Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Murakami on Getz
(From the music issue of The Believer):

I have lost myself in many novels over the years, and been entranced by many jazz performances. Yet, for me, F. Scott Fitzgerald means "the novel," while Stan Getz is synonymous with "jazz"...

Of all Getz's works, my very favorite is the two-disc set recorded live at the Storyville jazz club in 1951...The rhythm of Al Haig, Jimmy Raney, Teddy Kotick, and Tiny Kahn is perfect: they come across straight and cool, yet their rhythm flows with the smoldering force of subterranean lava. Even so, Getz is far and away the best. Soaring like Pegasus, he sweeps away the clouds to reveal a single, blinding moment the bright panoply of stars. The music crashes against us in vivid waves, transcending time. What explains the power? It is because his melodies mercilessly awaken the pack of starving wolves each of our souls holds within itself. The breath of these beasts sinks wordlessly into the snow, so thick and white and beautiful you feel you could almost cut it with a knife. It is this that Stan Getz's music allows us to comtemplate, the fateful cruelty that lies shrouded in the deep forests of our souls.

Blood Count - Stan Getz

Monday, July 28, 2008

Looking for love in all the weird places

It's a modern day love story that's sure to prove classic one day: boy doesn't meet girl, opting to obsessively stare, from afar, on a New York City subway train. Boy then creates website, NYGirlOfMyDreams.com, in the hopes of taking Craiglist's "Missed Connections" concept to bored-Williamsburg-hipster graphic extremes, with clever captions of hip sketches to demonstrate ironic propriety, in the hopes that this novel idea will allow other NY hipsters to recognize the stylish attire of obsessed-upon girl, and pass the website's address on to someone who may know or is in fact assumed, "NYGirlOfMyDreams." The scheme actually works, and within 48 hours someone who knows the girl alerts the boy. Days later, boy meets girl and, according to reports, they "hit it off."

But then, just yesterday, an update from the Australian press on this epic love story of our times, the headline reads: New York Subway romance the end of the line

Alas, after international media coverage, a spot on "Good Morning America", and a movie adaptation in the works of the incident, their love is no more. After TWO epic months, the "subway soul mates" are no more.

--As ridiculous as I think this story is, I can't help but feel really sorry for Moberg, the boy, who sounds really sad in the few quotes he gave to the press. I mean, it seems like the girl used him for the media attention; the article paints her as a struggling actress opportunist. (Hayton is the girl's last name):

Hayton told The Sunday Telegraph that she is enjoying single life in New York, keeping busy with acting classes, working in two vintage clothing stores and as a waitress.

Last week she had a small role as a waitress in the long-running daytime soap "As The World Turns" and last year she was an extra in a "blink and you'd miss it" scene in the hit movie "Sex And The City."

"I just can't believe it happened. It feels like a long time ago," said Hayton.

Moberg, however, was still refusing to comment on the relationship.

"We've decided not to do any more press," he wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

R.I.P. Modern Classic Love Story of Our Times, R.I.P.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Batman in Dark Times

(Spoiler alert: there are no spoilers)

Last night I saw The Dark Knight and I'd like to think I know why it's blowing away all these box office records; I'd like to think it has nothing to do with the mystique of watching a newly-deceased young actor resurrected on the screen for one final performance.

I saw it all-American style: blown-up on the IMAX, larger than life, and with a brewsky in my hand. And I'll admit I needed it, as I tend to get really stressed out during action thrillers and horror films--not scared, mind you, just really stressed out. Many times I will catch myself yelling in hysterics: "can't you run any faster?!" "shit! are you trying to get killed?!?" --it just makes my blood pressure rise and I inevitably emerge from the darkened theater really nervous and shaky. This time around though, I had the beer, and two of my best friends beside me: Sarah V to my left with her can of Sparks, and Tessa B, with her hands on her ears the entire time (she can stand the sight of gore and violence, she just doesn't like to listen to it).

So Heath: yes, his performance was fantastic, despite my not wanting to like him in it. I really didn't want to like this demonic version of the Joker because I've always seen Jack Nicholson as the only person in that role--dancin' around to Prince with smoking-hot Vicky Vale runnin' around--that's how I'd like to remember the character and the Batman franchise in general. When Christian Bale came out on the scene I thought, 'what's American Psycho boy doin' thinking he can replace Michael Keaton?" --I thought he had this really machismo, Steven Segal-esque demeanor that totally turned me off to his version of Batman.

But different times call for different Batmans. In a post-9/11 world, this Batman is referred to as a "vigilante," fighting terrorists and eradicating evil. Although the word "terrorist" is only mentioned twice, the bulk of the action clearly echoes elements of the supposed "War" on Terror, i.e., the bombing of public spaces (the Joker implicitly threatening everyone as a suicide bomber throughout), various forms of torture and abuse, corporate crime, government corruption, surveillance of the citizenry, etc etc. (Speaking of corporate crime, the shots of the tops of skyscrapers in Hong Kong were absolutely breathtaking on the IMAX).

So we know there's going to be a showdown between the Batman and the Joker--no surprise there--but I really appreciated how, as the violence escalates and pressures mount to track down the elusive archenemy--there is this added element of introspection felt on behalf of the caped crusader and thus the audience. Unlike the "War" on Terror, the plight to protect the city of Gotham against the Joker and his henchmen is one of painstaking decision-making where lofty utilitarian ideals are challenged time and again. The rumination of the crusader conflicted by the surplus of collateral damage: what a concept.

And here's this "Joker," a modern-day Shiva of Hindu myth, seducing the world to total destruction through alluring flights of fancy. Like Shiva, he is "the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger" because his sadistic joy in death and destruction is fueled by an anarchist/nihilist ideology with an underlying ethical agenda. (Okay: spoiler alert) I call it "ethical" because of the dialogue between the Joker and Harvey Dent in the hospital, where he convinces Dent that chaos and chance are more fair and indiscriminate than law and order. He says something about how, when people hear about a gang member or a SOLDIER (emphasis mine) getting killed, they think nothing of it and it is accepted. Yet, when a policeman or a public official gets killed, that's a different story. He doesn't find that fair, and therefore he lives by a code of ethics of sorts whereby indiscriminate, unbridled chaos is the only means of restoring a functioning social structure.

The film also glimmers with allegorical scenarios of our times: when Batman yells at Denton not to kill one of the Joker's henchmen because he is a mental patient (umm..prison industrial complex commentary perhaps? incarceration vs. rehabilitation?) or when Batman has these surveillance-video specs on so that he can see what all the people in Gotham are doing all at once, yet he is trying to battle the Joker who is standing right in front of him (hello? the President's decision to tie up Homeland Security with wiretapping while not focusing on defending us effectively?)

And, although I hate to even go here and over-analyze, or even dare breach the romantic, flowery illusion of our dear Barack Obama and infer that he is somehow a "two-faced" imperfect pol, does this picture of the Dent character not remind us of the saccharine, platitudinous heart of the Obama campaign?

And with all the cliche Italian mobsters, black street thugs and arms dealers, et al in cahoots with global investment banks and government officials, the scene is set for a more profound message: there is no way to ultimately eradicate evil, just like, in the "War" on Terror, there is no ultimate way to eradicate terror.

There can be no doubt that the comic book-based blockbuster film is the paramount medium from which artists are effectively condemning and critiquing the American Empire and its discontents (fancy that, a medium once targeting hormonal teenage boys with superhero obsessions, now utilized to feed the masses with compelling war and social commentary).

Comic book stories like V for Vendetta and Iron Man have been around for decades. Why they are striking a chord with audiences right now, I would hope, has little to do with the explosive, action-packed spectacle or the top Hollywood names involved. I would hope it has everything to do with the much-needed catharsis of the zeitgeist.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Great Battle of Wesley Willis v Donna Summer

I think I've got a new neurological disorder--somebody alert the APA! I have TWO cases of the earworms (or as Oliver Sacks likes to call it "involuntary musical imagery"). The first, Donna Summer's "McArthur Park":

The other, Wesley Willis' "Rock n Roll McDonald's":

The Donna Summer is stuck pretty good you guys. So much so that I had a dream about it the other night. The following dialog occurred, in the dream, on the phone (this is all I can remember):

Unknown person: I can't come over I am camping. At McArthur Park.

Me: McArthur BART (an Oakland train stop)? Why would you camp at a BART station?

Unknown person: McArthur Park!

Me: I am hearing: McArthur BART.

Unknown person: McArthur Park! I'm at the park! It's melting in the dark!

(The end).

They say that songs stay in one's head because there is an element within the tune itself: the melodic structure is hard to follow, the lyrics don't make any sense; and the mind is left puzzled and trying to fit the pieces together. In this case I think the problem has to do with the latter explanation. Probably the part where Summer says something about a "yellow cotton dress foaming like a wave" or "birds like tender babies in your hand" or the cake with green frosting melting in the rain. I've sung this song to people and they don't believe that these are the actual lyrics. But they are--watch the video.

With the Wesley Willis, I think it's the pre-programmed Casio country beat, especially the middle instrumental segment. I mean, I think the lyrics are pretty straightforward: "they serve quarter pounders, they will put pounds on you!" But I probably have this song stuck in my head because John W made me sing it all day last weekend, because I can sing that one pitch-perfect and I know all the words (to the chorus).

Donna Summer may have won this battle--considering the fact that she has seeped into my dream realm--but I swear to you Donna Summer, the war has just begun! I am full of obscure songs that will beat out your bizarro cake song one of these days!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Carter's Law Day Speech

The excerpts of the following speech were taken from the Jimmy Carter Library (See full transcript here). In May of 1974, then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter gave a"Law Day" address at the University of Georgia before Senator Edward Kennedy, several prominent Georgia attorneys and law students.

I recently heard some of this speech in a brilliant documentary about Hunter S. Thompson, “Gonzo.” (Excerpts of this speech can also be found in Thompson's The Great Shark Hunt).

Carter's topics: Bob Dylan, homemade cookies, Dr. King, peanut farming, nuclear physics, the Wright Bros, commitment to the status quo, Tolstoy, Napoleon, and Thomas Jefferson.

…I'm not qualified to talk to you about law, because in addition to being a peanut farmer, I'm an engineer and a nuclear physicist, not a lawyer. I was planning, really, to talk to you more today about politics, and the inter-relationship of political affairs and law, than about what I'm actually going to speak on. But after Senator Kennedy's delightful and very fine response to political questions during his speech, and after his analysis of the Watergate problems, I stopped at a room on the way, while he had his press conference, and I changed my speech notes.

My own interest in the criminal justice system is very deep and heartfelt. Not having studied law, I've had to learn the hard way. I read a lot and listen a lot. One of the sources for my understanding about the proper application of criminal justice and the system of equity is from reading Reinhold Niebuhr, one of his books that Bill Gunter gave me quite a nu
mber of years ago. The other source of my understanding about what's right and wrong in this society is from a friend of mine, a poet named Bob Dylan. After listening to his records about "The Ballad of Hattie Carol" and "Like a Rolling Stone" and "The Times, They Are a-Changing," I've learned to appreciate the dynamism of change in a modern society.

I grew up as a landowner's son. But I don't think I ever realized the proper interrelationship between the landowner and those who worked on a farm until I heard Dylan's record, "I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More." So I come here speaking to you today about your subject with a base for my information founded on Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan.

One of the things that Niebuhr says is that the sad duty of the political system is to establish justice in a sinful world. He goes on to say that there's no way to establish or maintain justice without law; that the laws are constantly changing to stabilize the social equilibrium of the forces and counterforces of a dynamic society; and that the law in its totality is an expression of the struc
ture of government…

…I would like to talk to you for few moments about some of the practical aspects of being a governor who is still deeply concerned about the inadequacies of a system of which it is obvious that you're so patently proud. I have refrained completely from making any judicial appointments on the basis of political support or other factors, and have chosen, in every instance, Superior Court judges, quite often state judges, Appellate Court judges, on the basis of merit analysis by a highly competent, open, qualified group of distinguished Georgians. I'm proud of this…

…I don't know exactly how to say this, but I was thinking just a few moments ago about some of the things that are of deep concern to me as a governor. As a scientist, I was working constantly, along with almost everyone who professes that dedication of life, to probe, probe every day of my life for constant changes for the better. It's completely anachronistic in the make-up of a nuclear physicist or an engineer or scientist to be satisfied with what we've got, or to rest on the laurels of past accomplishments. It's the nature of the profession.

As a farmer, the same motivation persists. Every farmer that I know of, who is worth his salt or who's just average,
is ahead of the experimental stations and research agronomist in finding better ways, changing ways to plant, cultivate, utilize herbicides, gather, cure, sell farm products. The competition for innovation is tremendous, equivalent to the realm of nuclear physics, even.

In my opinion, it's different in the case of lawyers. And maybe this is a circumstance that is so inherently true that it can't be changed.

I'm a Sunday school teacher, and I've always known that the structure of law is founded on a Christian ethic that you shall love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself - a very high and perfect standard. We all know the fallibility of man, and the contentions in society, as described by Reinhold Niebuhr, and many others, don't permit us to achieve perfection. We do strive for equality, but not with a fervent an
d daily commitment. In general, the powerful and the influential in our society shape the laws and have a great influence on the legislature or the Congress. This creates a reluctance to change because the powerful and the influential have carved out for themselves or have inherited a privileged position in society, of wealth or social prominence or higher education or opportunity for the future. Quite often, those circumstances are circumvented at a very early age because college students, particularly undergraduates, don't have any commitment to the preservation of the way things are. But later, as their interrelationship with the present circumstances grows, they also become committed to approaching change very, very slowly and very, very cautiously, and there's a commitment to the status quo…

…I remember when I was a child, I lived on a farm about 3 miles from Plains, and we didn't have electricity or running water. We lived on the railroad - Seaboard Coastline Railroad. Like all farm boys, I had a flip, a slingshot. They had stabilized the railroad bed with little white round rocks, which I used for ammunition. I would go out frequently to the railroad and gather the most perfectly shaped rocks of proper size. I always had a few in my pockets, and I had others cached away around the farm, so that they would be convenient if I ran out of my pocket supply.

One day I was leaving the railroad track with my pockets full of rocks and hands full of rocks, and my mother came out on the front porch - this is not a very interesting story but it illustrates a point - and she had in her hands a plate full of
cookies that she had just baked for me. She called me - I am sure with love in her heart - and said, "Jimmy, I've baked some cookies for you." I remember very distinctly walking up to her and standing there for 15 or 20 seconds in honest doubt about whether I should drop those rocks which were worthless and take the cookies that my mother had prepared for me, which between her and me were very valuable….

…Quite often, we have the same inclination in our everyday lives. We don't recognize that change can sometimes be very beneficial, although we fear it. Anyone who lives in the South looks back on the last 15 to 20 years with some degree of embarrassment, including myself…

…Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was perhaps despised by many in this room because he shook up our social structure that benefited us, and demanded simply that black citizens be treated the same as white citizens, wasn't greeted with approbation and accolades by the Georgia Bar Association or the Alabama Bar Association. He was greeted with horror. Still, once that change was made, a very simple but difficult change, no one in his right mind would want to go back to circumstances prior to that juncture in the development of our nation's society…

I don't want to go on and on; I'm part of it. But the point I want to make to you is that we still have a long way to go. In every age or every year, we have a tendency to believe that we've come so far now, that there's no way to improve the present system. I'm sure when the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, they felt that was the ultimate in transportation. When the first atomic bomb was exploded, that was the ultimate development in n
uclear physics, and so forth.

Well, we haven't reached the ultimate. But who's going to search the
heart and soul of an organization like yours or a law school or state or nation and say, "What can we still do to restore equity and justice or to preserve it or to enhance it in this society?" You know, I'm not afraid to make the change. I don't have anything to lose. But, as a farmer, I'm not qualified to assess the characteristics of the 9,100 inmates in the Georgia prisons, 50 percent of whom ought not to be there. They ought to be on probation or under some other supervision and assess what the results of previous court rulings might bring to bear on their lives.

I was in the governor's mansion for 2 years, enjoying the services of a very fine cook, who was a prisoner - a woman. One day she came
to me, after she got over her 2 years of timidity, and said, "Governor, I would like to borrow $250 from you."

I said, "I'm not sure that a lawyer would be worth that much."

She said, " I don't want to hire a lawyer. I want to pay the judge."

I thought it was a ridiculous statement for her; I felt that she was ignorant. But I found out she wasn't. She had been sentenced by a superior court judge in the state, who still serves, to 7 years or $750. She had raised, early in her prison career, $500. I didn't lend her the money, but I had Bill Harper, my legal aide, look into it. He found the circumstances were true. She was quickly released under a recent court ruling that had come down in the past few years...

…In closing, I'd like to just illustrate the point by something that came to mind this morning when I was talking to Senator Kennedy about his trip to Russia.

When I was about 12 years old, I liked to read, and I had a school principal, named Miss Julia Coleman, Judge Marshall knows her. She forced me pretty much to read, read, read, classical books. She would give me a gold star when I read 10 and a silver star when I read

One day, she called me in and she said, "Jimmy, I think it's time for you to read 'War and Peace.'" I was completely relieved because I thought it was a book about cowboys and Indians.

Well, I went to the library and checked it out, and it was 1,415 pages thick, I think, written by Tolstoy, as you know, about Napoleon's entry into Russia in the 1812-15 era. He had never been defeated, and he was sure he could win, but he underestimated the severity of the Russian winter and the peasants' love for their land.

To make a long story short, the next spring he retreated in defeat. The course of history was changed; it probably affected our own lives.

The point of the book is, and what Tolstoy points out in the epilogue is, that he didn't write the book about Napoleon or the Czar of Russia or even the generals, except in a rare occasion. He wrote it about the students and the housewives and the barbers and the farmers and the privates in the army. And the point of the book is that the course of human events, even the greatest historical events, are not determined by the leaders of a nation or a state, like Presidents or governors or senators. They are controlled by the combined wisdom and courage and commitment and discernment and unselfishness and compassion and love and idealism of the common ordinary people. If that was true in the case of Russia where they had a czar or France where they had an emperor, how much more true is it in our own case where the Constitution charges us with a direct responsibility for determining what our government is and ought to be?

Well, I've read parts of the embarrassing transcripts, and I've seen the proud statement of a former attorney general, who protected his boss, and now brags on the fact that he tiptoed through a mine field and came out "clean." I can't imagine somebody like Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing through a mine field on the technicalities of the law, and then bragging about being clean afterwards.

I think our people demand more than that. I believe that everyone in this room who is in a position of responsibility as a preserver of the law in its purest form ought to remember the oath that Thomas Jefferson and others took when they practically signed their own death warrant, writing the Declaration of Independence - to preserve justice and equity and freedom and fairness, they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Thank you very much.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Are Just Asking for Bodily Injuries

I went to a show the other night thinking, 'Gee, this 60s Northern Soul revivalist band's gonna be nifty. I'll dance in the go-go style and it'll be like stepping in a time machine. That'll be swell."

So I went to see King Khan and the Shrines at the Great American Music Hall and bled all over the dance floor--which I do intend to explain in further detail--but I must say, seriously you guys, the pain suffered by myself and Sarah V was so worth it (although I speak for myself here as Sarah V was severely pissed about getting intentionally socked in the face).

And, I would also like to add, that if you are going to a King Khan show and intend on standing close enough to the stage in order that you may catch some of the great Shaman-Maharaja's sweet sweat trickling down from his red, ruffled pirate shirt billowing beneath a white leisure suit, you are just asking for bodily injuries.

The music itself, a slick, smirking big band nod to Motown, early 70s Rhythm & Blues and the aforementioned Northern Soul, casts the King as a gruff, howling James Brown/Iggy Pop and something or other you-know-you've-heard-him-before hybrid impressionist with the chops to pull it off so well that you'd swear he'd been transported directly from the 70s via DeLorean. Quick history: the King was raised in Montreal and gathered his band members in Berlin. His first retro album, with then-band name "King Khan and BBQ Show", was recorded in a Nazi bunker, or so the story goes. As a critical side note, the drummer, Ron (spelled "Rahn") Streeter once played for Ike and Tina, Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder.

But the crowd, or rather, the hysteria brought upon the crowd under the influence of such powerful, raw nostalgia, was pure punk rock in nature and can eat you alive as me and Sarah V found out. The King waved his magic scepter, or in this case an owl statue with a revolving head, and a woman dancing next to my friend Jim magnetically jumped on his shoulders, sat up good and tall, and removed her t-shirt waving it around like a lasso. This allowed for a full bear hug from the King, and many a high-five given to Jim by male audience members. At one point, the owl head mysteriously appeared at my feet and I grabbed it with the same ferocious enthusiasm typically reserved for Red Socks fans capturing fly balls at the World Series.

At one point the 60s-inspired dancing and foot-stomping became a bit much, however, as my Achilles tendon was stomped on to shreds and, thus, the blood did flow. Rest assured I was a complete baby about it, running to the bar and screaming to the bartender like a wounded soldier in a flurry of shock and panic, "I'm bleeeding!!! I'm bleeee-ding-over-here!!!" I am happy to report that my cries were heard and the barback swiftly provided the necessary gauze and thick band-aid and I was ready to go back to rocking in no time.

I can safely say that good time was had by all, with the exception of Sarah V.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Here are some Khan quotes that I think speak volumes about the "King Khan and the Shrines experience":

--"My great grandfather was the Johnny Thunders of the sitar. He played but never recorded anything and became a serious opium addict. My father tried to play sitar but chose the fast life over that and wound up down and out and addicted to cocaine. My mother can play harp like Bob Dylan.”

--“You don´t have to be from Louisiana to practice voodoo, I learned much from my mother and grandmother. I began seriously practicing voodoo to fulfil my infinite sexual fantasies and when the mojo started working I figured “hey, why not put this to music?”

--"I learned lots about being a punk from my two best Mohawk friends Leborgne and Beserker. We used to get drunk, smash cars, go hunting for white women."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Bastille Day (s' Eve)!

This morning I ate me some crepes, listened to some Francomusique (Serge, Carla Bruni and Stereo Total) and took in some French culture. By "French Culture" I mean this video with Gainsbourg and his prepubescent daughter Charlotte:

I tried to get my French housemate to explain.

Me: So explain to me this "Lemon Incest."

Amelie: Well, eez like, "Lemon Zest," but instead, "Incest", you know, because 'e is 'er father.

Me: Oh, thanks for explaining. Did people like this video? Did he loose any fans?

Amelie: Yes, eet was popular. 'E did not lose fans, they were just like, "Eez a reely crasi guy!" 'E used to go on TV and burn money. I donno."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Beijing Olympics Sanctioned Cheering...or Cannibalism?

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing organizers are promoting an officially sanctioned chanting routine for Chinese spectators at August's Olympics, state media said Thursday.

Incorporating the ubiquitous Chinese sporting chant, "Jiayou" or "add oil," the four-step routine is designed to help spectators cheer in a "smooth and civilized manner" at the August 8-24 Games.

The chant will be promoted by television programs, video presentations and squads of cheering volunteers at the venues as well as by the education ministry, the People's Daily reported.

The routine begins with "Olympics -- add oil" accompanied by two claps and a double thumbs up, before continuing with "China -- add oil" with two more claps and raised fists.

The "China" and "Olympics" can be replaced to allow support for other countries or individuals, the paper said.

Possible lack of sporting etiquette has been a major concern for city authorities during preparations for the Games and a series of educational programs have been instituted.

Users of public transport in the Chinese capital are briefed on the rules of Olympic sports on special television screens, while special projects have taken place in many city schools to teach the children about the history of the Games.

"Add oil"?!?! What does it all mean? Are Chinese observers really cheering on their statesmen, or making a stir fry with foreign opponents?

I am reminded of a Twilight Zone episode:

Don't go to the Olympics! They will eat you!!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

NYT Slam of Obama: A Response

So a few of my friends, ex-Hillary supporters, were really curious as to what my thoughts were on the 4th of July NYT editorial which claimed that Barack Obama is changing his tune on some social policy issues, effectively denying us the "change we can believe in."

And to this I say, oh ye wretched and cursed traitorous rag of filth and desperation! A curse upon ye and ye kind!

...no but seriously, this is the newspaper that singlehandedly served us false intelligence accounts of WMD in Iraq on a platter, shoving it in our face relentlessly: "EAT IT! EAT IT!" the media whores at the Times cried out until many of us gorged ourselves sick.

The two leading prostitutes that were in bed with Libby, Rove et al, who regurgitated the rubbish about WMDs, were Judith Miller (see above) and Michael Gordon. While Gordon still writes for the Times, Miller would later "step down" from her post at the Times, and fancied herself a first amendment martyr for refusing to tell a court who spilled the beans that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. She spent 85 days in jail, even though she knew a year ahead of time that Libby would allow her to disavow any confidentiality agreements regarding the affair. Who's hero was she trying to be? A damned fine question. Another thing: Miller was one of a handful of media personalities sent fake anthrax in the mail right after 9/11, which spurred furious reportage on the imminent threat of bio-terrorism. Judy Miller: a fear-mongering class act!

What many people don't know, including wikipedia, is that Judith Miller has a huge vag. It was said that she could easily get down with Bush's entire cadre of male cabinet members in one night--sometimes she could take on three at a time. She even released a sex tape, where did I find it?...hey, let me search the Internets for a second...oh here it is. Late into the wee hours of the morning, Miller would then transcribe her interview notes, careful not to jot down the expletives her sources yelled at her in the heat of passion. Thankfully none of her WMD reports contained the words, "sexbeast" "slut" or "whoref**ker." --but there were many close calls.

Sometimes, if she didn't have to sleep with too many of her Bush clients and had an early night, she would eat cookies and baguettes in her bed spreadeagled as she carefully edited her glorious prose. In the morning, she would then rise and take a walk through Central Park on her way to work. All she had to do was unload the undergarments beneath her skirt and she could feed all the pigeons in Central Park AND Coney Island combined with the remnants carefully stored in that huge vag of hers.

--That is my rebuttal to the New York Times' story on Barack Obama. I mean, what am I supposed to say? The editorial was correct, his shifting stances towards the middle are hard to stomach for progressives like myself, but really, I never believed he would change the way values voters choose candidates. And I never thought that he was an ultimate constitutional crusader or "unreasonable man" like Ralph Nader. There's a reason why Nader's unelectable. Obama's playing the game and doing it well. Hillary would be doing the same thing if she got the nomination.

The NYT has a lot of Obama bad-mouthing to do to balance out all the flack they've been giving McCain by foolishly digging up outdated stories about improper relations with lobbyists. So this is probably just the beginning of some of that. It's a political move on the Times' part. So what, nothing new for them.

But I have been down about Obama, and just I wish that he could manage to drum up the same amount of support without kissing conservative, religious right ass.

One of my favorite bloggers, Historiann, put it this way:

Hi Amity–I’m sorry that Obama has been a disappointment. Can I say, like Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain!” And I hope you conquer the hangover soon.

Obama’s not a hypocrite, at least not by pol standards. He’s just a pol–that’s what they do, so don’t get too angry or down on yourself. It’s like being angry with a cat for licking hir butt–that’s just what cats do. A lot. So, remember: try not to kiss pols or cats on the lips, or share a popsicle with them.

Monday, July 07, 2008

"This American Life" host Ira Glass

Necessary Conversations

I've been hooked on the Showtime television version of Ira Glass' "This American Life" lately and I will tell you, honestly, that counter to what every hardcore American Life fan has feared, it is not a bastardized version of the 13 year-old cult radio show.

The most recent episode I saw featured an Iraqi man who now lives in New York after his family had to disperse to various countries under the Bush occupation. This man decides to set up a mobile discussion booth and travel across the Midwest on a quest to seek those Americans who supported the "War" on Terror, and to try to find out why.

His "Talk To An Iraqi" booth reminded me of a Christian Science Monitor article I had read a few weeks ago, about a series of "living libraries" that travel the world. In a "living library," people from various minority groups, or those with "fringe" backgrounds, sit around and make themselves available to anyone curious about them. For instance, you can schedule a conversation with a Rwandan refugee, a transgendered individual, or a neo-Nazi. I think discussion programs like this are remarkable and ultimately necessary to bridge the communication divide among international communities whose worlds are increasingly colliding through global turmoil; they also help to mend our dysfunctional systems of popular media. They are necessary conversations to be having.

The "This American Life" episode was amazingly compelling. It both made me disgusted to be an American, and gave me hope for future generations (see the home-schooled 11 year-old at minute 4:00 who apologizes for the occupation).

I think the television medium was utilized in a a way that adds a poetic visual depth to the show to enhance the humanistic elements of the American Life stories when the show could have easily become sullied by a drab documentary format. See below:

How The Other Half Gets Stimulated

Big news today on the front page of the SF Chronicle--it seems the "economic stimulus" rebate checks that were meant to help mid-lower class income groups pump more money into the economy aren't doing the job so well:

An unscientific survey of Chronicle readers found that about 3 out of 4 respondents said they had already spent all or part of their rebate. Travel, regular bills and, ironically, tax payments were the most common uses for the stimulus money.

In effect, the stimulus payments and high gas and food prices cancel each other out. If gas stays above $4 per gallon nationwide for the rest of the year, "that will raise direct costs to consumers by about $90 billion, offsetting almost all the stimulus," the Treasury Department's [Phillip] Swagel said.

That leaves the economy treading water rather than setting itself up for renewed growth.

But hey, good news for wealthy San Franciscans who were holding out on purchasing that second Cartier watch, or $800 Christian Louboutin heels! Now they can easily throw down on some luxury goods with money that would have gone to a few meals at Michael Minna.

7X7 Magazine, the go-to lifestyles magazine for the bored and vapid that like to look at pretty things, or read about pretty people buying pretty things while at the spa, had it's own "man on the street" reportage on the stimulus checks.

Props to my friend Enthusiastic Sean, who was sporting an Obama t-shirt and said he would be donating his money to the Obama campaign. Watch him trying to keep the enthusiasm down to a minimum, he's adorable.

Watch the video here.

War times are hard.