Thursday, August 6, 2015

Resources for August 6, 2015

ZeroZeroZeroZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An exhaustive and exhausting portrayal of the violent global cocaine industry. My copy was a free advanced uncorrected proof sent to me because of my review of Saviano's first masterpiece Gomorrah (portraying the Naples-based organized crime clans of Camorra) which served as the basis for Matteo Garrone's superb Italian film of the same name. That book was a riveting, dramatic, interweaving look at the realities of this influential underground society and its ties to respectable global businesses. The narrative was honed to perfection and its various stories worked to create a bigger story. Zero Zero Zero has the same shocking impact as we learn the far-flung activities of the cocaine trade, some of the major players over the years, and codes/violence of the various clans that seek to rule the trade. Unfortunately this copy (and it may be corrected in the revised editions) is often overrun by too many characters squeezed in at once and the juggling of multiple narratives within a chapter is confusing at times. Having said that there are the flashes of brilliance of the first book. Particularly relevant for this moment, and in mind the best part of the book, is the story of the rise of the Mexican cartels, especially the recently escaped El Chapo (after the book's narrative), the rise of the hyper-violent Zetas, and the moralistic codes of the La Familia Michoacan. I would imagine the book is essential for those studying the cocaine industry or global crime organizations, but, unfotunately, for this reader, the stories became somewhat repetitive in their listing of deeds and violence (it should not be a surprise that the insanely profitable underground cocaine industry is dominated by those willing to engage the most terrifyingly violent tactics). The connections to above-ground businesses is clear (especially the complicty, if not dependence of, major banks upon the influx of money laundering funds), but not as strong as in the previous book Gomorrah. Perhaps it is unfair to expect this book to live up to the previous one and it should be pointed out that Saviano has spent the last eight years under the constant protection of the Carabinieri because of the publication of the first book made him a target for revenge. The extent of the trade and the incredible global consumption of cocaine did shock me -- leaving me to wonder why this is not made more clear to the public. It also reminded me once again how hypocritical (in that generally the victims are small timers and they keep giving a pass to banks that aid the drug clans) and absurd the American government's devasting and damaging drug war really is ....

View all my reviews

Palast, Greg. "Cops Gun Down Unarmed Journalist's Career: LA Times fires Ted Rall – evidence blows up in newspaper’s face." Reader Supported News (August 5, 2015)

The End Of The Line (trailer) from Wilder Productions on Vimeo.

Simons, Daniel. "Attention." You are Not So Smart #1 ((April 24, 2012)

Chabris, Christopher. "The Illusion of Knowledge." You Are Not So Smart #2 (May 9, 2012)

Jones, Kent. "Critical Condition." Film Comment (March/April 2014)

Paoletti, Dennis. "Noise." 99% Invisible #1 (September 3, 2010) ["This episode of 99% Invisible is all about acoustic design, the city soundscape, and how to make listening in shared spaces pleasant."

Carilli, Craig. "Paramedic Shares Awesome Facebook Post About Minimum Wage Increase." The Good Life (2015)

Bull, Henrik. "180." 99% Invisible #2 (September 9, 2010) ["In the beginning, former AIA-SF president Henrik Bull and the Transamerica Pyramid did not get along. The building was an affront to late 1960’s modernist ideals. It was silly. It looked like a dunce cap. Its large scale had no respect for the neighborhood in which it lived. But over 40 years, something happened…"]

Bacal, Edward. "Sharon Lockhart and Steve McQueen: Inside the Frame of Structural Film." Cineaction #91 (2013)

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