The speeches of April 3 and 4.

It has been 48 years today since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. at 6:01 p.m. (a time of day U2 managed to get completely wrong in “Pride”).

As most schoolkids know (one would hope), King was in Memphis to support the sanitation worker’s strike. The night of April 3, he delivered his “Moutaintop” speech at the Mason Temple. There had been a bomb threat against his flight into Memphis, which prompted the following passage in the speech, generally considered one of the all-time greatest moments of American oratory:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. [applause] And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! [applause] And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

He was dead less that 24 hours later.

The evening of April 4, Robert Kennedy, campaigning in Indiana, received word that King had died. Standing on a flatbed truck in Indianapolis, Kennedy told the assembled about King, delivering one of the other greatest moments in American oratory.

Here is an excerpt:

“For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

“But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: ‘Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

If you can read this and not collapse in despair at the quality of contemporary, national political rhetoric, you are are tougher than I am.

 

 

 

 

“The Path,” Hulu’s new show — which is absolutely, positively not about Scientology — burns slowly but hypnotically

Does anyone remember the last time anyone saw Aaron Paul on a screen of some sort NOT looking tortured?

Aaron Paul in "The Path"
Aaron Paul in “The Path”

Paul wrote himself into the TV history books as Jesse Pinkman, Walter White’s emotionally wrung-out co-conspirator on “Breaking Bad.” In Austin filmmaker Kat Candler’s “Hellion,” Paul played a working-class Texas widower struggling to parent two boys after his wife’s death. He was even put upon as the prophet Joshua in the largely terrible “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” (Yes, that C was very, very generous.)

Now that I think about it, he was not all that tortured in “Big Love” as the ex-Mormon Scott Quittman, this square dude a) whose name was a tad on the nose and b) who ends up married to Sarah Henrickson. It’s a part miles away from Pinkman and, these days, nobody remembers he was on that show.

He remains tortured in “The Path,” Hulu’s new original series created by former “Friday Night Lights” writer Jessica Goldberg and executive produced by Jason Katims, also known for “Lights.” The first two episodes appeared March 30; a new one will follow every Wednesday for the next eight weeks.

A free-floating sense of doom hangs over “The Path” as Paul plays Eddie, a convert to a cultish religion called Meyerism, a mix of we’re-not-going-to-call-it-Scientology, some Native American mythos, a pinch of Mormonism and a whole lot of New Age.

Eddie is married to Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), a second-generation Meyerist. Her ex-boyfriend Cal (Hugh Dancy of “Hannibal” fame) runs the cult’s East Coast branch. We meet him first, jumping out of a Meyerist van lending a hand at the site of a natural disaster. It seems like the Meyerists were on-hand before FEMA, which alerts federal cult-watchers.

This is a bit of a protocol-break. Devout Meyerists live in a modern-day compound and try to stay under the radar. Cal, all trim hair and iron will, is ready to be more public. Cal claims to have direct communication to Steven Meyer, the Meyerism founder who is reportedly in Peru translating the final chapter of “The Latter,” the book by which Meyerists live their lives.

Meanwhile, Eddie has returned from a Peruvian retreat,  which came complete with ayahuasca, a very tempting Minka Kelly and a vision that Meyerism may not be exactly all Eddie, a true believer, thinks it is. (Word to the show for putting Keir Dullea in a canny bit of stunt-casting.) Eddie starts acting weird, Sarah is getting nervous, Cal is a little jealous and all the kids at school think Eddie and Sarah’s teenage son is a virginal freak. (Maybe “Big Love” was a pretty good training ground for this show.)

Honestly, there isn’t much to “The Path” so far. Two episodes in, things are moving slowly but deliberately.

We see both Eddie and Sarah engage in practices that are certainly reminiscent of it-isn’t-Scientology. A crucial plot point, teased in the first episode, was revealed at the end of the second, a welcome development as I dreaded the idea that it would take all season for us to get there.

But I want to give “The Path” the benefit of the doubt, at least for a few more episodes. It was wise to open the series with Paul already doubting his faith —  he has built his brand on characters who reluctantly go with the program (Pinkman) or have broken with it all together (Quittman).

Dancy, on the other hand, seems ready to tear into a part that is more Hannibal Lecter than Will Graham. Not that Dancy is going around eating people, not yet, but, much like Lecter, Dancy’s Cal is a man who believes utterly in his way of viewing the world. Whether Cal is doing it ironically or with perfect faith remains to be seen.

 

Welcome to Check It Out. Feel free to leave your shoes on, it’s cool.

So, there will be a lot of different stuff going on in this blog:

All sorts of television – the great, the not-so-great and “Vinyl,” a show that should really be called

The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)
The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)

Movie things that don’t fit in the Austin Movie Blog (cool home video releases, what’s new in streaming, supplementary notes about movie reviews or maybe some of the angry trolling I got about this thing.)

Music things that aren’t quite right for the Austin Music Source (cool band I find on, say, Bandcamp, what I’ve been listening to, etc.)

Books things that might not be right for the Reader (including comics, comics and more comics).

Cultural detritus from around the Web. A place to discuss all that is new and interesting in culture, or old and interesting in culture, popular or otherwise.

And if I use the word thinkpiece, please feel free to send me a strongly worded note.

A word about the blog name:

I thought I was making a horrible pun that maybe three people would get, as in

a) this blog I would love for you, the reader, to in fact check out, and

b) it is the catchphrase, more or less, of one John Brannon, one of the greatest punk frontmen who ever lived and a man possessed of a truly singular vocal roar. He fronted Negative Approach, one of the three or four best first-gen American hardcore punk bands; Laughing Hyenas, a truly mighty indie rock force back when indie rock could mean everything from the Jesus Lizard to Heavenly to Yo La Tengo to Fugazi; and Easy Action, whose “Kool Aide” is one of my all-time favorite Brannon joints.

Anyway, this is what he looks like:

the Voice
The Voice

And this is the photo that made everyone familiar with both of us laugh out loud:

some dude
Some dude

See? Dumb joke.

The problem, of course, is I completely and totally (and I mean this sincerely) forgot about the phrase’s association with these guys:

RIP MCA
RIP MCA

In fairness, that (admittedly Grammy-nominated and very popular) song is on “To the Five Boroughs,” which I do not recall as an album with which I spent a whole lot of time. That said, I understand why SEVERAL people have said, “Oh, like the Beastie Boys song?”

No, not like the Beastie Boys song. And definately not like the John Cougar Mellencamp song. Never, ever that. Ever.

In sum, welcome to Check It Out. Watch this space.