Jun 8, 2012

[REVIEW] Lee Camp's "Moment of Clarity"


I first came to know of comedian/political satirist Lee Camp last year while listening to Jay Tomlinson's Best of the Left podcast (Click here to subscribe now!).  BotL is a collection of various clips of political talk shows, podcasts and other observers on the progressive side of the political aisle, and I've discovered several good progressive shows and people through that podcast including Camp, Jim Hightower and David Pakman.

I always liked Camp because not only was he being very funny, but also he was taking on the serious political issues of the day while giving those that are involved in the issues (Politicians, talk show hosts, etc) the proper amount of sarcasm and derision with a healthy dose of profanity throughout, while also providing a clean safe-ish for work edition as well.

Listening to Lee over the last six or seven months or so and watching his youtube videos in his "Moment of Clarity" series I've been struck by how well he's able to put things into context.  By drawing analogies to things that we all can relate to, by bringing some complex issues dealing with the various political machinations and economic policies and even the environment, as well as LGBT issues into the realm of comprehension for everyone, no matter how politically savvy you may be.

There are some of them that are laugh out loud funny, and there are those which are dead serious subjects, but he's able to inject a sort of humor to it that falls into the category of "laugh to keep from crying".   Things that we see in society that just makes us weep for the future.  Things that make us angry.  I mean Howard Beale angry.  The kind of angry where we don't want to just throw open the windows and scream "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore", but you want to kick open the doors of Washington and scream some sense into everyone that seems to be screwing things up.

Lee Camp gives a voice to everyone that feels that rage inside us at the everyday fuckery that we see go on, and yet feel powerless.   When we can't find the words for it, Lee inevitably does.  When we can't find the right way to frame something for friends or co-workers or family members to express just WHY something is wrong, Lee comes along and seems to always be able to put it into the simplest yet extraordinarily cogent way and causes you to sit back and slap your forehead and say "Of COURSE! That's perfect!"

                                              MORE AFTER THE BREAK

Recently Lee had a contest on his site (www.leecamp.net) where he posted his newest video and asked people to simply comment and get a chance to win one of three copies of his new book "Moment of Clarity", and I was fortunate enough to be one of the three.

I'm not someone who wins a lot of things, so I was surprised and pleased at this.  Pleasantly surprised I suppose.  When it got here I thought that it was very well produced for an indie release.  This isn't with a major publishing house or anything like that, he put it out himself in physical book form as well as Ebook form for the Kindle, which you can get either at Amazon's Kindle store or you can buy it directly from him via his website if you don't want to support Amazon.

Reading through the book I am struck by a few things.   One is how well the entire book is packaged.  As I mentioned this is an indie release and yet it looks just like any other softcover book that you'd see released from a major house.  I've seen some indie releases and they, while being nice, are clearly indie releases.   This is very professionally done and is a fantastic release, appearance wise.

Inside is much the same, but I thought it was interesting that the book, which collects the transcripts of the various Moments of Clarity over the last year or so was his inclusion of the youtube links to each and every video that is featured in the book. So you can type the short youtube links into your web browser, and then you can watch the video of the MOC that you are reading at that moment. The E-Book version has embedded links allowing you to go directly to the video as well.

I thought that was a brilliant addition and adds a nice flourish to it that I'm sure will be adopted in the future by other people who move into the social media world more and more.

The Moments of Clarity all cover a variety of topics in the political and social world while dealing mostly with political corruption.   Topics ranging from our education system to Occupy Wallstreet, from police brutality to Wall Street, from Climate Change to Corporate Greed and so on.  All done with his trademark sarcasm and occasional profanity while never wavering from his consistent message:  Things are fucked up.  But we CAN fix things.   Things are stacked against us, but we CAN make a difference.

This isn't like Obama's now dampened ideal of "Yes we Can" but more of a "Yes we can if...."   If we can get money out of politics.  If we can get people to stand up to injustice.  If we can somehow get the powers that be to stop beating and arresting us those of us standing up to injustice.  Bubbling just under the surface of all of Lee's rage and anger at the corporate and political machines that are constantly screwing us over, is this hope and belief that we can get things to a better place.   If only WE can make it happen.

At least that's what I take from it.   I was struck by a passage in his introduction that really hammered that home for me, which I will quote verbatim here.  In the introduction, Lee wrote the following:

"This book is dedicated to the millions around the world who have stood up in the past year.  Some have died, some have been pepper sprayed, some have been arrested, some have been detained indefinitely like Private Bradley Manning.  I've had friends arrested for chanting, dancing, tweeting, and sitting.  And others have been beaten in the head with police batons.  But in the end, the unimaginatively wealthy who defend the ravaging of this world will have their money, but as the band The Darlings say, "well have a soul"

The Mayans said the world ends in 2012.  That's because another world is possible."

And that, I think kind of hints at my personal attitudes.  While I have a very cynical and pessimistic attitude about things ever changing, I still have that hope inside me.  I still have that something that believes in the better of people, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.   I have to believe that.  Because without that belief...without that desperate cling to hope... we will truly be a lost world.   And that's something I can't imagine, nor do I want to.

Below I've embedded some of Lee's videos that I personally have found interesting and educational and I hope you enjoy them as well.

NOTE: He switched video filters a few months back.  I really liked the shade filter or whatever he used in the past, which is in at least one of the videos below.  Hopefully that makes a comeback in the future.  Or maybe I'm the only one that liked it. 

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