Am re-posting our bankruptcy-law analysis of the Detroit bankruptcy. Updating it, too.

The issue of pension obligations has come to dominate the bigger picture of this bankruptcy. it shouldn’t, for the reasons given in this article. Pensioners will be treated as a separate creditor class, one whose vote to approve any reorganization plan must be given, or the plan cannot be confirmed by the Court.

There is also now a campaign going on to elect a new Mayor, as current mayor Dave Bing declined to run again. Much is being made of the new Mayor’s lack of authority over a city being run by a court-appointed manager. The much being made is beside the point.The campaign raises all sorts of vital issues ; the future of the city — toward what goal or goals / who will be involved / How long will it take ? what about race relations inside the city ? crime ?  schools ? Businesses and zoning ?

All of these will be discussed by the City;s voters, and when, eventually, the mayor to be elected does take control — and that will happen once the City gets its reorganization plan conformed by the court — the discussions and decisions made in this Mayor campaign will ground whatever city will be built thereupon.

Game on. Let the politics begin.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere


Here and Sphere


^ Detroit : on the move at Movement

Three weeks ago Here and Sphere published Susan Domitrz-Sapienza’s extensively researched story on the comeback of Detroit. As she noted, the economy of “Automobile City” had already reached its bottom and was — and is now — expanding along several lines newly established. The decision of the city’s state-appointed manager to file a Chapter 9 (Municipal) bankruptcy petition would seem, at first, to contradict our reporter’s finding. In fact, the Chapter 9 filing conforms our reporter’s conclusion.

To learn why, one needs to know a bit more about bankruptcy law than the common perception. Most people think of the word “bankruptcy” as the end, a kind of giving up the ghost. This perception is false. There are two kinds of bankruptcy cases. The one that most people think of is “liquidation,” in a liquidation, yes: the petitioner is in fact giving up…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : Indie DIY – Two Far-flung Visions on the Cheap

^ young dalliance : Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman

For the second time this summer we find Michael Cera behaving badly in a bathroom. In “This is the End” he was effete and self-centered as he was orally pleasured by two nubile ingénues. Here, in “Crystal Fairy,” as an American in Chile on a quest for the ultimate peyote, his Jamie has some flushing complications after a number two. Normally this would be a conundrum for most, but Jamie happens to be stoned and hanging out with a few of his Chilean hommies, so what’s a little stink among friends?

The head-trip objective runs its narrative arc fairly straight up with a few scatological sprinkles and some moronic lunacy along the way. In most every scene, Jamie’s shrieking hubris consumes the screen, and it doesn’t help he can’t speak Spanish. As far as the project’s origins, you can almost see director Sebastián Silva cooking it up with Cera after coming down from an altered state: “Hey man, all we need is an investor or your Indie famous mug on Kickstarter.” One-time child star Gaby Hoffman checks in as the title character continually at odds with Jamie. She’s a true free-spirit, resoundingly exemplified as she drinks cocktails with the boys in the buff. Jamie, who sees her as an interloper raining on his parade, tells her to cover up, but no one else cares. So goes the movie. She’s tuned in, in touch and can speak the language, he’s just an ugly American. That’s the trip.

— — —


^ Anwar Congo : garrote that man

“The Act of Killing” isn’t a documentary in the conventional sense, not even. Its director, Joshua Oppenheimer has described the film as a “documentary of the imagination,” which is deftly more to the point. What Oppenheimer has done is quite ingenious. The film within a film tautly sheds light on the Indonesian death squads of the ’60s (sanctioned by the nascent government that was passively green-lighted by Western powers) without being a chronicle. Back then, Anwar Congo, who looks slightly like Nelson Mandela, was a petty hood scalping movie tickets until the power shift made him the leader of a militia group that operated with autonomy, little accountability and assumed impunity. He killed thousands, mostly by garrote as he grimly demonstrates for the camera, but Oppenheimer isn’t interested in recreation or testimony, he’s after the soul of a killer and gives Congo a camera to make a movie that encapsulates his legacy.

What Congo comes up with are staged, grand military invasions replete with jeeps, gun turrets mounted, rolling into a jungle village — and surreal nightmare sequences in which he plays the victim. The production values are low, and there is plenty of baroque imagery, like the siren-esque women singing alongside a misty waterfall, the ample overuse of studio blood, and – almost in every sequence — a chubby former executioner in drag. Oppenheimer inter-cuts it starkly with some revelations from Congo and TV footage from back when Congo was revered as a national hero. The journey is amazing, but at some point Oppenheimer becomes too much of a bystander and the wonderment becomes inert. Looming questions never get answered, but you still leave with a pit in your stomach and an itch to google Anwar Congo and the whole bloody chapter on the South Pacific isle.

Crystal Fairy – 2.5 STARS

The Act of Killing – 3 STARS

—- Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies



^ Hathaway Street welcomes you

—- —- —-

“The best ever.”

That’s how The Local Vocal’s editor, Heather Cornell, described this year’s Friday night bash at the annual Madeiran Festival held in and by Blessed Sacrament Parish, the tall-spired, Iberican Gothic cathedral that sits on Acushnet Avenue north of downtown New Bedford.


We were there, too; walking through the huge crowds of happy people — of all ages, skin colors, shapes, and fashion tastes — listening to the bassline humm of a strobe-lit rock band; drinking sangria and eating cacoila and pork butts at the food pavillion; tapping foot to the music of a screaming, hip-hoppy blues rock ensemble on the Madeira Avenue stage; shopping T shirts at the concessions on Hathaway Street; and — maybe best of all — walking up and down Davis Street, Whitman Street, and Madeira Avenue, past the Club Porta Delgada and St. Michael’s — vroomed by motorcycles — between rows of multi-deck houses in, on, and in front of which one met ordinary people celebrating life, tight shorts, tank tops, and the neighborhood.


^ tambours and guitars led processional through the crowd. Love those caps !

This was what a Festival should be. A celebration of one’s self, one’s community, one’s tastes and enjoyments, in the heart of the neighborhood and not pushed off to some bland park on the outskirts. A Festival squeezed in among where people actually live — that’s how they do it in Europe, in cities where people live cheek by knee in buildings that hug each other; living among cooking aromas wafting past cigarette smoke, bumping on slang conversations, sliding over a multitude of immigrant dialects. Obviously it works here in Massachusetts too.


^ screamy blues-based hip hop rock band. Where DID they get those caps ?

The Festival continues today and tomorrow. A schedule of events and locations can be found at the Festival website. It would be a really really unfortunate decision if you decide not to come to it and be part of it. So just come. You will be Madeiran for a day — maybe longer.

NOTE : the Festival lives outdoors. If it rains, you’ll get wet. And you won’t mind it one bit.

—- Mike Freedberg, for The Local Vocal