Tag Archives: Roger Ebert

The Insecure, In Their Cars, And A Mural Of Children

Alex Eichler at The Atlantic

Matt Welch at Reason:

Well, here’s an ugly story

Wonkette:

Hard to find even the Gallows Humor in this story, so maybe we won’t even try. Maybe it’s time to admit that large chunks of America are in the hands of unreconstructed racists and vulgar idiots, and that the popular election of a black man as president just might’ve pushed these furious, economically doomed old white people into a final rage that is going to end very, very badly. Ready? Here you go: An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming, from adults, as well as a radio talk-show campaign (by an actual city councilman, who has an AM talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face from the mural, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students pictured on the school wall to be repainted as light-skinned children.This is America, in 2010, and there’s a dozen more states and endless white-trash municipalities ready to Officially Adopt this same Official Racist Insanity.

John Cole:

Seriously, Arizona. Fuck off and die.

Adam Serwer at Tapped:

This is another good example of how colorblind racism works. Colorblind racism, as a principle, works not to end racism but rather to render people of color invisible and discussions of racism beyond the pale in order to maintain white racial hegemony. Which is why in Blair’s mind, there would be no racial controversy if there were no people of color. By acknowledging that people of color exist, one “creates racial controversy.” The only way to end racial controversy, therefore, is for white people to be dominant and people of color to be invisible, only then can we be judged by the content of our character.

Roger Ebert:

How would I feel if I were a brown student at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona? A mural was created to depict some of the actual students in the school.
Let’s say I was one of the lucky ones. The mural took shape, and as my face became recognizable, I took some kidding from my classmates and a smile from a pretty girl I liked.

My parents even came over one day to have a look and take some photos to e-mail to the family. The mural was shown on TV, and everybody could see that it was me.

Then a City Councilman named Steve Blair went on his local radio talk show and made some comments about the mural. I didn’t hear him, but I can guess what he said. My dad says it’s open season on brown people in this state. Anyway, for two months white people drove past in their cars and screamed angry words out the window before hurrying away. And the artists got back up on their scaffold and started making my face whiter.
We went over to my grandparent’s house, and my grandmother cried and told me, “I prayed that was ending in my lifetime.” Then there was more news: The City Councilman was fired from his radio show, the Superintendent of Schools climbed up on the scaffold with a bullhorn and apologized for the bad decision, and I guess the artists went back up and started making my skin darker again, but I didn’t go to see, because I never wanted to go near that bullshit mural again.

[…]

I began up above by imagining I was a student in Prescott, Arizona, with my face being painted over. That was easy for me. What I cannot imagine is what it would be like to be one of those people driving past in their cars day after day and screaming hateful things out of the window. How do you get to that place in your life? Were you raised as a racist, or become one on your own? Yes, there was racism involved as my mother let the driver wait outside in the car, but my mother had not evolved past that point at that time. The hard-won social struggles of the 1960s and before have fundamentally altered the feelings most of us breathe, and we have evolved, and that is how America will survive. We are all in this together.

But what about the people in those cars? They don’t breathe that air. They don’t think of the feelings of the kids on the mural. They don’t like those kids in the school. It’s not as if they have reasons. They simply hate. Why would they do that? What have they shut down inside? Why do they resent the rights of others? Our rights must come first before our fears. And our rights are their rights, whoever “they” are.
Not along ago I read this observation by Clint Eastwood: “The less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice.” Do the drive-by haters feel insecure? How are they threatened? What have they talked themselves into? Who benefits by feeding off their fear? We have a black man in the White House, and I suspect they don’t like that very much. They don’t want to accept the reality that other races live here right along with them, and are doing just fine and making a contribution and the same sun rises and sets on us all. Do they fear their own adequacy? Do they grasp for assurance that they’re “better”–which means, not worse? Those poor people. It must be agony to live with such hate, and to seek the company of others so damaged.

Doug Mataconis:

You know, Arizona stuff like this isn’t going to help convince people that there isn’t some weird racial thing going on in your state.

Jason Linkins at Huffington Post:

What can I say about this? We are talking about a bunch of mentally deranged adults, who have terrorized an elementary school, for daring to paint a mural featuring the faces of black and Latino children — actual black and Latino children who live in Arizona. And we’re also talking about a group of adults who have decided to send a stirring message to their students and the world: when a bunch of mentally deranged adults — and we are not talking about people who are particularly threatening, this is a bunch of utterly gutless mopes, yelling racial slurs from their cars, egged on by some pinhead city councilman cowering behind a radio microphone — threaten a bunch of children, the best thing to do is to accede to their psychotic, racist “demands.”

Seriously, educators of Prescott, Arizona, when some creep demands you whiten the faces of your own students on a mural, the correct response is to say, “No, we will not be doing anything of the sort.”

This story really should be blasted, far and wide. You cable news producers need to get this story in the mix with a quickness. And let me be clear to you all: there are no “two sides to this story.” This is not something you need to have a panel discussion about. CNN, I don’t want to see you plumbing the depths of your counterintuition on your website, or lending credence to the notion that the gutless mopes in their cars, shrieking racial slurs at the images of children have an interesting point of view that we should “hear out” because of the need to be “balanced.” This is your moment to decry, condemn, and brutalize these evil people.

Blast them to hell, or go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.

UPDATE: Good news. The gutless, carbound racists lost, and the mural is being restored to its “original theme.” Jeff Lane, the principal of Miller Valley Elementary School, and Kevin Kapp, the school superintendent, showed up at a protest today to apologize for giving in to whims of mentally deranged adults, spewing racial epithets at a painting

Garrett Epps at The Atlantic:

On Saturday, the public rallied at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona, to save the murals on the wall outside the school.  School officials had asked the artists to “Lighten up the forehead and the cheeks” of one of the students depicted in the mural, and make all the children look more “radiant and happy” — meaning, apparently, less black and Latino.  But at the rally, officials of the school district announced that the murals would be kept as they are.
The crisis at Miller Valley Elementary was brought on largely by the efforts of Steve Blair, a radio host and member of the city council.  Blair objected to the mural’s depictions of black and Latino students.  Blair assured listeners that “I’m not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but whenever people start talking about diversity, it’s a word I can’t stand.”  Not long after, drivers began shouting racial slurs at the artists working on the murals.  Blair was fired from his radio show on Friday.
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Cinco de Tweety And The Blog Posts That It Caused

Captured tweets via Gawker

Roger Ebert:

This is the result of one single Twitter of mine, and those who were eager to misunderstand it. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, and here is what I tweeted:

@ebertchicago Kids who wear American Flag t-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.

Now what do you suppose I meant by that? It was tweeted at the height of the discussion over five white California kids who wore matching t-shirts to school on Cinco de Mayo, and were sent home by their school. This inspired predictable outrage in the usual circles.

Tweeted from lonestarag05: Its the USA not Mexico. They are allowed to be proud of their country. I wonder sometimes why you even stay here.

Many others informed me that Americans have the right to be proud of our flag, and wear it on T-shirts. Of course they do. That isn’t the question. It’s not what my Tweet said. What I suggested, in its 108 letters, is that we could all use a little empathy. I wish I had worded it better.

Let’s begin with a fact few Americans know: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is an American custom. The first such celebration was held in California in 1863, and they have continued without interruption. In Mexico itself it is not observed, except in the state of Puebla–the site of Mexico’s underdog victory over the French on May 5, 1862.

Cinco de Mayo’s purpose is to celebrate Mexican-American culture in the United States. We are a nation of immigrants, and have many such observances, for example St. Patrick’s Day parades, which began in Boston in 1737 and not in Ireland until 1931. Or Pulaski Day, officially established in Illinois in 1977, and not observed in Poland. The first Chinese New Year’s parade was held in San Francisco in the 1860s, and such parades began only later in China. In Chicago this August we will have the 81st annual Bud Billiken Parade, one of the largest parades in America, celebrating the African-American heritage.

I invite you to perform four easy thought experiments:

1. You and four friends are in Boston and attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade wearing matching Union Jack t-shirts, which of course you have every right to do.

2. You and your pals are in Chicago on Pulaski Day, and wear a t-shirt with a photograph of Joseph Stalin, which is your right.

3. In San Francisco’s Chinatown for the parade, your crowd wears t-shirts saying “My granddad was at the Rape of Nanking and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

4. In Chicago for the Bud Billiken Parade, you and your crowd, back in shape after three hospitalizations, turn up with matching t-shirts sporting the Confederate flag.

The question is obviously not whether Americans, or anyone else, has the right to wear our flag on their t-shirts. But empathetic people realize much depends on context. If, on Cinco de Mayo, you turn up at your school with a large Mexican-American student population wearing such shirts, are you (1) joining in the spirit of the holiday, or (2) looking for trouble?

I suggest you intend to insult your fellow students. Not because they do not respect THEIR flag, but because you do not respect their heritage. That there are five of you in matching shirts demonstrates you want to be deliberately provocative.

Therefore, you and your buddies should try wearing the hammer and sickle on the Fourth of July. You could try it at a NASCAR race, for example.

Ravi Somaiya at  Gawker:

Five kids were sent home from a California high school on Wednesday for what seems like a fairly open-and-shut case of trying to start trouble. Of course, to the nutbag right, this was not the case at all and the whole thing was anti-American. Last week Ebert sent this message in response to the story:

@ebertchicago Kids who wear American Flag t-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.

According to an Ebert blog post today, it was met with predictable outrage from people with predictable Twitter handles:

@lonestarag05: Its the USA not Mexico. They are allowed to be proud of their country. I wonder sometimes why you even stay here.

Ebert has defended the Tweet very eloquently here. He points out, using humor, reason, logic and fact that the kids had done something analogous to wearing a Union Jack on St. Patrick’s day in Boston, or a Confederate flag to the Bud Biliken parade in Chicago — they were disrespecting the heritage of a community busy celebrating that heritage. Like, for example, “wearing the hammer and sickle on the Fourth of July.” He adds in the blog post that those who defended the kids might try that “at a NASCAR race, for example.”

Of course humor, reason, logic and fact are utterly alien to the Tea Party and their enraged acolytes. And they know no sense of proportion. Ebert, as this excellent Esquire profile outlines, has suffered through repeated bouts of cancer, and operations to remove that cancer, that have left him without a lower jaw. The picture above is the one that Esquire ran with that profile.

Knowing what we know about the Tea Party it shouldn’t have been surprising when Ebert tweeted this last night. But it was sad.

Tea Party Turns on Roger Ebert, Mocks His Cancer (Updated)

Scott Wampler at The Examiner:

Meet Caleb Howe, a self-proclaimed Tea Party member and dude who claims to write for RedState.com.  Because it’s called RedState.com, it’s precisely the sorta website that someone like a Comedy Examiner avoids.  And, it’s precisely because of the sort of Tweets that Howe made above that I’d avoid such a site.  I mean, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page here:  Roger Ebert thinks that a handful of kids who were clearly just trying to stir up trouble were out of line…and someone (actually, more than just Howe, but let’s use him as our go-to dude on this one) mocks Roger Ebert’s cancer?  Tweets that he wants to provide Ebert with a “mercy killing”?

Are you effing kidding me?

Chris Jones at Esquire:

But for me — as a friend, but also as a human being — Roger’s rebuke didn’t go far enough. I’ve still spent a lot of time thinking how good it would feel to punch Caleb Howe hard in the mouth. I can’t help it, even though I know in my heart that Howe wants all of this, wants to bask in anything that resembles the thin light of attention. His posts on RedState.com might normally earn five or seven comments; Roger’s eloquent blog entries can win more than a thousand. That must be incredibly frustrating for Howe, who clearly has designs on his joining our ranks of right-wing wrestling heels and saw, through the bottom of his vodka glass, his path to glory: He decided, like those California school kids, to make an unnecessary, calculated attempt to provoke. And it worked, the way it works for Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, whenever they say something inflammatory and terrible. He made me angry, and now he knows it. Good for him. I hope he’s happy.

Because if he’s happy, then I know that will make his fall that much harder in the end. Saying the things he said — under the guise of patriotism, or freedom, or whatever illogic he chooses to use — has to eat at a man. I have to believe that; the alternative is too awful to stomach. I have to believe that after Howe sobered up, he must have thought, if only for a moment, What have I done? He must have felt whatever passes for regret in him, the prickles of sweat growing on his forehead. He must have felt as though he had butted out a cigarette on his own soul. And because he can’t apologize for it — can’t dream of seeming weak in the eyes of his fellow scholars and judges — those pinhole burns will stay there forever. Yes, Caleb Howe is more famous than he was last week, but he’s famous for being a person who doesn’t know whether he should introduce himself to strangers at parties, just in case, and he’s famous for his allegiance to the very thing that Roger has already stomped again and again: Caleb Howe, for whatever unfathomable reason, has sided with cancer.

Caleb Howe at Mediaite:

I love Twitter. I use it all the time. When I say use, hear it the way an addict would say it. I use Twitter. I’m pretty good at it too. Not in the sense of having lots of followers, or being really popular, or anyone knowing who I am. Rather in the sense of knowing how to get certain things out of it that I want. Usually that’s traffic to a blog post. I admit that. But the most satisfying thing of all is a retweet. If you’re really good, or really famous, it’s easy to get a lot of retweets. If you aren’t either of those, it’s still easy. Be bad.

I do this sometimes. Late at night, typically. Angrily for the most part. Drunkenly on occasion. Twitter is real life and in real time, after all. Isn’t that what we all love and hate about it?

Knowing all this, I hatched a plan that’s been going swimmingly all week. You see, Roger Ebert is on Twitter too. And he can be exceedingly … unkind. He compared Arizona’s immigration law to the Holocaust. Twice. He routinely mocks “TeePees,” his adorably dismissive shorthand for tea party protesters. And most recently, in an exceedingly ill-advised and poorly-received tweet, he suggested that “Kids who wear American Flag t-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.”

Let us not today go into the ins and outs of the students sent home after refusing to cover their American flags on Cinco de Mayo. Suffice it to say that from my perspective this was an unconscionable outrage, and therefore Ebert’s escalation of the rhetoric to the level of hammer and sickle doubly so. It was an insight into him. Twitter, as we addicts believe, is real life. And in real time. And so … the plan.

It was amazingly easy to do. First, I warned Media Matters what was about to happen. Second, I began attacking Ebert with increasingly awful tweets mocking his cancer. Third, I waited.

When the hits started rolling in, I infuriatingly taunted the naysayers with non-sequiturs and your momma jokes. That’s when they started getting real. Saying awful things. Well you see, it’s ok with me. I had earned it.

And therein lay my plan. I’d wait a few days, gather the most insulting tweets, and publish. The fact that they felt free to “go there” with me proves they implicitly accept my premise. For they were using my logic, you see. Ebert had “earned” it, so I was free to open fire. Now I had earned it, so they were free to open fire. Media Matters was a no-brainer. I’d invited them in advance. But imagine my delight when bomb-throwing gossip site Gawker linked to my twitter feed. I fairly twisted my mustache and rubbed my palms greedily. Everything was proceeding as I had foreseen it; better, even.

This morning, I started in on the final phase: gathering the evidence. I started with Ebert. I spent hours poring over months of his twitter feed. I found he had a distinctive “dirty old man” streak. Screenshot. I saw how fond he was of mocking Creationism, intelligent design, Noah’s Ark, and Christianity in general. Screenshot. I found countless dismissive tweets about the ignorance of TeePees. The countless veiled accusations of racism. The endless tweeting and retweeting of anything critical of Sarah Palin. Screenshot, screenshot, screenshot. I found a totally right-on movie review of the movie Kick-Ass that mirrored my own thoughts perfectly. Screens … wait. What?

It is here. I’ve read Ebert before of course. He’s as good as his reputation. But this was more than a movie review. The objection was on a moral ground that I share. It was my objection to the movie too. Hmm.

Back to the Twitter I go. A little more uneasy, now. Ahhh, another TeePee reference. My righteousness has been restored. A-digging I continue. Screenshot. Screenshot. Appreciative chuckle. Dammit!

I started seeing quotable quotes. Witticisms I appreciated. Depth.

Ebert tends to appreciate the same sorts of lyrical turns of phrase on Twitter that I appreciate. I saw when he was being savaged about his position on whether video games can be art, he let the savagery wash over him. He even got a few quick quips out of it. I kept thinking “I should like this guy.” And then, TeePees, Michael Moore, and Markos. I couldn’t like him, even though I actually started wanting to. But his tweeting is so hot and cold. It’s like there are two of him. The one that everybody appreciates, and then the rabid lefty tweeter. I couldn’t figure it out.

And then I figured it out. That’s exactly how I am. Half of my tweets are normal, off-topic, funny (if I do say so) or conversational. And half must set afire the blood of any left-wing tweeter. I’m just like Ebert, minus the fame, fortune, education, writing talent, and painful disease. It’s like he was … human.

And that’s when it suddenly dawned on me. Twitter isn’t real life. It’s 140 characters. It’s a window, not a door, and certainly not the whole house. We all know this, of course. But we act in a manner that indicates we do not.

People like me, or anonymous Twitterer @shoq, and many others who do what we consider to be battle on Twitter “know” we are right. We know we are right because those we oppose are so very wrong. It’s all quite easy. You’re a TeePee. Yeah well you’re a moonbat! Tit for tat. Jab for jab. Round and round we go. The race to the most cutting insult never ceases. Do a search on twitter, some time, for “sub-human,” and/or “filth.” Try “despicable”. I bet it comes up a lot more than “beautiful.” Try “scum.” I bet it comes up more than “person.” Try “hate.” I think you get the picture.

You know what? It’s a polarized country we live in. Often rabidly so. I play that game. Most of you reading this, you play it too. We play for ratings, for clicks, for retweets. We play to satisfy bloodlust, vengeance, self-righteous fury. We play because we have contempt. And contempt is the one thing you will see on display more often than any other emotion in political tweeting. Because that’s not a person, it’s a TeePee. Not a man, a target.

Roger Ebert cannot be measured by his Twitter feed. Not even by his collective writings. Because he is human, and what’s more a human in pain. As am I. As are we all.

Tbogg:

So now CNN should totally hire Caleb Howe because, like Erick Erickson, he’s grown up a whole lot since last week.

The end.

Dan Riehl:

Caleb’s big mistake was apologizing. Did Ebert apologize to the many tragic victims of the Holocaust whose deaths he all but mocked and abused? No, of course not. Will he suddenly develop compassion for the victims of kidnappings and other crimes in Arizona? The people who feel trapped in their homes because of the Federal government’s refusal to act? Don’t hold your breath. As a political actor, he’s no more interested in their day-to-day lives, than we should be about his.

That’s because he’s a scumbag, a card carrying member of the disgusting Left, now using his position and even his illness as a platform to undermine the very country that gave him everything he has. And they never apologize for any of their ugly, or even anti-American filth.

Did Caleb lose it and go a little too far? Yeah, probably. I doubt I’d have gone on to that degree. However, these are especially tense and troubling political times for America with much at stake. It happens and, given the Internet/technological influences on communication, it happens even more. And I imagine it’s going to get worse, before it gets better. I went off on someone on our side yesterday because of a misunderstanding. Eh, you move on.

Karoli at Crooks And Liars:

He’s still wrong about Twitter. Real people do inhabit the place, just like the real people who inhabit comments on the posts here at Crooks and Liars. Real people, with real lives, real health problems, real concerns and real interests. They’re even real voters. They come to social networks looking for a connection and a conversation. It’s not all of life, but it is a part of daily life in this connected world of ours, and if Howe is really sorry, he’ll get a clue about that.

Howe’s declaration that Twitter isn’t real life reveals more about why he did what he did than anything else. When nothing is real, when it’s all a game, when cancer is a word and not a disfiguring disease, all bets are off. This is how those words made it through his filters, because no one was real to him. Not one person.

Caleb Howe is a fascinating look at how conservatives think. No one is real; it’s all a game. Roll the 20-sided die for your contempt score, move to the next battle. This ability to disconnect from humanity is what should disqualify them from any leadership role whatsoever.

Adrian Chen at Gawker:

Let us return for a moment to our original question: How drunk was Howe when he pounded that stuff out on his keyboard and hit the enter button! Probably really drunk, judging by what he tweeted directly from launching on his rant: “Wife just revealed twe (sic) have fifth of vodka in freezer. That means I’m about to say things about Roger Ebert that Media Matters won’t like.” In fact Howe has a long history of sitting in front of his computer drinking vodka and tweeting about it:

How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?

So, we’re going to say he was really drunk. Probably partial black-out? Maybe he had a vague memory of typing the next morning. Next question: How drunk was he when he wrote this essay? To be so deluded that this exercise in self-aggrandizement with a one-sentence apology at the end might make him seem like less of a creepy drunk pounding away on the Internet after a shot or twelve, spilling the worst parts of himself out into the world. (See also: His gleeful celebration of Congressman John Murtha’s death.) Also up for debate, the drunkness level of the Mediaite person that put this on their website. (Awesome get! A guy who makes fun of cancer survivors!) The first political essay for and by drunk assholes. Caleb Howe is like the Tucker Max of politics. (Without the writing talent.)

Update: Caleb Howe complained we did not get his comment on this article, so I interviewed him via Twitter:
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?
How Drunk Was the Tea Bagger Blogger Who Mocked Rogert Ebert's Cancer?

EARLIER: Marilyn Manson T-Shirt, This Was Not

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Two Internet Thumbs Up

Chris Jones in Esquire:

Roger Ebert can’t remember the last thing he ate. He can’t remember the last thing he drank, either, or the last thing he said. Of course, those things existed; those lasts happened. They just didn’t happen with enough warning for him to have bothered committing them to memory — it wasn’t as though he sat down, knowingly, to his last supper or last cup of coffee or to whisper a last word into Chaz’s ear. The doctors told him they were going to give him back his ability to eat, drink, and talk. But the doctors were wrong, weren’t they? On some morning or afternoon or evening, sometime in 2006, Ebert took his last bite and sip, and he spoke his last word.

Ebert’s lasts almost certainly took place in a hospital. That much he can guess. His last food was probably nothing special, except that it was: hot soup in a brown plastic bowl; maybe some oatmeal; perhaps a saltine or some canned peaches. His last drink? Water, most likely, but maybe juice, again slurped out of plastic with the tinfoil lid peeled back. The last thing he said? Ebert thinks about it for a few moments, and then his eyes go wide behind his glasses, and he looks out into space in case the answer is floating in the air somewhere. It isn’t. He looks surprised that he can’t remember. He knows the last words Studs Terkel’s wife, Ida, muttered when she was wheeled into the operating room (“Louis, what have you gotten me into now?”), but Ebert doesn’t know what his own last words were. He thinks he probably said goodbye to Chaz before one of his own trips into the operating room, perhaps when he had parts of his salivary glands taken out — but that can’t be right. He was back on TV after that operation. Whenever it was, the moment wasn’t cinematic. His last words weren’t recorded. There was just his voice, and then there wasn’t.

Now his hands do the talking. They are delicate, long-fingered, wrapped in skin as thin and translucent as silk. He wears his wedding ring on the middle finger of his left hand; he’s lost so much weight since he and Chaz were married in 1992 that it won’t stay where it belongs, especially now that his hands are so busy. There is almost always a pen in one and a spiral notebook or a pad of Post-it notes in the other — unless he’s at home, in which case his fingers are feverishly banging the keys of his MacBook Pro.

He’s also developed a kind of rudimentary sign language. If he passes a written note to someone and then opens and closes his fingers like a bird’s beak, that means he would like them to read the note aloud for the other people in the room. If he touches his hand to his blue cardigan over his heart, that means he’s either talking about something of great importance to him or he wants to make it clear that he’s telling the truth. If he needs to get someone’s attention and they’re looking away from him or sitting with him in the dark, he’ll clack on a hard surface with his nails, like he’s tapping out Morse code. Sometimes — when he’s outside wearing gloves, for instance — he’ll be forced to draw letters with his finger on his palm. That’s his last resort.

C-O-M-C-A-S-T, he writes on his palm to Chaz after they’ve stopped on the way back from the movie to go for a walk.

Roger Ebert continues on his own blog at Chicago Sun-Times:

I knew going in that a lot of the article would be about my surgeries and their aftermath. Let’s face it. Esquire wouldn’t have assigned an article if I were still in good health. Their cover line was the hook: Roger Ebert’s Last Words. A good head. Whoever wrote that knew what they were doing. I was a little surprised at the detail the article went into about the nature and extent of my wounds and the realities of my appearance, but what the hell. It was true. I didn’t need polite fictions.

One strange result was that many people got the idea that these were my dying words. The line Chaz liked least referred to the time he has left. A blog reader said he hadn’t realized I was so frail. Here’s how Romenesko’s Media News linked the item:
romanes.jpg
Well, we’re all dying in increments. I don’t mind people knowing what I look like, but I don’t want them thinking I’m dying. To be fair, Chris Jones never said I was. If he took a certain elegiac tone, you know what? I might have, too. And if he structured his elements into a story arc, that’s just good writing. He wasn’t precisely an eyewitness the second evening after Chaz had gone off to bed and I was streaming Radio Caroline and writing late into the night. But that’s what I did. It may be, the more interviews you’ve done, the more you appreciate a good one. I knew exactly what he started with, and I could see where he ended, and he can be proud of the piece.

I mentioned that it was sort of a relief to have that full-page photo of my face. Yes, I winced. What I hated most was that my hair was so neatly combed. Running it that big was good journalism. It made you want to read the article.

John Hudson at The Atlantic:

On Tuesday, a sensitive Esquire profile of ailing film critic Roger Ebert lit up the Twittersphere. The piece documents Ebert’s physical deterioration as he continues to battle cancer. Three years ago, Ebert’s jaw was removed and he lost the ability to speak. That didn’t, however, deter him from becoming a prolific Twitter user. On Tuesday, the micro-blogging service returned the favor.

In an outpouring of tweets, users across the country praised Ebert and the man who profiled him, Esquire’s Chris Jones. Here’s a small sampling:

  • vwyellowpress: A must-read on movie critic Roger Ebert: Looking for the meaning of life? I think it’s in a story I just read….
  • annehelen: If you still haven’t read the Esquire piece on Ebert, do. Now. A narrative fit for one of his beloved films.
  • AmyKNelson: if you read anything today, plese go to Chris Jones’ fabulous profile of Roger Ebert, who is dying:
  • jodyms: The piece on Ebert is outstanding. A tough read; one where each paragraph has its own revelations. Amazing.

Austin L. Ray at Paste Magazine

Nathan Rabin at Onion A.V. Club:

It is no secret that Roger Ebert is a hero to many of the writers here at A.V Club. He’s an inspiration to just about every film critic alive and now Chris Jones has written perhaps the definitive article about Ebert and his struggles with cancer and silence for Esquire. The deeply moving, incredibly insightful profile has been ricocheting through cyber-space as of late. We cannot recommend it highly enough.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing:

Hal sez, “Near the end of his long and touching Esquire article about the career and illness of Roger Ebert, Chris Jones writes about Ebert’s discovery that somebody (probably Disney) had disappeared the YouTube videos of his tribute to Gene Siskel on his own freaking show:”

Ebert keeps scrolling down. Below his journal he had embedded video of his first show alone, the balcony seat empty across the aisle. It was a tribute, in three parts. He wants to watch them now, because he wants to remember, but at the bottom of the page there are only three big black squares. In the middle of the squares, white type reads: “Content deleted. This video is no longer available because it has been deleted.” Ebert leans into the screen, trying to figure out what’s happened. He looks across at Chaz. The top half of his face turns red, and his eyes well up again, but this time, it’s not sadness surfacing. He’s shaking. It’s anger. Chaz looks over his shoulder at the screen. “Those fu — ” she says, catching herself.

They think it’s Disney again — that they’ve taken down the videos. Terms-of-use violation.

This time, the anger lasts long enough for Ebert to write it down. He opens a new page in his text-to-speech program, a blank white sheet. He types in capital letters, stabbing at the keys with his delicate, trembling hands: MY TRIBUTE, appears behind the cursor in the top left corner. ON THE FIRST SHOW AFTER HIS DEATH. But Ebert doesn’t press the button that fires up the speakers. He presses a different button, a button that makes the words bigger. He presses the button again and again and again, the words growing bigger and bigger and bigger until they become too big to fit the screen, now they’re just letters, but he keeps hitting the button, bigger and bigger still, now just shapes and angles, just geometry filling the white screen with black like the three squares. Roger Ebert is shaking, his entire body is shaking, and he’s still hitting the button, bang, bang, bang, and he’s shouting now. He’s standing outside on the street corner and he’s arching his back and he’s shouting at the top of his lungs.

Amber Jones at Pop Eater:
In a new interview with Esquire magazine, famed movie critic Roger Ebert discusses what his life is like now, since surgeries stripped him of his lower jaw and the ability to speak and eat. The touching interview recounts Ebert’s days, which are regimented as his wife Chaz takes care of him, but one thing is for sure: Ebert does not want to be pitied. He is striving to keep publishing his legendary movie reviews and keep the film industry on its toes.
Ebert is a cinematic icon whose film reviews and reputation have become legendary. Ebert has held the film industry to a high standard, and it’s difficult to imagine modern movies without considering his opinion. There’s no question, he has the ability to make or break a blockbuster. As part of the once dynamic duo of Siskel and Ebert, he still holds his own today (despite the loss of Gene Siskel, who died 11 years ago from brain cancer.)

While not everyone has to agree with his reviews (four stars for ‘Me and Orson Welles’?), his cinematic critiques keep us talking. Examining each film, Ebert is a recognizable name who’s reputation precedes him.

Even A.O. Scott, a NY Times movie critic and co-host of ‘At The Movies,’ admits Ebert embodies our image of what a movie critic should be. “Anyone who is even slightly interested in movies comes across Roger… What makes him stand out is his ability to turn his technical knowledge of film and make it accessible and clear to the public,” Scott tells PopEater. “He is one of the best daily newspaper critics, and it’s because he can convey his thoughts and judgments about movies effortlessly with knowledge to back it up.”

UPDATE: Rod Dreher

UPDATE #2: Will Leitch at Deadspin

More Dreher

Sonny Bunch at Doublethink

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