Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Television News and Notes...

Jennifer Lopez, she of the outsized ego, bloated donkey ass and "Jenny From the Block" persona (a cynically contrived ploy at disingenuously garnering ghetto street cred despite the fact that she grew up in a house with two working parents and attended catholic school, nowhere near the fucking South Bronx that she claims to "rep") is set to play Griselda Blanco in an upcoming HBO special. First of all, anyone familiar with the excellent documentary "Cocaine Cowboys" would understand that this lady's life story needs a multi-part series to cover, like Netflix did for Pablo Escobar in "Narcos". This woman was responsible for not only a large majority of the cocaine being trafficked into Miami during the late 70's-early 80's, she was also responsible for the majority of the depraved butchery that overran law enforcement in the greater Miami-Dade County. During her reign of terror, she employed the fiercest, most violently perverted gang of enforcers and hit men this side of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen. These motherfuckers were straight-up kamikazes, and it's a wonder she lasted so long and did relatively little time in jail given her criminal exploits. If there was ever a candidate for the electric chair, it was this depraved whore. 

But J-Lo is a two-bit wanna-be prosthetic glamour queen. The real Griselda Blanco resembled a Latina version of Mrs. Manicotti from "The Honeymooners". She was short, dumpy, and not at all attractive. Lopez was quoted as saying she is fascinated by this woman's story. So are we here at "Busting Chops", but only as a gratuitous "look-at-that-train-wreck" type of spectacle. She's fascinating in a sort of Josef Mengele type of way. I believe in the right hands Griselda's story would be riveting. But in the hands of Lopez, whose production company is in charge of the project, it's going to be one prolonged narco-infomercial on the glamorous life of a drug queen as played by an aging, manufactured, "look-at-me", lip-syncing twat whose best days are behind her-literally, because her career has been all ass and nothing else. 

Yeah, the resemblance is fucking uncanny-

Narcos Season 2

If you haven't caught Season 1, then watch it before you delve into Season 2 which starts September 2nd. 2016. Everything about this series is superb. The actors and the locations lend it an air of authenticity, The manner in which the story is told (part Spanish, part English, part narrated), keeps it alive and fresh. And the actor playing Pablo Escobar is amazing. Anyone into Brazilian cinema over the last 10-15 years will instantly recognize Wager Moura, who first came to our attention in the grand prison film "Carandiru". He learned Spanish specifically for this role, and even though the Colombian actor who played Pablo in the dynamic series "Pablo Escobar-El Patron del Mal" was a bit more convincing, Moura still manages to knock it out of the park with his performance. 

This season is dedicated to the chase of Escobar once he escapes from the prison he built himself when it's found out that not only was he still conducting business from behind bars, he was assassinating co-workers from the drug trade, whoring, and coming and going as he pleased. From Season 1, we already have the major characters solidly in place for the final showdown. It is interesting also, and very well done by the writers, how every single cross and double-cross by every single entity involved in the drug trade and the Colombian government are seamlessly interwoven into a taught, fast-paced story line. THIS is how you write a fucking script for a televison series, damn it!!! All ten episodes will be available on Netflix when the first episode airs, so if you're one of those types who must binge watch, you can stay up all night and catch all remaining ten episodes all in a row without having to wait. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fear The Walking Dead Season 2...

Death Knows No Borders...Neither Does Boredom.

It's been two grueling seasons already, and enough is enough. There is so much wrong with this program that cancellation is its only hope for redemption. Unfortunately for all involved, there will be a season 3. 

Let's start with the premise. Introducing..."The Douchebags!!!"-California's most boring, dysfunctional, and annoying family!!!

They have it all-broken home repair attempts by the all-too sensitive and henpecked Travis, an overbearing mother named after a street in Manhattan, and three useless, annoying teenagers, one a drug addict, another who wants to piss her parents off by dating a black guy, and a son who should have been dead way before the world collapsed. And just what the fuck is Travis, anyway? A swarthy high school English teacher of Mediterranean descent? A Mexican American who loves education? WTF? 

Then there's mommy dearest, the white blonde matriarch (is there any other type, besides the Caucasian damsel in distress?) who totally sucks at keeping her family together, but still exudes a sense of authority she has neither earned nor is entitled to. Kim Dickens is a cutey in real life, but here she's just an idiot who should focus more on hooking her husband Travis up with some ass. But that's not possible, because between them they exude the sexual tension equivalent of a frog pithing experiment. 

We the viewers were told this spin-off of "The Walking Dead" would fill in some pre-infection questions that were never asked or answered in the original series. In TWD, we got two depressing glimpses into the future-the CDC guy blowing himself up, and that cornball with the mullet who pretended to be a scientist with a cure so he could secure himself safe passage to Washington, DC for what turned out to be no good reason. This series saw the quick decline of civilization...and that was it. 

Now we have the characters in Mexico, and it is clear the writers have no idea how to handle the way Mexicans deal with death in its new permeation of cadavers coming back to life to eat the living. The writers prefer a convoluted blend of Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos with a couple of shots of tequila thrown in for good measure. We also have former drug gangs who are still terrorizing the landscape, albeit on a much more subdued level. I'm waiting for Chapo Guzman to appear with an accompanying mariachi band singing the latest narco-corrido in homage to the walking dead. 

The latest episode included a contrived, pseudo heart-wrenching, alcohol-fueled therapy session between Madison and Strand, whose character has taken a turn for the inconsequential. They wind up making enough noise to literally wake the dead, and what a surprise that they suddenly appear despite the fact that they've spent a couple of hours whopping it up and smashing glasses against a wall. They decide to barricade themselves behind the bar, and the last scene looks not like two desperate, drunk idiots making the wrong move, but a typical Saturday night at Señor Frog's. It made me want to order a drink-cyanide Kool Aid. 

The tough, no-nonsense Latina with the bossy attitude is played by Cuban stunner Danay Garcia. The manner in which her character is written is so totally devoid of nuance and originality, it's as if the writers went directly to the Pancho Villa Handbook of Mexican/Latino Stereotypes and copied/pasted her into the story, which includes the inevitable love affair between her and pretty boy Nick. The only thing missing is a Mexican with a sombrero over his head sleeping against a cactus. The whole Mexican thing is so nonsensical, it can only be described as the manifestation of a writer's Latino fetish after spending a semester abroad. 

Madison's obnoxious teenage children should, be chum for the horde of undead. They are not even worth reviewing for their egregious flaws. The worst that can be said about them is they are unnecessary distractions in a completely pointless story. 

Having no plot to speak of, killing the most compelling character (Salazar) for absolutely no reason, and turning Strand from a calculating, Machiavellian poker player into a driveling, indecisive non-entity so that Madison can get more shine as the de facto leader of the group is bad enough. But this is a horror genre-where is the horror? Where is the creepiness of having to avoid dead cannibals who literally lurk around ever corner and can always be counted on to fuck everything up once the characters feel that one bit safe? Where is the claustrophobia of being trapped in a world that is coming down around the heads of the characters, who have no place to go and nowhere to run? 

It's nowhere to be found, and it will be what ultimately kills the show, Two-bit family dramas are for soap operas, and we get enough of that already on daytime television. The ones who are walking dead aren't on screen, they are in the writing and directer's chairs. 

Fuck you, Travis. I hope it is.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics...

Now that the summer 2016 Summer Olympics are behind us, let's check out the highlights-

Nothing more fun than civil unrest right before the big games. Brazil is suffering the beginnings of what will go down as the worst economic recession in it's history, despite the fact that some are saying the worst is over. The international ratings service Standard and Poor's cut the country's sovereign status to 'junk". The neoliberal template for such catastrophes clearly states the bottom levels of any society must pay for the financial largess of the political and corporate elites. Austerity measures are already being implemented. Let's see how they are achieving this.

Brazil is in the midst of rewriting the constitution and the changes are as follows-

-Retirement age has been raised to 70 in a country where in at least three of its states, life expectancy is 65. Goodbye Golden Years, Hello casket. If you do live past 70, they might as well bury you alive. 

-Constitutional changes will see an end to the current 44-hour work week in exchange for an 80-hour work week, with no more paid vacations, overtime pay, lunch breaks, or sick leave. 

The poor and lower middle classes are always at fault when a country's economy tanks, so it's just as well they pay when things take a downward spiral. Ayn Rand must be doing a traditional Russian dance as she happily spins in her grave, watching from the depths of Hell where her spirit can finally rest at the spectacle of such economic comeuppance for Brazil's working class poor. 

Nothing really put a damper on the games despite some fairly egregious shenanigans, like a decapitated corpse washing up right in front of the (almost) completed beach volleyball venue, the collapse of a cycling path that killed a couple of peeps, green algae in the diving pool, or the fact that the sailing and other maritime competitions were held in Guanabara Bay, where the untreated sewage of neighboring favelas finds its final resting place. To fully appreciate what the water in this bay is like, wait until you get sick with gut-wrenching diarrhea, use the toilet for three straight days, do not flush, and then stick your head in it with your mouth and eyes open. 

Nothing like swimming in the crystal clear waters of Guanabara Bay-

There were the 150-pound rodents (yes, giant rats) strolling the golf greens without ever paying the requisite ticket fees. They are called capybaras, and they are monstrous. They definitely put the infamous NYC pizza rat into perspective-

Golfers Sergio Garcia of Spain and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria tasking photos of a capybara-

Speaking of ticket fees, we also had an IOC official scalping tickets to events. Patrick Hickey, the 71 year-old president of Ireland's Olympic Council and member of the IOC's executive board, was arrested along with six other slugs for price gouging on tickets they were meant of the general public. Over 1,000 tickets were confiscated in the investigation, which is still ongoing. Hickey had to be hospitalized when Brazilian authorities came to arrest him, and he is currently in a Rio de Janeiro jail. The tickets were being funneled through a British hospitality company called THG Sports, and the executive of the parent company, Marcus Evans of Great Britain, is wanted in connection to this massive fraud scheme. 

Headlines were made by Usain Bolt and his sexual trysts during the games, but so far no light has been shed on what IOC officials were up to. According to an undercover investigation by our Latin American Affairs correspondent, IOC officials imported prostitutes from Bogotá, Colombia and Buenos Aires, Argentina and put them up in Rio's finest hotels, showering these putas with free tickets to events, spending money, and gifts like Rolex watches, which IOC officials received free of charge from representatives of the Rolex company. 

Nice, eh? These Five-star amenities are in stark contrast to the infamous favelas of Rio de Janeiro. I can only imagine what these prostitutes and their septuagenarian lovers would feel about the type of tone deaf decadence and grotesque use of IOC funds they enjoyed if they had any idea what it is like for the more unfortunate citizens of the city's poorer neighborhoods. In a twisted perspective of schadenfreude, some of the hookers who were conscripted to sleeping with these hideous, slithering, reptilian IOC mummies told their tales on social media of Viagra overdoses and heart attacks that were treated at a discrete private mobile hospital that was set up exclusively to cater to these embalmed zombies, away from the glare of the international media. 

As for the events themselves, they were manned by unpaid volunteers and the venues completed by construction workers who averaged US $15 dollars a day, while IOC officials were provided with US $900 dollars a day per diem spending money. The Olympic team from India had to fly coach while their Olympic officials flew business class ON THE SAME FUCKING PLANE. And just check out what awaited them at the airport-

These are police officers and firefighters who have been working without pay for weeks, some even months, due to the lack of public money available that was siphoned off by politicians in order to pay for the ever-increasing costs of putting on the games. And they aren't the only ones. Teachers and other state employees have also gone months without paychecks, with the money nowhere in sight to pay them. Some estimates say that after all is said and done, the 2016 Summer Olympics will have cost Brazil US $12 billion dollars. So far the number is about US $9.7 billion. This is along with the US $25 billion Brazil spent on the 2014 World Cup, which the Brazilian national team, heavy favorites to win the tournament, duly fucked up in epic fashion, Here is a chart that describes the spending for these events in direct contrast to the money spent on the mosquito-borne viruses that have threatened the people of Brazil-dengue, zika, and chikungunya. It's always good to have one's priorities in order when you're a politician-

So what were these cops doing while on patrol with no pay? Shooting at practically any young black man who had the unfortunate circumstance of being caught out there during Rio's now-infamous and wholly ineffective Favela Pacification Program-

Yes, nothing like a paramilitary force armed to the teeth occupying your neighborhood while you attempt to make it through your day in one piece. My guess is these pacification programs, meant to establish the authority of the state and wrest it from the drug gangs will be a thing of the past. There is no money in the budget for these continuing actions, so the favlelas will be retaken by the drug dealers who didn't just disappear-they moved to other neighborhoods until the dust settles. 

Here are a few books that will enlighten anyone interested in reading further on the subjects discussed herein-

No one here at "Busting Chops" witnessed one second of this debacle on television out of respect for the prevailing economic and social conditions of the people of Rio, and we were right in boycotting the event. It was yet another example of how the rich get richer while the poor and working classes  pick up the tab. Besides, we tried to get a seat in front of the television, but the couch was taken-

We also did not need to see Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and member of the US Olympic basketball team compare his neighborhood in Baltimore to any favela in Rio. His little slum porno tour was meant to pay homage to the stinking, pathetic conditions that any favela resident would do anything to leave behind, but there he was, calling the place "beautiful".

Newsflash-favelas are not representative of the "real" Rio de Janeiro any more than the projects of the South Bronx are a representative of the "real" New York City. Favelas are slums where there are little to no public services. They are places the government has chosen to abandon, leaving the administration of these areas to the drug gangs. Favelas are places where the playboys of Rio go to have their fun with underage prostitutes while consuming every drug known to man. Good thing the gangs were able to cash in on the marketing bonanza that was the Rio Olympics. Who would want to get left out? The logo below reads "do not use near children", a comforting thought when you're attending a baile funk in the City of God as you open a packet of cocaine while getting blown by a twelve year old hooker.

Drug traffickers with a social conscience-

And what will happen now that there are no more intercontinental sporting events on the horizon, and the Brazilian public has to deal with the impeachment trial of it's president for corruption while facing an economic recession that has no end in sight? Stay tuned, because we will probably see more of the photo below before any sense of normalcy returns to the "Cuidad Maravillosa".