Friday, May 30, 2008

The Northern and Southern California culture divide: explained!

My friend Tony N. just moved to the city of Oakland, CA from Pasadena, CA a few weeks back. Coincidentally, I just started working in Oakland and discovered the most amazing farmer's market a few blocks away from his neighborhood. The honey vendor told me about how he can actually walk up to the hives and take the honey without any protection (but only during certain seasons when they aren't too pissy), there was a Mexican woman selling a massive selection of really good aguas frescas, and nearly four Indian food vendors were giving away samples like it was going out of style. I decided to call and alert Tony about this.

Me: Dude! Did you know about the farmer's market next to where you live? It's a really good one!

Tony: Do they have Big Macs there?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


You know you've made an ass of yourself at karaoke night, yet again, when you find yourself booty dancing to Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red" on a tabletop, taking a nap on the floor, performing more than one Meatloaf duet, or choosing to sing this song with a team of backup dancers:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today's Best Pictures Ever

Don't Mess With Strong Enemy: 101 year-ld Myrtle Strong Enemy, the oldest woman in the Crow Nation, waited for Senator Obama to speak at Crow Agency, Montana yesterday. (Reuters)

Budweiser+ boating races= this: Joe Peroceschi is thrown from his boat at a Budweiser-sponsored drag boat race in Wappapello Lake, Missouri. (Reuters)

Aliens agree, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is hot: Aerial view of a soy field with a drawing of the President in a rural area outside Parana City. (Reuters)

You're gonna poke somebody's eye out: A dried blue whale penis is mounted and displayed at the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Husavik. (Reuters)

F**ked up beyond words: Hello Kitty holds her certificate of ambassadorship given by Japan's Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, left, at his office in Tokyo on Monday. (AP)

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Song Dedication

Today hundreds of Washington University students in St.Louis had to sit at their graduation ceremony with their backs turned as the anti-feminist female Joe McCarthy, Phyllis Schlafly, received an honorary doctorate for reasons unclear. Apparently Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" had also received one, so the university must be getting pretty desperate to award these things to any recognizable name in politics. Among the crazed paleocon stances Mrs. Schlafly has taken--a hard line against the possibility that a married woman can be raped by her husband. Here's some quality excerpts from her interview with the university's student newspaper:

What do you mean when you say, "Feminists want women to think that they can't succeed"?

Everything that they are teaching in Women's Studies and in those courses is that women are victims and that marriage is unfair to women and that it makes them second-class, that men are naturally batterers and that if you get married you'll probably get beaten up. It's a dreary picture that they paint for women of the life of a married women or a mother.

Could you clarify some of the statements that you made in Maine last year about martial rape?

I think that when you get married you have consented to sex. That's what marriage is all about, I don't know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn't mean the husband can beat you up, we have plenty of laws against assault and battery. If there is any violence or mistreatment that can be dealt with by criminal prosecution, by divorce or in various ways. When it gets down to calling it rape though, it isn't rape, it's a he said-she said where it's just too easy to lie about it.

Right. The institution of marriage did not originate as a contract binding a woman to man in indentured servitude. And rape is all about sex and attraction, not violence against women--keep telling yourself that you amoral hell beast.

I can't be too hard on the old gal. I mean, it's fairly obvious she's been living with senile dementia for a long time and no one has had the heart to break it to her. But--and I don't know much about the woman--she seems to have had similar views for the good majority of her political career--campaigning for Goldwater, her work with the AEI, and of course her unnecessary zeal for killing the establishment of the Equal Rights Amendment. In which case, I'd have to say "Lady, you're lookin' mighty old there. Countin' the days when folks like you become extinct like the dinosaurs. And by the way, here's a little song I'd like to dedicate to you, hope you like it:

This just in: a special message from Jay

My friend Jay B. in sunny Los Angeles, California, emailed several friends the following bulletin:

I'm issuing this bulletin to request that everyone reading it boycott the movie "What Happens In Vegas" starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz.

I have no political or sociological objections to the content of this film. I just think it looks fucking stupid. I don't think people should see it. I don't even know anyone who wants to see it. Everyone says it looks lame.

If it were sexually explicit or excessively violent I'd be all for going. I'm so sick of things being boycotted on depravity. Depravity is fine. Ashton Kutcher in a romantic comedy titled after a commercial that carries an implied endorsement of adultery isn't. I wish he'd quit making movies and just do hot dog commercials or something.

So I call for everyone boycott "What Happens in Vegas" because it looks really silly, it's PG-13, and its designed to appeal to everyone.

And that just offends me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

(Image taken outside of SF City Hall, circa 2004)

Gay Marriage Legal in California!

Hooooraaaay!!! The California Supreme Court lifted the ban on gay marriage today, exactly one year to the day that hatemongering evangelist Jerry Falwell kicked the bucket. I hope he's turning over in his grave--scratch that, I hope he's going ape shit as his decaying corpse vainly attempts a few primal screams, his skeleton demon hands feebly trying to scratch his way out of a million dollar casket.

From the LA Times:

The reaction to today's ruling outside the courthouse in San Francisco was one of jubilation as couples, once denied marriage, hugged, kissed, shouted and shook their fists at the sky. Holding up a sign that says, "Life feels different when you're married," Helen Pontac said she was beyond words.

"Oh, wow," she said. "It felt so good when we got married in San Francisco. This feels better."

She hugged her partner Shelly Bailes. "The best day of my life was when I met Helen," Bailes said. "This was as good as that."

Of course, opponents will try to overturn this ruling in November, but, for now, more than 100,000 same sex couples--a quarter of which have children--can rejoice and share a collective sigh of relief.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Goodbye foam, hello summer!

The warm weather yesterday, in my own mind, marked the first day of summer. I didn't have to wear a heavy coat when I went out at night--a light jacket would suffice. There was even talk of a heat wave. And I could ride my bike with a light sweater, sandals, and jeans that didn't hit my ankles. No layers? Crazy!

I'm always looking for signs of changing seasons here in wishy washy fancypants San Francisco. In the springtime, I am easily angered by the random warm and sunny days. Because everyone here knows that you will atone for the sins of enjoying nice weather the very next day, cursing the unreliability of weathermen as you fight against gale force winds and endless drizzle for the entire week to follow.

But before I cautiously move the heavy coats and boots and hats into areas less accessible, I'd like to reminisce about one night in December when I thought it had snowed. Somehow an entire city block (and nothing else) seemed to be covered in snow. One of the men from the fire department informed me that it was actually foam that had been sprayed on a few buildings that had caught fire. I was still excited by the aesthetics of the white, blanketed appearance of the street though, and took a few pictures:

LOL Phenomena

I'm always the last to know about popular internet trends and phenomena (see: Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Dramatic Gopher, Chocolate Rain, etc etc), so it comes as no surprise that I am just now discovering LOL Cats and a culture that makes light of vile grammatical atrocities.

First, LOL mocked cats:

Then, all animals:

And then, Renaissance manuscripts:

Now, Derrida:


That is all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oh Bill O'

You are such a mental patient. If people like you are able to become ringleaders of our corporate media circus, we live in a crazy world indeed...

This vintage clip of his meltdown on "Inside Edtion" was just posted on Gawker:

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

(Side note: Youtube took this clip down and I had to find it on instead. Just makes you wonder what other types of videos they're censoring these days.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Uh-uh. Oh hell no--I am not wearing that.


Several years ago, I read an article by The Onion about fashion trends. The headline went something like, "Fashion trends running out of decades to replicate." This whole "steampunk" movement proves that "America's Most Trusted News Source" was quite correct indeed. Devout followers of this trend are actually dressing up in clothes that are supposed to look like they've been scavenged from an alternative vision of the Victorian Era, or a post-apocalyptic dystopian world where the Industrial Revolution held out a while longer and used steam power rather than electricity. So basically, the "steam" part is used to reference some kind of whack historical context, while the "punk" part refers to the DIY, underground element.

The NYT describes it as such:

...a subculture that is the aesthetic expression of a time-traveling fantasy world, one that embraces music, film, design and now fashion, all inspired by the extravagantly inventive age of dirigibles and steam locomotives, brass diving bells and jar-shaped protosubmarines. First appearing in the late 1980s and early ’90s, steampunk has picked up momentum in recent months, making a transition from what used to be mainly a literary taste to a Web-propagated way of life.

So apparently, to some folks, "steampunk" is about more than just fashion. This whole "movement" seems a bit strange to me, although I love some of the culture surrounding it. Loved "City of the Lost Children," "Brazil" etc. And the stories of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are quite exciting, sure. Also really enjoyed that whole pseudo-Victorian aesthetic the Smashing Pumpkins seemed to be going for when they put out the album MelonCollie and the Infinite Sadness. I guess you could call what they were doing in the '90s steampunk. Right? Tell me the video for "Tonight, Tonight" does not fit that description:

I think the fanatics of this movement are a bit ridiculous though. The mania surrounding it seems to attract the type that have the sensibilities of a Renaissance Fair geek. I think I'll hold off on the corsets, goggles and brass flair for now, thank you very much.

Here's a parody (? I am hoping) of a steampunk enthusiast by Merlin Mann. Enjoy:

Steampunk DIY from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Indiana and North Carolina agree: Clinton not Obama-sistible

You're goin down lady! Waaaay down!!!!! BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

No but seriously. It's over. Backing the gas tax holiday? Every notable economist has been writing this off as a giveaway to the oil companies--not consumers as she claims. Why doesn't Clinton just announce she wants to be McCain's running mate? Hammering on about Jeremiah Wright? Get over it lady, old news that has absolutely nothing to do with Barack Obama. Nothing.

But she won Indiana you say? She still needs 68% of the remaining delegates to get the nomination. Obama only needs 36%. Let David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, break it down for you.

She might as well just run on the Republican ticket anyways (obviously she can campaign/mudsling like one). Her gas tax stance, coupled with her hawkish voting record (i.e., voting for the war, voting for continued use of cluster bombs, siding with Republicans against banning land mines, and supporting coal companies' mountain top removal practices) gives us the portrait of a lady more aligned with the military industrial complex and big business than a "populist" politician that can talk like a southerner and take a few Jaager shots.

Yeah, she's a real "everyman." Dumping millions into her campaign from her seemingly never-ending pocket book.

Nice try lady, but it's over.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This used to be my playground.


The other night I was watching the Daily Show and had a childhood flashback brought on by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid was on the show to push his new memoir, The Good Fight: Hard Lessons From Searchlight to Washington (excerpt here). You see, I lived in the town of Searchlight, NV at age 5. It was my kindergarten year in the desert. And it seems like nothing more than a dream whenever I look back on it.

My mother and stepfather at the time were both in the gaming industry, and my step-grandad (an attorney from Napa) had property in Searchlight for some reason, so we lived in one of his homes for a while. It was one of perhaps six or seven houses among scatterings of trailer homes. The population at this time was around 200 people.

About one hour's drive east of Vegas and teetering on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Searchlight has always seemed like a fantasy world to me, where danger and excitement lurked around every corner. Basically, I was scared shitless on many an occasion. Looking back on it now though, I only see all of the fun things that us kids could explore.

Searchlight was named after a brand of matches. Gold was found there in 1897, and by 1940, a total of about $4.5 million in gold was found in the area. There was a point when Searchlight was larger than Las Vegas, and the coal industry was booming.

When I lived there, abandoned coal mines were our playgrounds, and water towers were always fun to climb. There was an old wooden shack across the street from our house that looked like it could have been a saloon from Wild West days. I would stare at it from my bedroom window in equal parts awe and terror, imagining all the ghosts pent up inside. Me and my stepbrother would rummage through it all the time and find green and gray glass bottles that must have dated back to around 1oo years.

I remember climbing through an old cement truck and almost getting stuck inside one day. This was probably one of my first moments of mortal dread. But there would be many others.

Another favorite pastime was chasing lizards. They came in all shapes and sizes, and I'll never forget following a big green one that was around four feet long through a trailer park one day, along with at least five other children.

The first time I saw owls was in Searchlight; I could hear them in the trees at night. The first day we moved into our new home, a florescent orange-striped snake slithered beneath our building, much to the alarm of our German Shepard. Oh, and then there were the tarantulas.

The tarantulas were probably three times the size of my tiny child hands, and I was more afraid of them than dying in a cement truck. My parents told me they hid in the dark and wouldn't come out when it was light out. I clung to this tidbit of information, refusing to turn off a very bright ceiling lamp in my room every single night before I went to bed.

My schoolhouse, serving K-12 with two teachers, had two rooms. I recall eating Hungry-Man meals on my desktop, skipping double dutch at break, and walking down a hill to our library housed in a small trailer. The convenience store served as our grocery store when mom was too busy to make the trek to Vegas. We ate a lot of ice cream, and used the empty cartons to capture tarantulas.

Now I'm left really wanting to read Reid's memoir. Here's an excerpt about Searchlight:

It's an interesting man who makes his way to the middle of nowhere seeking his life and fortune. That's what my grandfather, John Reid, did, when he was drawn to Searchlight from California just after the turn of the century. And that, of course, is also the story of our country--a certain vagabond spirit, in the best sense of that word. The middle of nowhere is a hard place to live. So many of our fathers were drunks, and some of our mothers as well.

When I was a kid I didn't realize Searchlight was the middle of nowhere. I figured everybody on earth lived like we did, and I thought my town was the center of the known universe. The landscape, scarred with hundreds of claims, some active, many abandoned, was so interesting to a boy looking for adventure.

Sometimes I feel like a cat with only a few more lives to go.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bodies of Water

Last night I caught these guys at the Great American Music Hall and it was glorious. Short, but glorious (they only have one album). If I could describe them in two words: awesome + sincere. When singer Meredith Metcalf says she is "having such a good time. This is so much fun!" you believe her with all of your heart. We got to hang out with some of the members next to their tour bus after their set, and they were the nicest group of folks in a rock band you could possibly meet. One of the drummers, Jessie, was so intent on remembering my name that I was touched.

Jessie: Oh, so your name is sounds like what they give know, what you get when...

Me: I think you're thinking of chlamydia?

Jessie: know, a judge can give someone...

Me: Oh. Amnesty. Yeah, it's like that.

I like the song below because the beginning reminds me of "rawhide." Lots of their songs seem to have epic Western undertones that sound really powerful live.

I need a new hobby

The other day I was reading about Chen Si, a man in Nanjing, China, who visits the Nanjing Bridge every weekend to hunt down and prevent people from jumping off the edge to their death. Over the past fours years he claims to have saved 144 lives.

The 39 year-old shipping manager told the NYT back in '04: "It is very easy to recognize [potential jumpers]. "A person walks without spirit."

According to some estimates, suicide is the leading cause of death for Chinese between aged 15 to 34. Reports claim that 1,000 people have killed themselves by leaping from the "Chinese bridge of death" since it was opened 40 years ago as a symbol of communist might. According to the LA Times, official estimates put China's annual suicide rate at 280,000--twice the number of U.S. deaths per year.

According to a story about Si in 2004, he had saved 42 people. Four years later, he reports 102 more potential jumpers stopped in their tracks. At one point he made and distributed pamphlets listing his personal cellphone number as an emergency hot line. He chronicles this weekend obsession, and the emotional turmoil it has put him through, and there is talk that it may be turned into a book.

I live by a bridge that people like to fling themselves off of, too. All I need is quality binoculars, running shoes, and some fresh Krispy Kreme donuts. Not for me, for the jumpers. Who's with me?