to change law enforcement of sex work. Manhattan joins Baltimore, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions that have declined to prosecute sex workers. D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. asked a judge to dismiss 914 open cases involving prostitution and unlicensed massage, some dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, along with 5,080 cases in which the charge was loitering for prostitution.

Another Round (female version): Since the start of pandemic, research has started to confirm that Americans — and women in particular — are indeed drinking more.

Say, if it ain’t Joe: Democrats in the Senate are so desperate to keep flagging hopes for D.C. statehood alive they are bringing in reviled former Sen. Joe Lieberman to lobby Republicans and balky Dems.

Trendy new phrase: Zoom Fatigue. Perhaps you can relate…

New Morning Consult poll: Nearly seven in 10 Americans support the president’s decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, vs. just 16% in opposed. Half of Republicans support the move. Forty-six percent support a carbon tax to limit greenhouse gas emissions, vs. 31% who oppose the idea. Statehood for D.C. gets a plurality but not majority of support.

Jack Shafer: “Will a Boycott Knock Tucker Off the Air? Don't Count on It.”

Facebook's independent Oversight Board will vote soon on whether to allow Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram.

Paging Jeffrey Toobin: A member of Canada’s House of Commons apologized on Wednesday for having taken a nude photo of one of his colleagues during a Zoom call, an episode that prompted mockery, anger and calls for an investigation after the image circulated widely on social media.

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Stanley Kubrick, in an uneven career, directed two of my ten all-time favorite movies, Paths of Glory and Dr. Strangelove. Now he “narrates” his life story in Kubrick By Kubrick which premieres at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Trailer below. Directed by Grégory Monro, the film features exclusive footage and interviews with Kubrick that span over 30 years.


John Lennon’s first solo album, Plastic Ono Band, co-produced by Phil Spector and released in December 1970, has been remixed, massively expanded, and annotated in a new package of six CDs, two Blu-ray discs and a hardcover book. It was produced by Yoko Ono. This box of multiple demos and takes and alt-takes includes singles from that period “Give Peace a Chance,” “Cold Turkey” and, below, the evolution of “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On).”

Born on this day in 1922: American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus. His final project was a collaboration with Joni Mitchell. Mingus died on January 5, 1979 aged 56. Here Joni performs one of the livelier cuts from her Mingus album.

On this date in 1966, The Troggs’ immortal “Wild Thing” (written by Chip Taylor) was released, and one hopes is still played in hundreds of garages or basements across America every day. I remember well the gimmick single a year later which featured a Sen. Robert Kennedy impersonator singing it on one side and a Sen. Everett Dirksen on the other. The Bobby one went to #20 on the Billboard chart. Here’s Tom Petty version live in the studio:

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Song Pick of the Day

Still one of the best songs of the past year, Jason Isbell’s “Overseas,” from his latest album, live.

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Greg Mitchell is the author of a dozen books, including the bestseller The Tunnels (on escapes under the Berlin Wall), the current The Beginning or the End (on MGM’s wild atomic bomb movie), and The Campaign of the Century (on Upton Sinclair’s left-wing race for governor of California), which was recently picked by the Wall St. Journal as one of five greatest books ever about an election. His new film, Atomic Cover-up, just had its world premiere and is drawing extraordinary acclaim. For nearly all of the 1970s he was the #2 editor at the legendary Crawdaddy. Later he served as longtime editor of Editor & Publisher magazine. He recently co-produced a film about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.