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Showing Revision 3 created 11/15/2013 by joseph_gallucci.

  1. [PAULINE:] Perhaps the film "Ivan the Terrible" is closer to the horror genre
  2. than has been recognized. It's as mysterious to the American eye and mind
  3. as kabuki, to which it is often compared. Perhaps I shouldn't be so
  4. general, perhaps I should only say to my eye and mind, but whenever I ask
  5. people who love it to explain to me what it's about, they come up with some rather mysterious answers.
  6. It's almost like asking them why they think KPFA is so great.
  7. I've been so subdued on this broadcast, it's really just because I have a sore throat.
  8. I bet you thought I was going to go a full half hour without any cracks about this station.
  9. Yesterday a baffled listener sent me some rather curious correspondence, a copy of a
  10. letter this listener had sent to KPFA and with it, Trevor Thomas' response.
  11. The listener had asked - I quote in part - "I like the
  12. idea of a non-commercial radio station broadcasting programs, many of which one would not
  13. be able to hear on commercial radio. I'm currently a subscriber and have been intermittently
  14. over the last 10 years but I'm getting more and more fed up with the guff you keep feeding us.
  15. Miss Kael's startling five minutes on Sunday were the first encouraging sign I've seen
  16. on KPFA in some time. Let's hope they lead to some genuine discussion of the issues
  17. raised, and of some that should have been raised and weren't. You could have a really great station
  18. if you weren't so convinced that you already had it. If this is our station, how about some
  19. information about it instead of all this self-congratulation? Who runs it,
  20. why, and how? Who decides on programs, and on what basis? Who hires
  21. and fires? Who determines the annual budget? What is the background in training
  22. of the various members of the staff? For that matter, how does one go about getting a job at
  23. KPFA? If, on the other hand, this is not our, the listeners, station,
  24. and these questions are none of our business, on what basis are you asking us for money?"
  25. Here is Trevor Thomas' reply in toto:
  26. "Some of the questions you raise in your letter of October 19th are answered in the enclosed pamphlet.
  27. The mistakes we make are those of the staff. But any program person or listener
  28. who asks questions will get a response if it is at all possible. One of the big
  29. frustrations is the inability to deal with many hundreds of ideas and literally thousands of
  30. letters over the year. It would take a minimum of two full-time staff people to concentrate
  31. on the research and consideration to deal conscientiously with each of these letters
  32. and/or suggestions. Yet many of them are important and certainly most important to the
  33. people who took the time to formulate them. You ask on what basis we ask you for
  34. money, there is only one, and that is if you think what is produced is worth hearing.
  35. We are not a charity but we are dependent upon the listener both for sustenance and for encouragement
  36. and criticism." End quote. If that isn't double-talk worthy of a
  37. Congressman addressing a constituent, what is? Surely this deadening evasiveness
  38. towards suggestions and criticism may help to explain why after 13 years
  39. KPFA has fewer than 8,000 subscribers. incidentally, the assumption
  40. of the staff that thousands of people with FM sets who don't subscribe listen may be
  41. unwarranted. When you consider how dull much of the programming is, a casual
  42. listener would have to be practically a martyr to keep the station on in the hopes of getting something that
  43. interested him. It's apparently impossible to make a suggestion without a
  44. counter-request for money. I don't understand how it can be done with a straight face,
  45. but the announcers frequently tell you that if you will give them more money, they will get better programs.
  46. But as they don't pay for the occasional lecturers or for program participants or commentators,
  47. I can't see why it should cost them any more to go after the best people instead of accepting
  48. so many time-fillers. Anthony Boucher and Philip Elwood don't cost any more than the
  49. dithering discussions. It's the same straight face with which Trevor Thomas tells
  50. this listener that it would take a minimum of two full-time staff people to deal with suggestions.
  51. I'd like to know what the Acting President and the Executive Vice-President do if it is
  52. necessary for two other guys to be hired to do the thinking. By the way, the
  53. pamphlet Trevor Thomas enclosed in a true blue binding opens with a lovely statement.
  54. I quote in part: "Increasingly, inquiries come to my desk from people
  55. in other communities: 'When will we have a Pacifica station in our area?' or
  56. 'How do we begin?' In thirteen years of broadcasting, we have determined conclusively
  57. that there is an audience that will support free radio, free to express any shade of
  58. responsible opinion, free to explore familiar and new channels of artistic creativity.
  59. So in answer to these inquiries, it is difficult, but with dedication and
  60. and ingenuity, it is possible." End quote.
  61. I have been asked by a number of you what response I got from the station staff to my calling
  62. for discussion of its policies, its failures, and possible remedies. The answer
  63. is nothing, nothing at all. Apparently, they preferred to overlook the matter,
  64. as if I had made a bad sound at the dinner table. And you, I suppose, will go
  65. on guiltily turning over your dollars to this station, feeling with each contribution that
  66. you're a better person for it. You're paying off the liberal debt. You feel as if you're really
  67. doing something, even if nobody will tell you exactly what. It's all a big union of
  68. self-sacrificing, dedicated staff and self-sacrificial listeners, a kind of
  69. osmosis. They give you guilt, you give them money, and the more guilt they
  70. give you, the more you need to assuage your guilt by giving them money.
  71. [KPFK:] You've been listening to "Movies", a bi-weekly

  72. program of review and comment by Pauline Kael.
  73. If you enjoyed her comments, you might
  74. like to mention the rebroadcast to your friends.
  75. That will be Monday evening on KPFK at 9:15
  76. P.M. KPFA,
  77. her target for today, was the parent
  78. Pacifica station in Berkeley.
  79. If you have comments about KPFK, we suggest you write the station.
  80. Our address is: KPFK, Los Angeles 38.
  81. [KPFK:] Wow, it sounds as though we're...

  82. a little...
  83. Let me go ahead and read this.
  84. Most of our listeners know that the unusual nature of our programs is due
  85. almost exclusively to the fact that we're not subject to commercial pressure on KPFK.
  86. We have no sponsors. We can operate with this freedom
  87. because enough of our listeners value this program freedom enough to help pay for it.
  88. Our only income comes from our listeners. If you find KPFK
  89. important to you, perhaps because of Pauline Kael's program, then
  90. won't you become one of our subscribers? All we ask is twelve dollars a year,
  91. and you receive our program folio, too. Our address is KPFK, Los
  92. Angeles 38. If you'd
  93. like to hear a sample of the kind of programming likely to be heard on
  94. KPFK, or introduce the station to your friends,
  95. we have an LP record called "The Lively Air." Among
  96. the better-known names represented on the record are Herschel Bernardi, Celeste Holm, Hermione
  97. Gingold, Carl Sandburg, Peter Ustinov, and Bruno Walter, plus others.
  98. This arrived only two hours ago at
  99. KPFK from KPFA in Berkeley, however, so
  100. maybe next week we'll be lucky again. Here is Pauline Kael with another in her series of programs
  101. called, "Movies."
  102. [PAULINE:] I am resolved to start the New Year right. I don't want to carry
  103. over any unnecessary rancor from 1962, so let me discharge
  104. a few debts. I want to say a few words about a communication from a woman listener.
  105. She begins with, quote: "Miss Kael, I assume you
  106. aren't married. One loses that nasty sharp bite in one's voice when
  107. one learns to care about others." End quote. Isn't it remarkable
  108. that women who used to pride themselves on their chastity are now just as complacently
  109. proud of their married status? They've read Freud, and they've not only
  110. got the idea that being married is healthier, more mature, they've also got the illusion that
  111. it improves their character. This lady is so concerned that I won't appreciate her
  112. full acceptance of femininity that she signs herself with her husband's name preceded
  113. by a "Mrs." Why, if this "Mrs. John Doe" just signed herself
  114. "Jane Doe", I might confuse her with one of those nasty virgins. I might not
  115. understand the warmth and depth of connubial experience out of which she writes.
  116. I wonder, "Mrs. John Doe," in your reassuring protective marital state,
  117. if you have considered that perhaps caring about others may bring a bite to the voice.
  118. And I wonder if you have considered how difficult it is for a woman in this Freudian-ized age,
  119. which turns out to be a new Victorian age in its attitude to the feminine mind,
  120. to show any intelligence without being accused of unnatural aggressivity,
  121. hateful vindictiveness, or at least lesbianism. The latter accusation
  122. is generally made by men who have had a rough time in an argument. They like to
  123. console themselves with the notion that the woman is semi-masculine. The
  124. New Freudianism goes beyond Victorianism in its placid assumption that a woman
  125. who uses her mind is trying to compete with men. It was bad enough for
  126. women who have brains to be considered freaks like talking dogs. Now it's
  127. leeringly assumed that they're trying to grow a penis, which any man will tell you is
  128. an accomplishment that puts canine conversation in the shade. Mrs.
  129. John Doe and her sisters who write me seem to interpret Freud to mean that intelligence, like a
  130. penis, is a male attribute. The true woman is supposed to be sweet and
  131. passive. She shouldn't argue, or press an opinion, or get excited about a judgement.
  132. Sex, or at least regulated marital sex, is supposed to act as a tranquilizer.
  133. In other words, the Freudianized female accepts that whole complex
  134. complex of passivity that the feminists battled against. Mrs. Doe,
  135. you know something? I don't mind sounding sharp. And I'll take my stand with
  136. those pre-Freudian feminists. And you know something else? I think you're
  137. probably so worried about not competing with male egos, and those brilliant masculine
  138. intellects, that you probably bore men to death. This lady who
  139. attacks me for being nasty and sharp goes on to say, quote: "I was
  140. extremely disappointed to hear your caustic speech on and about the radio station
  141. KPFA. It is unfortunate you were unable to get a liberal education,
  142. because that would have enabled you to know that a great many people have many fields of
  143. interest, and would have saved you from displaying your ignorance on the matter." End
  144. quote. She incidentally displays her liberal education by spelling
  145. caustic c-o-s-t-i-c, and it is with some
  146. expense of spirit that I read this kind of communication. Should I
  147. try to counter my education, liberal and sexual, against hers? Should I
  148. explain that Pauline Kael is the name I was given at birth, and that it does not reflect my
  149. marital vicissitudes, which might over-complicate nomenclature?
  150. It is not really that I prefer to call myself "Miss" that bothers her, or the other Mrs.
  151. Does, it is that I express ideas she doesn't like. If I call
  152. myself by three names like those lady poetesses in the Saturday Review of Literature,
  153. Mrs. Doe would still hate my guts. But significantly, she attacks me for
  154. being a "Miss." Having become a "Mrs.", she has gained a moral superiority.
  155. For the modern woman, losing her virginity is a victory comparable
  156. to the Victorian woman's keeping hers. I'm happy for Mrs.
  157. Doe that she's got a husband, but in her defense of KPFA she writes like a
  158. virgin mind. And is that really something to be happy about?
  159. Mrs. Doe, the happily, emotionally secure, mature, liberally educated womanly
  160. woman, has her opposite number in the mailbag. Here is a letter from a
  161. manly man. I quote this letter in its entirety: "Dear
  162. Miss Kael, since you know so much about the art of the film, why don't you
  163. spend your time making it? But first, you will need a pair of B-blank-blank-
  164. blank-blank." End quote. Mr. Doe-doe,
  165. (I use the repetition in honor of your two attributes), movies are made
  166. and criticism is written by the use of intelligence, talent, taste, emotion,
  167. education, and discrimination. I suggest it is time you and your
  168. cohort stop thinking with your genital jewels. There is a standard answer
  169. to this old idiocy of "If you know so much about the art of the film, why don't you make
  170. movies?": you don't have to lay an egg to know if it tastes good.
  171. And if it makes you feel better, I have worked making movies, and I wasn't hampered
  172. by any biological deficiencies. You may wonder
  173. why I take the time to answer letters of this sort. The reason is that these two examples,
  174. although cruder than most of the mail, simply carry to extremes the kind of thing
  175. so many of you write. And often it is those of you who seem most dedicated to defending
  176. KPFA who attack in this insultingly personal way.
  177. When I listen to Helen Kaufman's appeal to the open-minded, intelligent KPFA
  178. listening body to constitute itself a company of people who are together,
  179. my first thought was "Include me out." I have ample evidence
  180. on my desk that dedication to KPFA is often consistent with petty,
  181. nasty closed-mindedness, and that if you challenge notions dear to these people,
  182. they do not answer at the level of ideas. I have, incidentally,
  183. been told by a member of the KPFA staff that I should limit my discussion to movies.
  184. In other words, it is alright for guests of the station to ask for money for the
  185. station. It is not alright to question how the money is raised and used,
  186. what the station's hiring policy is, nor what the power structure of the station is.
  187. And so, for the moment, to movies.
  188. "Yojimbo" is a glorious film, a comedy satire of force as Kurosawa's
  189. great action epic, "The Seven Samurai", was a poem of force.