Interviewing Riverside’s Survivalists

The billboards throughout KC have always drawn curiosity, and eventually, I just had to see what an establishment like this offered, and how they operated.

What I found was a store with interesting, conscious people, with a variety of stories and backgrounds, ready to share a prepared way to live.

“Sully” Opens Another Window to Director’s Worldview

Sully, starring Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, is the story of the real life airline pilot’s miraculous landing in the Hudson River, and the controversy and personal issues surrounding the landing. It’s also best understood by examining its director, Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood got his start in film playing gritty anti-heroes who were above the law, in films like Dirty Harry and The Good the Bad and the Ugly. That explains then, why Eastwood hones in on Sullivan or “Sully”, as bogged down by the establishment, when the flight Safety Board instructors, put him on a trial for the risky choice of landing. They might as well be the police chief berating Dirty Harry for not “playing by the book.”

Clint Eastwood is also known for directing sparse looks at American power and prestige such as Letters from Iwo Jima and J Edgar. Eastwood focuses on larger than life figures, lone wolf heroes who may or may not always be making the right decisions. The best comparison might just be Eastwood’s previous film, the controversial American Sniper from last year, Sully is almost a sequel in some ways.

Both Sully and American Sniper are looks at modern american “heroes” of the last decade, popular folk legends that were spun mainly by the cable news cycle. (It’s a fun experiment to try and imagine which “hero” Eastwood would pick for the next film if he wanted to make a trilogy.) The biggest reason I think the formula for Sully works much better, is that the hero of American Sniper isn’t a character, his biggest trait is loving his country and being good at shooting, while Sully weighs much more heavily on the choices he’s made.

Tom Hanks plays Sully extremely different than his usual roles. He is colder, humble, just doing his job. (Although it’s questionable whether this film isn’t the ultimate humble-brag.) Sullivan suffers from doubt about whether his risky landing in an emergency might have needlessly risked the lives on board, he’s seen as a hero by the people but he’s still reeling from shock and PTSD.

The film is given an air of objectivity by long static shots of action taking place. The soundtrack is nonexistent and the colors are muted, while the tension of the various stages of the landing and the trial afterwards is kept razor thin. The shots of working class people cheering the New York plane miracle is very obviously compared to the not so miraculous New York plane event previously. It’s a redemption in some ways. Almost cathartic.

Sully isn’t perfect, for such a cold film it’s almost obnoxiously dripping with the director’s idea about what America, heroism, and duty are. But it’s like it’s hero, the film delivers, and you can’t question that. Recommended

Missouri Senate Race, Republican Blunt Challenged by Democrat Kander

It’s a little known fact that more than one person is involved in the US government, and believe it or not there’s more than the presidency up for grabs on November 8th. This year Missouri will vote for one Senatorial Seat, the candidates are Democrat Jason Kander and the incumbent Republican Roy Blunt, in a race that is shaping up to be a surprise to the entire state.

The biggest news of the debate has been the intuitive Kander ad featuring the military veteran re-assembling an AR-15 assault rifle blindfolded. This in response to statements by Blunt attacking Kander’s support of background checks. The Washington Post called “the best ad of the election so far.” Roy Blunt’s response ad posits. “Some people can put together a gun blindfolded. Some do it really fast…. But only one of these is a Hillary Clinton national campaign chairman.”

In the race Kander’s strategy has been to paint Roy Blunt as a Washington insider “We can’t change Washington if we don’t change the people we send there.” said Kander in his opening ad. Another one claims “Blunt’s wife and three kids are all lobbyists.” Roy Blunt’s strategy has been to tie Blunt with high profile democrats. One ad asks “Jason Kander seems like a fresh face, but what’s underneath it?” before presenting images of Kanders image morphing into the faces of Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton.

Checking their websites, Roy Blunt touts issues such as “Enforce Our Immigration Laws” and “Stop Government Overreach.” Jason Kander, “Advocating for Veterans and Military Families”, and “Holding Politicians Accountable.”

Missouri has been a long standing red state, but in 2012, an assured victory for Republican Todd Akin was shaken. The senator was caught voicing some unconventional justifications for his pro-life stance. Arguing that in the event of a rape “the female body has a way of shutting itself down.” Akin became a figure of mockery across the nation and the race made a surprise turn for the previously unfavored Claire McCaskill.

Red Missouri again has again taken an unexpected dive in a blue senator’s direction, and again the race is being spread nationwide, with Kander’s unique ad being covered all over media. The previous Blunt shoe-in has been made much more unpredictable, with the likelihood of the state electing it’s second simultaneous Democratic Senator being surprisingly high.

The three respected Election “Race Ratings”, Cook Political Report, Sabato’s, and Rothenberg and Gonzales, have all called the race a toss-up. “This race will be decided by a few thousand votes,” said former state senator Scott Rupp, Republican, “It’s going to be tight.”

Why Ken Bone, Undecided Voter Is the Man America Needs

During the second presidential debate in St Louis, there were many talking points and issues shared between the two candidates. But if the internet is to be believed, the biggest presence at the debate was a completely ordinary man name Kenneth Bone.

During the debate a chubbier balding man wearing a red sweater asked an uninteresting question about coal energy and then remained quiet. Perhaps it was his name, his distinctive choice in fashion, or his completely average middle-Americanism, but soon twitter was glowing with discussion and fandom for the “#BoneZone”. CNN called him “the man who won the second presidential debate.”

The media might be tempted to file Bone as a nonsense internet meme. Similar to “Dat Boi” or the messianic cult of Harambe the Gorilla, but Bone is more than that. Ken Bone is a symbol of dissatisfaction with the political election. Ken Bone is a placing of ordinary working class people above politicians. The portly undecided voter is not a non-answer to politics. He is the answer.

After his initial appearance, we’ve learned a lot about Ken, and this has only deepened the internet’s fascination with the mustachioed Missourian. A worker at a coal plant, a former drummer in a christian rock band, and a volunteer and supporter of local homeless charity the St. Patrick Center. (He’s since promoted the charity in interviews and proceeds for all of his merchandise and products he’s endorsed go to it.)

In interviews, Bone has shown a humility, an open mindedness and a sense of humor which the race has been severely lacking. In a Q&A session on the website Reddit, Bone explained “I’m sorry you’re confused, Ken Bone is the cable knit sweater wearing a fat guy.”

The obvious question is whether Mr Bone is running for president, with only weeks remaining in the race. Unfortunately Bone has explained why he can’t. “I know I look old cause I’m fat and bald and dress like it’s 1954, but I’m only 34 and ineligible to run! There are over 2000 legally registered candidates… Get your voice out there for one of them.”

In this cutthroat race, though, no-one has gone unscathed, and yes that includes even Ken Bone. In the same QnA he did on reddit, he used his usual browsing account, revealing in his long posting history two off color jokes and a defense of Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman. Questioned on the blunder Bone said “It was a bad call. I need to fire my agent, except I can’t because I’m my agent.”

Unlike our politicians though, Ken Bone has owned up for his mistakes. He’s apologized for the jokes, and explained his comment about Zimmerman came not from a place of malice but his understanding of the law. Even if the media says otherwise, Bone hasn’t done anything you wouldn’t forgive in a friend.

One of the most admirable actions by Bone has been not to reveal his voting decision. “I’m close, but I will not be announcing my decision. I want you to all make up your own minds.” Bone isn’t arrogant enough to speak for anyone else, and his newfound fame doesn’t change anything for him. At every turn, after every question and every peek into his life, Bone has proven to be a better symbol of an America we should strive for, than anything the two candidates have brought up. #BoneZone.