Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"shouting fire: stories from the edge of free speech" documentary review

last night i watched "shouting fire: stories from the edge of free speech," a documentary that premiered at the sundance film festival last year. while the premise - our civil liberties have been under assault since 9/11 - is facile, vapid, and rote, don't pass up the film. our first amendment rights have been under assault continually from the birth of the republic: check out the alien and sedition act that opened the 19th century, or the criminal prosecutions of those who spoke out against the first world war, or the clamp-down on vietnam war protesters. what makes "shouting fire" well-worth watching is the important history lessons it brings to life.

politics aside, it has an obvious leftist bias, everyone must fight for his freedom of expression - or risk losing it through indifference. the irony here is the documentary unintentionally highlights the evils of political correctness. anytime someone has her right to speak curtailed - regardless of the undoubtedly pure motives of the censor - we all lose (it may only be a matter of time before the wheel eventually turns to your out-dated view of the world). "silence is the enemy," to borrow a line from the new green day album.

the high point of liz garbus' documentary is the interview she does with her father, first amendment attorney martin garbus (interspersed throughout the film). his comments on (and the archival footage of) the pentagon papers case, alone, bring to life a seminal moment in first amendment jurisprudence. his eyewitness account of how the documents found their way into print, followed by his recount of the question and answer at the supreme court at oral argument (on whether to restrain further publication) was riveting. this segment was reason enough to watch the film!

the familiar complaints from the left (to support the premise of the post 9/11 apocalypse) played out with vignettes of the persecution of ward churchill, the lost principal-ship of debbie almontaser, and the wholesale arrest of protesters at the 2004 republican convention in nyc. while these are legitimate grievances, the brief is just as easily made in a non-partisan way. that approach, given political speech is most often the target of suppression, would have made this film an even more powerful viewing experience.

Monday, June 29, 2009

50 years ago today, supreme court held new york law barring film of "lady chatterley's lover" unconstitutional

on june 29, 1959, the supreme court held in kingsley international pictures corp. v. regents, that a new york state law that granted the board of education the power to issue licenses to, among other things, exhibit films - was unconstitutional. in this little cited decision, the supreme court extended core first amendment protections to films.

the court reversed the new york state board of regents decision that concluded the 1955 french film ("l'amant de lady chatterley"), while not obscene, "alluringly presents adultery as acceptable behavior." this was the same year that the u.s. postmaster general seized copies of the grove press edition of the book as obscene. that seizure was overturned by a new york district court judge.

in kingsley, justice stewart wrote for the court that "sexual morality" was an entirely different concept (and protected speech) than concepts of obscenity or pornography (neither of which is protected speech). justice stewart noted that the new york state law sought to regulate advocacy of opinion and expression - core first amendment guarantees.

in a coincidence, tonight hbo airs "shouting fire: stories from the edge of free speech" - check it out!

and if lady chatterley and her travails are more your cup of tea, check out charles rembar's classic, "the end of obscenity: the trials of lady chatterley, tropic of cancer, and fanny hill" - a book i'm constantly tempted to get down from my bookshelf and reread.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 norwalk summer series 5 miler: race report

the second race of the 2009 norwalk summer series, the 5 miler, is in the books. on the sunny morning more than 160 runners finished the hilly loop that began and ended at the cranbury elementary school. that number might even have been greater, but the fairfield half marathon was the next morning so saturday may have been a rest day for a few runners that would have otherwise run the 5 miler (but it didn't stop some runners from doing both races).

while i didn't have a particular time goal in mind, i wanted to finish in under 34 minutes. a sub-6:50 pace would hit that target. this was my 5th summer series 5 miler and i was familiar with the hilly, loop course. last year i ran a personal worst of 37:32 for the race. that was more than 5 minutes slower than my personal best for the course! i didn't want to (and didn't think i would) repeat that experience today!

the first mile went by in 6:42 - right on target. i missed the split for mile 2 (which was probably at the first water stop) and reached mile 3 in exactly 20 minutes (13:18 for the last 2 miles). this was still on target, but i felt myself slow down in mile 4, which took 7:03. mile 5 was a carbon copy of mile 4 - i was unable to pick up my pace, and it took another 7:03 to run. my 34:06 finish was a 6:50 pace, just a bit too slow to finish under 34 minutes.

the disappointment didn't last long. post-race perks included watermelon, great bagels, and ice cream (the good humor toasted almond brought me back to my own elementary school days). there were also massages available. post-race socializing (emmy, rob, kate, don, roy, amy, don, jim, marty, sherry, anton, joe, evan, brian, sean, ikuko, and jeanette - is just a partial list of the amazing cast of characters) and the awards ceremony rounded out the morning.

race three, the 7 miler, is in two weeks.

but the big "must run" race next weekend is the putnam county classic!! emmy and her co-race director, lee, have worked for months to put together an awesome event - don't miss it!!

here are my race photos.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 norwalk summer series 5 miler: race photos and results

race number two in the norwalk summer series is in the books. great weather contributed to what may have been a record turn-out this sunny and dry morning! finished the hilly 5 miler in 34:06, a 6:50 pace. it was a slightly disappointing finish because i had no kick in the last mile and couldn't bring squeak in under 34 minutes.

here is my race report and a link to the race results.

here are some race photos:

pre-race: john, amy, sean, and ikuko

pre-race: emmy, "do i really have to race today?"

pre-race: rob, "okay, i'll lace up for the race."

post-race: emmy and rob, "did we just race?"

john, finishing.

john, done!

amy and sherry.

sean, finishing.

don and jim.

marty, collecting race tags.

amy, sherry, and brian.

post race perk: ice cream!

john and amy.


rob, emmy, and john.

anton and kate.

don announcing awards (brian called up).

jim, anton, and joe (amy, rob, and john in background).

me :D

Friday, June 26, 2009

summer solstice 15k trail run: race report

race report is probably a bit of a stretch to describe the road trip rob, emmy, and i took wednesday night to run the summer solstice 15k trail run in new paltz. our plan had been to meet up with our friend myriam at the gilded otter and drive over to the minnewaska state park together. little did we know when we started off on our driving adventure that we'd finally arrive, after traffic jams and rain squalls, 40+ minutes after the race started! of our group, myriam was the only one who actually got to run the race!

but i've gotten ahead of myself. after emmy picked me up we, drove up i-684 to meet rob at the bedford exit. after all was said and done (thanks to heavy traffic and rain) we didn't leave from bedford until 5:15 - well behind schedule. emmy had called myriam to keep her apprised of our glacial progress (but on the positive side, they hadn't gotten any of the heavy rains we had driven through up in new paltz). a few miles up (before i-84) we were again stopped in bumper to bumper traffic.

so we exited the highway and took back roads to reach i-84. except for more rain showers, we had good driving conditions from that point. sadly, helga, rob's gps device, calculated our arrival time to be well after the start. in a reversal of our road trip to nipmuck (we arrived significantly ahead of helga's forecast), we arrived long after that dreary eta! in fact, within a half dozen miles of the park we were jolted to attention by a deer that jumped out of the woods and in front of our car! luckily, there was no damage aside from our seriously elevated heart beats and blood pressures!

once we reached the race staging area we sheepishly explained our woeful travails to the race director (who just happened to be soaked to the bone because a flash downpour arrived minutes before they started the race)! she gave us some quick course directions and told us to run the trail anyway - just get back before 9:00 o'clock when the park gates are locked up. it was roughly 7:15 when we set off and i was more concerned about finishing in 1:15 - before sunset - since we had no headlamps to guide us on the trail after dark!

from the brief description i had read about the course, i knew the first 3 miles would be a straight climb up to the ridge line. the next couple of miles would follow the ridge line and then a nice long, winding downhill, for the second half of the course. even following the sudden rain shower, it was incredibly humid - fog limited what would have been incredibly panoramic views from the summit. still, i took my camera along and managed to snap a bunch of great pictures as we climb up the first half.

the second half was a bit more stressful for me because we were pushed up against the quickly approaching twilight. even thought we easily ran a negative split (hard to write that for what was essentially a training run for us) once we began the descent, it seemed to to take forever to complete the course! amazingly, in the middle of the last mile we caught up to a race walker and her husband. despite my worries, we finished up in 1:18:14 - well before sunset (and with plenty of time to exit the park before the gates were locked).

myriam had already left by the time we returned to the staging area. they were half-way through the awards ceremony as we approached. emmy and rob each had a small piece of birthday cake (i saved my post-race calories for the gilded otter) before we made our way back to the car. we exited the park with hardly any time to spare - the gate was already partially closed (to block incoming traffic).

even with our re-hydration pit-stop at the gilded otter for one beer each (in 22 ounce glasses) we made the return trip home in half the time it took to drive up to new paltz!!

next year we will definitely be back (albeit with plans to start the road trip much, much earlier than we did this year).

here are my race (training run) pictures.

the gilded otter brewing company, new paltz

after rob, emmy, and i ran the summer solstice 15k course, we rehydrated at the gilded otter brewing company in new paltz. this was my second time at this great brewpub - last summer we stopped here after the allen ginsberg photo exhibit "beat and beyond" at the suny new paltz. while we only had time for "one" beer - they were 22 ounce glasses :D

the dusseldorf altbeir i tried was my second choice because no dunkelwiess was available (a dark wheat beer that i first tried at the evans brewing company this winter). the resourceful bartender, however, made an approximate substitute when he mixed the dusselforf in a tasting glass with heffenwiez! that was incredibly cool of him to do! rob had the rail trail pale ale and emmy went with their seasonal hefeweizen.

emmy and rob

our beers: rail trail pale ale, hefeweizen, dusseldorf altbeir

Thursday, June 25, 2009

summer solstice 15k trail run: race photos and resultsr

last night rob, emmy, and i took a road trip up to new paltz for the summer solstice 15k trail run in minnewaska state park. well because of traffic and repeated rain squalls along the way, we arrived 40+ minutes after the start of the race!

the rd graciously suggested we run the race anyway - and since we were already there, ran the course! despite the late start, we weren't the last finishers! afterwards, we rehydrated at the gilded otter :D

here is my race (training run) report.

here are the race results.

here are some photos i took:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

sean penn + jon krakauer on sundance channel "iconoclasts"

last weekend i watched the "sean penn + jon krakauer" episode of "iconoclasts." it was actually a rebroadcast of the first episode of season three (now in its 4th season) of the sundance channel original series, "iconoclasts." the episode retraced christopher mccandless' tragic journey into the alaskan wilderness - which was documented in krakauer's book, "into the wild," and then made into a quasi-documentary film by penn.

jon krakauer originally wrote up the mccandless story in an article for "outside" magazine. he expanded the article into a well-researched and documented account of mccandless' story in the book "into the wild." sean penn not only read the book, he read it twice in the same night - and immediately wanted to film the story. between that initial impulse and the first camera shot of the filming took a more than a couple of years - and is told in the opening part of the iconoclast episode.

penn and krakauer journey by car, train, helicopter and foot along the same road traveled by mccandless. in one hilarious vignette, we see the improbable "carding" of sean penn when he purchased a bottle kaluha (to mix white russians and make a toast to mccandless when they reach the bus)! penn's celebrity also sneaks in when he's greeted by fans at the hotel, as they checked in. but the only off-key element of the entire film is the ice-climbing coda tacked on at the conclusion?

and that isn't a rhetorical question! but for a huge fan of the book, and penn's film adaption (which i reviewed last year), that was a small tangent, well-worth enduring. seeing these two, and their thoughtful discussion about the merits of chris mccandless and his tragic journey made me want to reread the book (and rent the dvd again) - which i may do.

sundance channel is rebroadcasting the episode again tonight (6/24 at 8:00). try to catch it. if not, here is a short clip:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

rowayton father's day fun run: race report

not only was the rowayton father's day fun run a surprise addition to my race calendar, it was a complete surprise - in and of itself - until the afternoon before! an email from clubct mentioned it among the remaining june races and i couldn't believe my good fortune. sunday was looking like a non-race day: closed out of the father's day race in central park, mt. greylock trail half marathon too far away, branford 5 miler, again too far away for me to drive. but i did hope to drive over the tappan zee bridge and run the pearl river elk's father's day 4 miler. lo and behold, a great race to run in rowayton!

great race or not, it was absolutely lousy weather to start the morning! rain outside the window when i woke up, and more rain for the entire drive to rowayton via i-95. and if to underline the inauspicious start, when i got off exit 12, a sign posted just off the ramp announced that the southbound entrance was closed for construction! luckily, i didn't have to worry about that until the drive home! but things improved dramatically from there - first, the rain stopped. second, and more importantly, i didn't get lost on the short drive to the community center :D

gail was co-race director for the event. as i registered for the race, i was surprised to see john - who had also learned of the race from yesterday's email. then we saw another familiar face, darcy. but except for john and darcy, i didn't recognize anyone else in the small field. there were two races - the short course was one loop of the 2.2 mile course, and the long course was 4.4 miles (2 loops). the course was familiar because it was also the start and finish of the accelerate your life 5k (and incorporated the southern portion of the norwalk summer series 5 miler?).

just before the start, gail's co-director, erica, announced that because of the high (oppressive, also a good word choice here) humidity, anyone running the long course could drop down to the short course after the first loop. after my first loop, i almost toyed with that option! while the course is hilly (and especially scenic as it goes by the water), i was drenched in sweat within a half mile of the start. it's hardly much of an exaggeration to say it felt like running underwater! it took me 14:39 to complete the first 2.2 mile loop.

i ignored the urge to stop there, and continued on for the second loop. i slowed down a little the second time around, for a positive split of 14:49 and a 29:28 finish. i was pleasantly surprised to have maintained a 6:42 pace over the distance! i finished 7th overall and, 2nd in my age group. in a twist, instead of trophies or medals, we won tee shirts (which sported the above race logo).
john won his age group in the 2.2 miler, and darcy was the first woman finisher in the 4.4 miler!

what a great start to a wet and dreary father's day!

here are my race photos.

Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 greenburgh one mile fun run: race report

the 2009 edition of the greenburgh mile was my sixth time at this race in the last seven years! i've run all of them with katie - which alone, makes each one especially memorable for me. in the earlier years, i ran back after the first heat and ran side by side with katie as she did her mile. those races are, hands down, my favorite.

the race itself is as basic as it gets: a one mile straightaway parallel to the metronorth tracks, with the finish line at the hartsdale train station. the event has its own built-in plan for a warm-up - a brisk walk, jog, or run to the start line one mile south! as a sop to the humidity (but thankfully, no rain), katie and i warmed up with a walk instead of jog.

in a surprise, andy (the rd and owner of westchester road runner) let pat start the race with the horn and he started the timing clock. then they drove the lead vehicle ahead of the runners down to the finish. the first wave included the competitive runners (adults and teens alike), while the second wave featured parents running with baby strollers and the race walkers.

in the past years quarter-mile splits marked the course. this time around there were no markers. for the most part, after what was probably the first quarter mile, the pack stretched out into its approximate finish order. i didn't pass, nor was i passed, after settling into the 6th place in the string of runners ahead of me. my 6:02 was a big improvement from my 6:26 finish (a huge personal worst) in 2008, but well off my average times for this event.

afterwards, the results were tabulated (and opportunity seized by pat and katie to visit the adjoining farmers market and get some cupcakes) and awards were presented. katie's 8:39 finish took first place in her age group. i collected a bronze medal for the second place finish in my age group. a good time was had by all :D

here are my race photos.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

rowayton father's day fun run, 4.4 miles: race photos and results

just back from the rowayton father's day fun run (a choice between 2.2 or 4.4 miles). ran the 4.4 course in 29:28, a 6:42 pace, and came in 7th overall, 2nd in my ag. john won his ag in the 2.2 miler, and darcy was the first woman in the 4.4 miler!

her is my race report.

here are the results from clubct.

here are my race photos:




john and me.


gail, erica, and jim.