Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Torture: Let's Talk About it and Then Have Coffee

Tonight I added another successful outing to the Hammer Museum to the growing list. Tonight's event title was far from inviting: "Reckoning with Torture". An audience member suggested a change to this depressing moniker prior to their next forum. When you are as desperate to get out and do things as I am, even titles like that don't phase you. When your mind is open to the possibility that you will be surprised, you often are. That sounds like a "hippie" philosophy- must be a side effect of the Bikram yoga this morning.

I find it increasingly inexcusable that I'm not a Hammer member. I attend almost all of their public programs and can't even dole out the $50 yearly membership fee. I take advantage of the naive venue similar to the way a creepy old internet predator takes advantage of unsuspecting teenage girls. Yikes, I just compared myself to a creepy old internet predator. Never once did I pay to see the exhibits, and I admit that if I do visit the Hammer to see the art as opposed to attending an event, I will do so on Thursday when there is no admission charge. Go ahead, criticize away. Peg the title "unsupportive of public programming" on me.

The "Reckoning with Torture" event combined film clips, discussion from a panel and audience questions. The description of the talk on the Hammer website said:

Co-presented by PEN Center USA

The film Reckoning With Torture and the book The Torture Report present eyewitness and first-person reports by victims, perpetrators, dissenters, and investigators of the CIA’s White House-orchestrated interrogations in secret prisons around the world. Writer and activist Larry Siems, author of The Torture Report, and former military interrogator Matthew Alexander lead an evening of screenings and discussion. Learn more at

There, that just saved me from summarizing. The film mentioned in the above blurb, Reckoning with Torture, features a series of readings from people of all ages and walks of lives reading excerpts from court memos recounting dialogue from interrogators and detainees. After the discussion, the audience was invited to participate in these readings which would be included in the film. Still seeking my 15 minutes of fame, or in this case 15 seconds, I volunteered first. So, check out the website to see my Oscar-worthy performance. 

As a strange ending to the evening, the speaker urging us to participate in the film also invited us to treat ourselves to coffee and cookies in the lobby. I must say, it was some of the best decaf coffee I have tasted to date- the deep, dark tones in the flavor were unreal. Wish I knew where I could get my hands on some...

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